By Fiona O'Reilly
Upon the production of her second studio album “Guts,” Olivia Rodrigo has generated mass support amongst her fanbase for the second time. Whilst most of my peers, specifically those that are teenage girls, have been abundantly supportive of both of Olivia’s albums, I do not feel as strongly in support of Olivia as the rest. Undoubtedly, I do love some of Olivia’s songs such as “Traitor” from her first studio album titled “Sour” and “Lacy” from her second titled “Guts,” but sometimes, I can’t help but cringe at the forceful and typical teenage girl stereotype that I feel Olivia Rodrigo is trying to fit into.
Many of Olivia’s songs, on both albums, are about heartbreak. While I do sympathize with her loss of love, and feel that writing is subjective, the use of oftentimes aggressive comparisons to describe her pain feels disorganized, and her message gets lost in translation. For example, in the song “Vampire,” Olivia creates a metaphor about how her ex-lover is like a vampire in her lyrics where she states “bleeding me dry like a … vampire” and “you only come out at night.” However, Olivia also brings up other aspects of her relationship, drifting away from the theme of a love that sucks the life out of her by stating to her ex-lover “how’s the castle built off people you pretend to care about” and “I see the parties and the diamonds sometimes when I close my eyes.” These are just two examples of symbols that Olivia brings up that I struggle to connect to the common idea of a vampire. The entire song, though undeniably passionate and successful in connecting with teenage girls like Olivia who may have felt a sense of exhaustion from their break-up, feels exaggerated for the purpose of a song.
Source by Izzy Chu
Although Olivia's album was considered a hit, some underlying quirks in her music and untold backstories bring a negative light to her work.
Besides the heartbreak-anthems, Olivia takes on a “relatable” persona in songs such as “Brutal” and “Love is Embarrassing.” For songs like these, I see the appeal to teenage girls and the “typical” struggles girls this age face. Whether it be feeling “like [your] skin doesn’t fit right over [your] bones” as stated in “Ballad of a Homeschooled Girl” or “[staying] in bed for, like, a week” as stated in “Love is Embarrassing,” Rodrigo touches every imaginable uncomfortable situation that a teenage girl faces in her songs. However, it’s personally hard for me to believe that an A-list celebrity can possibly embody the awkwardness of an average teenager.
Other than my feelings towards Olivia’s music, I feel concerned by the lack of general awareness of the extent to which her ex-boyfriend Joshua Bassett was publicly slandered. For starters, in 2021 when Bassett posted a TikTok showing that he was mentioned in a negative light in an SNL sketch featuring Olivia Rodrigo’s hit “Driver’s License,” it was clear that the public was disregarding Bassett and siding with Olivia in the breakup simply because of the popularity of her song.
This upset me for multiple reasons; one being that the love life of teenagers was being put up for display and judgment by the entire world and another being that it seemed that Joshua was receiving little sympathy from the public. Many of Joshua’s songs that he has released, specifically the EP titled “Sad Songs in a Hotel Room,” portray his struggles with love and the public backlash he’s gotten. The song that I find to be the most heartbreaking is “Lifeline,” in which Basset opens up about his health crisis that occurred at what he claims to be the hardest part of his life. The song tells the heart-breaking story of when Basset went into septic shock and experienced heart failure, just six days after Olivia’s release of her single “Driver’s License.”
At the end of the day, the public will never know the true story behind Olivia’s love-life, if her songs are genuine or what truly went down between her and any of her ex-lovers, Joshua included, and I can’t possibly place any direct blame on Olivia for Joshua’s condition and struggles. However, Olivia’s rapidly-growing popularity has left me considering all of the factors to her fame and leaning away from the hype.