The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer


‘Guts’: A New Teenage Rage Anthem

Olivia Rodrigo beats the sophomore slump allegations in her latest studio album release
Rodgrigo’s second album resolidifies her reign as one of the most popular singer-songwriters in pop music today.

We all know and love Olivia Rodrigo, American singer-songwriter and actress, whom you may recognize from “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” or Disney Channel’s “Bizaardvark.” More recently, however, Rodrigo has strayed from her acting career to write music, with the release of her freshman album “Sour” in 2021 and her newest release “Guts” on Sept. 8.

One of her hit songs, “Drivers License” — the third track off “Sour,” cemented her role as an artist. The single quickly hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and amassed over 65 million plays in its first week. At only 17 years old, Rodrigo was the youngest artist at that time to top the chart. “Drivers License” broke the Spotify records for the most streams of a nonholiday song in one day (about 17 million), in a week (almost 66 million), and accumulated more than 1 billion streams in 2021. 

Rodrigo’s debut album, “Sour,” quickly gained popularity and won the artist three Grammy awards in 2022: best new artist, best solo pop performance (“Drivers License”), and best pop vocal album (“Sour”).

A breakup consistently proves an unoriginal start to an album. However, the frank manner in which Rodrigo imparts the agony of being a teenage girl epitomizes the emotional evacuation of a heartbroken brain. Fellow singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers conducted an interview with Rodrigo published in Interview Magazine in which she stated that heartbreak allows a discovery of self and serves as a “catalyst” for continued self-growth. Throughout “Sour,” the theme of self-discovery is on full display, as Rodrigo matures from girl to woman.

“Guts,” is the more mature, older sister of “Sour,” but with all the familiar teenage angst. The word, “guts,” carries many connotations in the way that it’s used: spill your guts, hate your guts, miss your guts, trust your gut — these different meanings cultivate the emotional growing pains of adolescence. In a teaser trailer for the release of “Guts,” viewers glimpsed Rodrigo’s messy room which included a keyboard, guitar, yearbook, cardboard boxes of clothes and a skateboard scattered across the space. The “Guts” album cover summarized this aesthetic: Rodrigo wears chipped nail polish and a dark red lip, her purple bra peeks out of her black tank top, and she reutilizes the iconic “Sour” purple, claiming the color as her own.

The frank manner in which Rodrigo imparts the agony of being a teenage girl epitomizes the emotional evacuation of a heartbroken brain.

The Grammy-winning artist lives and breathes her work, apparent in the honest, raw emotional lyrics. “All-American Bitch” opens “Guts” in a sound nostalgic to her previous album before evolving into a punk and pop-rock theme throughout the album. “Bad Idea Right?,” a pre-released track and the second song off the album, originated as a sarcastic joke about hooking up with an ex-boyfriend. Rodrigo tells the age-old story in a fun, sarcastic, punk rock, grunge, complicated teenage girl manner, with the next track, “Vampire,” another pre-release, showing the darker side of a breakup she has experienced. 

The mythical creatures are notorious for taking advantage of others for their own benefit. Conveying the feeling of being used and manipulated, the “vampire” Rodrigo refers to metaphorically feeds off her emotional energy and success. Vampires can also symbolize the power imbalance, predatory, parasitic nature of her past relationship. Rodrigo feels betrayed, used and emotionally drained due to her toxic relationship. 

The fourth track, “Lacy,” is the sapphic anthem of wanting to be her and be with her at the same time. Rodrigo placed “Lacy,” a hypothetical girl, on an ethereal, angelic pedestal and hates herself for being jealous of her and worshiping her. Theories about the subject of the song include Taylor Swift, Gracie Abrams and Sabrina Carpenter. 

In the album’s fifth track, “Ballad of a Homeschooled Girl” Rodrigo draws from her childhood, growing up isolated from other children her age, and merges it with the general adolescent experience, and feelings of embarrassment and discomfort. The music speaks to young girls because she takes us seriously and trusts us with her actual, truthful experience. 

As someone who perfectly encapsulates teenage angst, Rodrigo epitomizes girlhood and depicts the reality of what it means to be a woman — messy, disheveled, painful and emotional. She demonstrates the messiness and grittiness of girlhood without the gimmick across the tracks in “Guts.”

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OLIVIA QUIROS, Contributing Writer

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