The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday April 12th

Olivia Rodrigo’s 'drivers license' breaks records and students' hearts

DTH Photo Illustration. Olivia Rodrigo's debut single "drivers license" was released on Jan 8, 2021 and quickly broke records on Spotify and Amazon Music along with creating new trends on Tik Tok within days of its release.
Buy Photos DTH Photo Illustration. Olivia Rodrigo's debut single "drivers license" was released on Jan 8, 2021 and quickly broke records on Spotify and Amazon Music along with creating new trends on Tik Tok within days of its release.

Usually, getting a driver’s license is a mundane ritual that can include waiting forever at the DMV. For 17-year-old singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo, her “drivers license” experience was anything but ordinary.

Rodrigo’s heartbreak anthem, “drivers license,” was released on Jan. 8 and has over 100 million streams on Spotify and set the record for most streams for a non-holiday song in a single day. The song has become a hit on social media platforms like TikTok and Twitter, inspiring online trends and reactions. 

The song’s social media presence has inspired many students to listen to the smash hit. Senior Taylor Edmonds says the song took over her TikTok ‘For You’ page. 

“I kept hearing it, and I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, this song is so good,'” Edmonds said. “I looked into it, and I started listening to it, and now I just play it like 20,000 times a day.” 

While many are sharing the ways that they relate to Rodrigo’s song online, those who are not heartbroken can still find ways to connect with the message. 

“My first reaction after I listened to it was just like, ‘Wow, that hurt,’” Edmonds said. “I'm in a long-term, happy, committed relationship and that song hurt me. You can just hear the passion and just the absolute deep hurt in (Rodrigo’s) voice and in her words, it's absolutely beautiful.”

Rodrigo’s lyrics tell the story of loving someone even after the relationship has ended. Through internet speculation, many online users have concluded that the song has to do with a past relationship between Rodrigo and “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” co-star Joshua Bassett. 

“I think that everybody is so obsessed with it because, one, there's so much drama behind the song and everybody loves drama,” Edmonds said. “And then two, it's a beautiful song. And three, people love hearing the sad, deep, emotional songs, especially if they can connect to it because of their own sad emotional experiences that they've gone through.”

Some listeners, including junior Kinsley Couch, felt the storyline within the song helped people understand the message and further connect with Rodrigo's lyrics. 

“I thought she was very brave to release it, because everybody's been talking about who it's about,” Couch said. “And I just think that's awesome she was that brave to do it.”

Sophia Maria Andricopulos, a third-year doctoral student in musicology, said she was struck by the song’s tone. 

“It surprised me at some of the turns it takes where she’s got this build-up, and it starts really thin, and her voice gets stronger and more passionate, and she's layering in more types of sounds,” Andricopulos said. “And then, for me, it was really unexpected that it just pulled back and went back to this really more personal vocal sound and took all those instruments out.”

Like many others, Andricopulos said she was compelled by the sounds and textures that Rodrigo displays throughout the song. 

“She builds to something I guess I might call — it's hard to call it rage because it never really gets there,” Andricopulos said. “Then it pulls way back and I don't know what it is about. I was so compelled by it immediately and I was like wait a second — listen to this again.”

arts@dailytarheel.com

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