Olivia Rodrigo’s “SOUR” and the perfection of the breakup album

“SOUR” proves that Rodrigo is more than a one-hit-wonder and has an exciting career ahead of her. Photo | Oliva Rodrigo's Twitter

The Disney star to musician pipeline is not a new concept. Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, and Demi Lovato are all examples of this trend. However, Olivia Rodrigo is becoming a global phenomenon overnight after dropping her debut single, “driver’s license,” which is unprecedented.

The emotional lyrics combined with the minimalist piano instrumental lead to the song breaking numerous records and landed at the Number 1 spot on the Billboard 100.  

The 17-year-old Disney actor turned popstar certainly had a reputation to uphold after putting out her chart-topping debut single. But, fortunately, “SOUR” proves that Rodrigo is more than a one-hit-wonder and has an exciting career ahead of her. Across the 11 tracks, Rodrigo masters the art of the breakup album.

Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album “SOUR” is an intimate look at the subject of heartbreak and adolescence. It is closer to a teen pop version of 808’s and Heartbreaks in terms of subject matter.

The title “SOUR” comes from the negative emotions she faced as a young woman and her struggles at 17. “SOUR” is a melancholy affair, a concept album that paints a portrait of Rodrigo not as the Disney star but as a young adult who deals with heartbreak like the rest of the world. However, it is a relatable affair that Rodrigo can make palatable to the masses thanks to her songwriting capabilities.

 Her opening track, “brutal,” abandons the minimalistic instrumentals of her breakout hit and opts for a distorted, guitar-laden track about her disillusionment adolescent years. It’s a rather bold choice to put as the first track of a pop album.

“SOUR’S” themes are summarized elegantly by the lyrics:” Where’s my fucking teenage dream?” and “God, it’s brutal out here.”

“brutal” transitions into the second track, “traitor,” which is one of the many songs that talks about heartbreak on this album. “traitor” is more sonically reminiscent of her breakout single, being a piano ballad that focuses more on the feelings of betrayal she felt from the often mentioned break up.

It would be a disservice to talk about “SOUR” without talking about “driver’s license.” The song opening with the sound of a car door opening creates the narrative of a tear-filled car ride for listeners. The bridge ending with “I still f***ing love you” effectively captures the conflicting emotions of heartbreak.

Another highlight of the album is the third single she released, “good 4 u.” “good 4 u” sees Rodrigo ditch the pianos once again for a pop grunge track with backing electric guitars as she sarcastically sings about how happy she is about her ex’s apathy towards their breakup.

Rodrigo contrasts said apathy with lyrics such as “I’ve lost my mind I spent the night, cryin on the floor of my bedroom” to show how deeply the breakup affected her.

The album is capped off with the track “hope ur ok.” This track sees Olivia addressing old friends who are presumably part of the  LGBTQ+ community,  taking the opportunity to wish them well and remind them that life is not as bad as it seems, capping off the album on a positive note.

“SOUR” leaves a sweet taste in the listener’s mouth. “SOUR” is easily one of the best albums to release in 2021, and many are excited to see where Rodrigo’s career goes from here.