At only 18 years old, Olivia Rodrigo is taking over the world. In addition to the endless buzz on social media, her 11-track debut album, “SOUR,” is breaking records. Every song on it is on The Billboard Hot 100 chart, with eight of her songs in the top ten on June 5, earning her Taylor Swift’s former record for “Most songs in the top 10 at one time by a woman.”
All this praise is well earned, with Rodrigo writing, singing and producing these songs at a young age with minimal help. She has proved, perhaps better than anyone ever has, that she is not just a Disney star, but a force to be reckoned with in the music industry.
As someone who has listened to every song on this album multiple times (thanks largely to long car rides) I feel I have a very deep understanding of each track and I am more than ready to share my opinions.
What impresses me so much about the album as a whole is that there is not a song on it I did not enjoy — the number of albums I would happily listen to every track on are few and far between, so this is already a major accomplishment.
Nevertheless, I do have some favorites and least favorites. Here are my thoughts on each song:
When I mention my favorites, this just has to be one. It is such a strong note to start on, with a soft and enticing orchestral bit at the beginning that abruptly transitions into a hard rock melody that is reminiscent of 2000s punk.
From there, it just becomes so catchy, and takes you right back to the angstier moments of your teenage years.
If I had a dollar everytime my family members and I have said, “It’s brutal out here,” in response to any minor inconvenience (particularly these damn cicadas), I’d quickly become a rich girl.
This edgy song concludes on a haunting note, with a return to the orchestral melody and a shift in Rodrigo’s tone of voice. All in all, it is an exciting work of art that I will definitely be blasting in my car with all the windows down (as soon as these damn cicadas die off).
With “brutal” being the introduction to the edgier side of the album, “traitor” is definitely the introduction to the sadder side of the album, and a beautiful start at that. Not only does it really show off Rodrigo’s amazing voice; it also is an excellent example of her poetic songwriting abilities.
More than that, it’s relatable to anyone who has ever had to watch someone move on from them way faster than they possibly could get over them (psh definitely not talking about anything I’ve experienced).
She puts so eloquently into words what so many of us have experienced: when you feel like you can’t be mad at someone because they technically didn’t do anything wrong and yet you still hurt like hell.
There’s not a detail in this song that I don’t like, from the powerful lyrics to Rodrigo’s amazing range. It’s definitely one that must be listened to.
Ah, the song that started it all. Long before there was “SOUR,” there was “drivers license,” which captured the hearts of people across the world as we struggled through a cold January that followed perhaps one of the worst years that any of us can remember, the infamous 2020.
The song was everywhere, from TikTok to Saturday Night Live (in a favorite skit of mine) and to the plain old radio. As Regé-Jean Page puts it in the aforementioned skit, this song is “pure Olivia,” and as Kenan Thompson puts it, “She’s got a healthy belt.” This is all very true considering the dual power of her personality and voice.
The song is sorrowful and nostalgic, down to the little details like subtle car beeps in the beginning. It captures perhaps the most painful part of a breakup, when you’re so excited to share something with that special person and you come to the hard realization that you can’t anymore.
This song introduced much of the world to Olivia Rodrigo, and it really is the full package, from the lyrics that pull on our hearts to her angelic voice. It’s heartbreaking and so very real.
“1 step forward, 3 steps back”
The beauty of this song is partly its simplicity: it is just Rodrigo, her piano and occasionally the faint sound of birds in the background. If you ask me, these moments are make or break for artists — if they can move you with only their voice and a single instrument, they are truly talented.
Rodrigo didn’t disappoint. This song is effortlessly beautiful. In it, she describes a toxic relationship that leaves her unsure of where she stands. The line, “I’d leave you but the roller coaster is all I’ve ever had,” really captures why people choose to stay in a relationship that seems broken from the outside — inside she feels safe even if unhappy, because to leave would mean facing the unknown.
Despite the simplicity in the song, it has had a profound impact on people. When she appeared on the “Zach Sang Show,” Sang mentioned how the song made him cry and led him to adjust an entire relationship of his. That’s some serious power for an 18-year-old girl.
Another popular feature of this song is that it samples from Taylor Swift’s “New Years Day.” Rodrigo has made it known time and time again that she’s a huge Swift fan, so this serves as a fantastic homage to those who came before her.
What is excellent about this song is that while it is still very true to Rodrigo and what she was going through as she wrote this, it doesn’t have the same grungy, melancholic sound that many of her other songs have. Therefore, it is much more palatable to people in all sorts of moods, and this is perhaps why it has held a high place in the charts for as long as it has.
