Review: “SOUR” Proves That Olivia Rodrigo is the Pop Princess We All Need Right Now
Ever since she released her debut single “drivers license” back in January, no one has been able to stop talking about Olivia Rodrigo. One of the breakout stars of Disney+’s “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series”, she had already proven herself to be a contender as an actor, singer, writer, and more before her 18th birthday.
Singles “deja vu” and “good 4 u” only ramped up the hype for more new music from the teenager, so it’s more than safe to say that my expectations for her first full-length “SOUR” were extremely high. I’m happy to report that she not only delivered with this record, but she absolutely hit it out of the park.
“SOUR” begins with “brutal”, a no-holds-barred assessment of life as a teenage girl, life as a celebrity, and life as both of those things in the year 2021, set to an effortlessly catchy pop-rock backdrop. The entire song is filled with brilliantly quippy and relatable lines like “I’m so sick of seventeen / Where’s my fucking teenage dream?” and “'Cause I love people I don't like / And I hate every song I write / And I'm not cool, and I'm not smart / And I can't even parallel park.”
If “brutal” will make you feel so seen that you’re angry but you still want to dance, “traitor” will make you feel so seen that you’re upset and you just want to cry. A much softer song sonically, the lyrics explore the concept of not quite being cheated on, but knowing that right after breaking up with you, your significant other started dating someone they told you not to worry about; it’s heart-shattering.
What is there to say that hasn’t already been said about “drivers license?” This is the song that put Rodrigo on the map for so many new fans, and deservedly so - the track captures all of the conflicting emotions that accompany getting your heart broken during your “coming of age” years in such a tragically beautiful way.
A track that addresses a toxic relationship complete with a Taylor Swift writing credit sounds like something so perfect it only exists in dreams, but “1 step forward, 3 steps back” is very much real, and very much one of the singer’s best moments on this record. This song is very simple both lyrically and sonically, short verses with just a piano behind them, but the emotions that exist within the phrases are so incredibly striking.
Track five, “deja vu”, was originally released as a single back in April but fits in perfectly on “SOUR”; the transition between track four and this song’s opening is seamless. Sung over a beautifully simple instrumental, the lyrics look at an ex who is essentially repeating their relationship with you with someone new, and all of the feelings that come with that. And yes, this bridge absolutely still holds up.
Completing the one-two punch of incredible singles on this album, “good 4 u” is a feisty pop-rock anthem about wishing you were doing as well as your ex seemingly is after your relationship has ended. To read more, you can check out my full review of the song here!
Slowing things down is “enough for you”, which sees Rodrigo singing about changing yourself and doubting yourself for someone else, wishing that you could feel like you measured up to the people they had dated in the past, but being left before you can even fully feel all of those feelings. For as great as she is at soaring pop songs, she might be even better at these soft, sad ballads; each one is more heartwrenching than the last.
Continuing this theme, “happier” is about knowing that your ex will move on with someone new, and even wishing them well, but not wishing them the best. On the chorus, she sings, I hope you're happy / Just not like how you were with me / I'm selfish, I know, can't let you go / So find someone great, but don't find no one better / I hope you're happy but don't be happier“, driving this point home.
Things pick up a bit on “jealousy, jealousy”, which, lyrically, is a combination of “brutal” and “enough for you”; the lyrical content discusses comparing yourself to others in the public eye or on social media. Rodrigo is able to explore and speak on these topics without shaming other women or even really attacking herself, which is something that a lot of girls, at any stage in life, could learn from.
Track ten, “favorite crime”, is another song about heartbreak, lyrically similar to “1 step forward, 3 steps back” and “enough for you.” The lyrics compare the relationship and its demise to two lovers committing crimes together, a la Bonnie and Clyde, except in this instance, only one person really feels the sting.
Closing out the record is “hope ur ok”, which really ties all of the themes of the album together. The lyrics see Rodrigo reminiscing on people from her past, particularly those who weren’t doing very well when they knew each other and reassures them that their existence is a good thing, they’re trying their best, and they have people on their side.
Many people will call (and have already called) “SOUR” a breakup album, and it’s easy to understand why they do this initially; there’s been a ton of speculation about who these songs have been written about, and a lot of the tracks are about heartbreak or breakups. However, I’d be quicker to call this a record about moving on rather than breaking up, and even if it was a “breakup album”, there isn’t a single thing that’s wrong with that.
What appeals to me and so many other young girls about Olivia Rodrigo is how real and authentic she is with her writing, talking about emotions felt by herself and by teenage girls everywhere with complete honesty, and while some people will call that immature, I think it’s the complete opposite. Being able to acknowledge those feelings, write about them, assess them, and move on from them, is the furthest thing from immature, and I applaud her for doing that for the entirety of her debut record.
There’s no debating that the future is beyond bright for Olivia Rodrigo, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for her. However, until then, I’ll be streaming “SOUR” on repeat, available wherever you listen to music.
If you want to support the artist, you can check out her official merch store which has been updated today to include new album merch and physical copies of the LP. You can keep up with Rodrigo by following her on Instagram @OliviaRodrigo, Twitter @Olivia_Rodrigo, Facebook @OliviaRodrigoOfficial, and TikTok @LivBeDumb.
If you’ve listened to “SOUR” (of course you have), be sure to let me know what you think of it by tweeting me @JENSESSlON! For coverage of whatever Olivia Rodrigo does next (and much more), you can follow this blog on Instagram @StrawberrySkiesBlog, Twitter @StrawbSkiesBlog, and Facebook @StrawberrySkiesBlog.