The biggest pop release of 2021 has officially dropped. It may only be about halfway through the year, but based on the way Olivia Rodrigo has absolutely dominated the genre over the past few months, her debut album, Sour, is a fantastic first showing that proves she’s suddenly the one to beat.
It’s rare to have a young artist come out of the gate swinging this hard in regards to her self-realization and persona as Olivia has. She is self-deprecating at times, but also knows her worth and shows a confidence that I wish I had (or even still do) at her age. With Sour, she serves you heartbreak, sass, sincerity, and fun beats in an emotional 35 minutes that reek of teenage nostalgia, but in the best way possible.
The opening track, ‘Brutal’ (a personal favorite) immediately lets you know this isn’t the Disney dream you thought you were getting yourself into. It has an harder punk-rock sound that’s still harmless, yet rebellious, and a perfect anthem for any person trying to figure out life. As a mid-twenties woman, can confirm to Olivia that, damn, it’s STILL brutal out here. (Also it’s nice to finally be seen as a fellow unable-to-parallel-park-driver.) Next, ‘Traitor’ showcases her vocals beautifully, in a tear-jerking ballad written so poignantly heartbroken with the line, “you didn’t cheat but you’re still a traitor”. The two newest singles, sarcastic ‘good 4 U’ and callout serenade ‘deja vu’ are perfection, with just the right amount of cool and angsty and 100% chance of getting stuck in your head.
To combat the critics she knew she’d receive, she smartly made sure to write about more than her love life; ‘jealousy jealousy’ addresses the confusing habit of comparison to peers/people on social media and how to navigate your own identity in that world, while ‘hope u r ok’ is a solid support love letter to the LGBTQ+ community. The lyric, “I hope you know how proud I am you were created with the courage to unlearn all of their hatred”, makes you really hopeful that the next generation will be more empathetic than their predecessors.
While you can write a list of other female pop artists she may remind you of, it’s pointless to even bring it up. She’s influenced by strong messages and has already mastered creating fantastic song bridges that honor those women, sure, but the fact remains that she has developed a unique sound that’s all her own, with undeniable talent so refreshing, you simply can’t get enough.
It reminds you of how precious it is to feel every emotion so intensely, all at once. She uses it as her songwriting superpower, instead of just sticking to the generic in hopes of being liked. The up-and-coming future of pop is in great hands with Olivia at the helm, and to think, this is truly just the beginning for her, so it’ll be so exciting to see how she’ll continue to soar from this debut springboard. Sour is an album that has every song pull their equal weight, with each so relatable and catchy for a different reason. Ultimately, it goes to show yet again that great music can come from anyone, and is for everyone. Now buckle up, grab your Driver’s License, and take Sour for another spin.