There’s so much to love about this song, from its slow build up, to amazing vocals and instrumentals, as well as a few unique sound effects.
It takes a lot to make a song that is both truthful about painful topics, yet still upbeat and fun to sing along to and Rodrigo does that very well here. It is no wonder that it is one of her most popular songs.
“good 4 u”
Another grungy one, but wow it really has something special. I don’t know what she put in this song but if I heard this in even the most somber of settings I could not resist singing along as she says “like a damn sociopath.”
The chorus of this song is just so fun and catchy. This is definitely another one where you can find me screaming in the car listening to it. In particular, my sister and I love the part where she says, “Screw that and screw you, you will never have to hurt the way you know that I do.” It’s just such a great buildup to the chorus.
This song captures the anger that so many of us feel after a breakup so well. When this song first came out, my sister sent me the music video with the comment, “Robin Daggers energy” (a reference for any “How I Met Your Mother” fans). I had to laugh because she wasn’t entirely wrong, but this song grew on both of us quickly.
“enough for you”
I would say that this one and “1 step forward, 3 steps back” are very similar except that in this track she trades out the piano for a gentle acoustic guitar. Both of these tracks opt for subtle instrumentals to really show off Rodrigo’s astounding voice.
Like all of her songs, there are some really impactful lyrics in “enough for you.” What I find so special about this song is that we really watch Rodrigo start to feel better over its course: in the beginning, she stresses again and again that in her past relationship she never felt like she could be good enough for the other person. Yet, by the end, she switches tone saying, “Someday I’ll be everything to somebody else.”
The line I love in particular is, “You say I’m never satisfied but that’s not me, it’s you.” Over the course of this album, the listener hears Rodrigo beat herself up again and again for her failed relationship, and of course that is very relatable. Yet, it’s so great that she can see that her relationship’s failures were not her fault, and that she and this person just weren’t good for each other.
I do have to admit that this is not my favorite song on this album; it just didn’t stand out to me in the way that a lot of the other songs did. Nevertheless, that by no means indicates that it’s a bad song, and I’ve still listened to it multiple times.
What I appreciate most about this song is that Rodrigo is so vulnerable about feelings that don’t exactly make her look good, but that so many people feel. She’s not afraid to normalize feeling selfish and petty from time to time, as it’s only human.
Afterall, who wants to think of their ex being happy and in love with someone else?
This song I’d also tie to the previous, “happier.” Once again, Rodrigo is so open about emotions that are not very admirable, but that so many people are feeling in this day and age.
She looks deeply at the way comparing herself to others on social media has made her feel — self loathing and envious. And who hasn’t been there because it’s so easy to forget that social media is fake.
My favorite lines in this song are “Their beauty is not my lack,” and “Their win is not my loss.” These are not easy things to admit to ourselves, especially as we’re mindlessly scrolling through social media, a glorification of real life.
I must admit that, though I love the message of this song, it is probably my least favorite on the album. The lyrics are great but I don’t think the song does a great job of showing off Rodrigo’s range or doing anything super unique musically. Nevertheless, the message is way too important for this song to be forgotten.
This finally brings us to perhaps my favorite song on “SOUR.” This is because of how beautiful Rodrigo’s voice sounds in it and how lovely the harmonies are. I’m also just a huge sucker for a simple acoustic song — it makes for something so effortless yet so magical.
This song teaches us to live with no regrets and be proud of even our worst moments. Rodrigo sings about all these things she did wrong, and yet at the same time she says she would do it all again. I like to think this is because she knows that all of these things shaped her into the person she is today and she’s proud of that person, even if she’s not proud of everything she has done in the past.
It’s particularly the last minute of the song that I think is so amazing; it builds up so much for everything to cut out as Rodrigo belts out the song’s title. It just really proves that she is a truly talented artist, from her voice alone to her insane writing ability.
“hope ur ok”
This song is just so sweet and wholesome there are no words for it, and I love that she decided to conclude her album on this note. It is a song about different people who Rodrigo had lost touch with, but who had a profound impact on her.
All of us have these people and are these people for others, and it’s important to remember that. Even on the days when you feel like crap, there is someone out there who is grateful that you exist and it may just be someone totally unexpected.
After listening rigorously to this album, I have to say I’d be endlessly impressed with it had it come from anyone, but I’m particularly amazed that this whole album was written when she was only 17 years old.
I’m so excited to see what she does next, and you can bet I’ll be streaming this album for a long time to come. Here’s to hopefully breaking some more records!