Olivia Rodrigo gets real about feeling her feelings
Despite having debuted just this year, it feels strange calling Olivia Rodrigo a rookie artist.
For one, the statistics are staggering. Rodrigo’s channels brim with evidence of her skyrocketing popularity. 361 million YouTube views. 35 million monthly Spotify listeners. 8.1 million followers keeping up with her Instagram updates. These are figures that an artist so fresh on the scene could only dream about. But just four months in, Rodrigo is fully living in the moment.
“I had no expectations, really, going into driver’s license. I still can’t wrap around my head everything that’s happened,” she expresses at an exclusive Southeast Asian press conference. Rodrigo’s debut single is one of the many hits that propelled to the top of the charts during the pandemic, but it’s become the blueprint of success among the flock. “It was so strange to see all these numbers on my phone, all these records being broken [when] I’ve never actually played an actual show.” With gigs still on hold, what Olivia Rodrigo does have is an extensive list of guest performances: MTV Push performances, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and most recently, the 2021 BRITs.
While many recognize Rodrigo from her Disney shows, her fame as a musical artist is almost an entirely separate phenomenon.
When driver’s license climbed up the global charts (and remained there for three consecutive weeks), it wasn’t only because teens could relate to the crippling throes of high school heartbreak. It became a universal angst anthem “sad enough it could even affect grown men,” as exhibited by a Saturday Night Live sketch. Her second single, deja vu, also enjoyed critical acclaim, debuting at the eighth spot on the Billboard Hot 100.
Among many things, it seems one of the bigger secrets to Olivia Rodrigo’s success is her hyper-honest songwriting. Whether it’s driving past an ex’s house or memories of heartbreaks past, she isn’t afraid to feel her feelings and distill them in her lyrics. She promises that the public can look forward to the same authenticity in her upcoming album, Sour. Of the album’s title, she explains, “It’s sort of just a slice of my 17-year-old life. All the sadness, anger, jealousy and insecurity I felt in that period of my life.”
Ahead of the album’s release, she shares, “There’s a song on there that talks a lot about comparison to other people on social media. I think that’s a problem that I feel and have felt so deeply.” And in case it isn’t obvious by now, she laughs, “I love angst, yes.”
Contrary to the somber emotions she tends to sing about, Olivia Rodrigo is a breath of fresh air in real life (if Zoom counts as real life, that is). She excitedly talks about a past birthday celebration she wishes she could relive and acing her driver’s test. “I was the most prepared driver’s test candidate you’ve ever seen in your life,” she laughs. Oh, we should probably mention: she only made one mistake.
On the horizon is the release of her next single, good 4 u. Slated for release on May 14th, it’s one of the tracks she’ll be performing live on SNL. The single artwork features her clad in a cheer uniform and latex gloves, and we’ve got a good feeling it might just be our first taste of a more upbeat, rock ‘n’ roll Olivia Rodrigo track. She assures fans that we’ll be getting a diverse mix of genres across the album, and we’re excited to hear where her sound drives us next.
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Until then, we’ll be on the edge of our seats waiting.
Pre-order Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album, Sour.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver
Special thanks MCA Music Philippines