“I’m the love of your life until I make you mad.”
Before she is a singer, a Disney Channel star, or even a Taylor Swift stan, Olivia Rodrigo is a songwriter. The first song she wrote for her character on High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, “All I Want,” got the attention of Geffen Records, and the label signed her off the strength of her lyricism.
When the 18-year-old artist released her breakout hit “drivers license” in January 2021, her lyrics impacted the world more than anyone expected. The song spent eight weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, a rarity for anyone, let alone the debut single of a young artist. It spawned endless TikTok videos, YouTube covers, and memes that related to the song’s heartbreaking lyrics. As Rodrigo painted a picture of her breakup (rumored to be from her HSMTMTS co-star Joshua Bassett) using red lights, stop signs, and the celebratory moment of passing her driving test, countless people cried along with her, knowing the feeling of rejection all too well.
Now, Rodrigo is showing listeners what else she has up her sleeve with her debut album SOUR, which just may go on to become Gen Z’s defining breakup record. SOUR has given us the playlist we need to soundtrack our most recent heartbreaks — and perhaps the next one as well. These are the lyrics that cut the deepest, hurt the most, and feel too close for comfort.
• “They say these are the golden years. But I wish I could disappear.”
• “I only have two real friends, and lately I’m a nervous wreck.”
• “I’m so sick of 17. Where’s my f*ckin’ teenage dream? If someone tells me one more time ‘Enjoy your youth,’ I’m gonna cry.”
After the opening strings of “brutal,” Rodrigo says she “wants it to be, like, messy.” The song becomes just that, capturing the despairs of modern teenage angst through ‘90s grunge guitar riffs.
• “Brown guilty eyes.”
• “Guess you didn’t cheat, but you’re still a traitor.”
• “I played dumb but I always knew.”
On this devastating break-up ballad, Rodrigo effortlessly conveys how it feels to be betrayed by someone who technically didn’t do anything wrong, which somehow makes the pain even worse.
• “You’re probably with that blonde girl, who always made me doubt. She’s so much older than me. She’s everything I’m insecure about.”
• “I just can’t imagine how you could be so OK now that I’m gone.”
• “I still f*ckin’ love you, babe.”
On “drivers license,” you know what Rodrigo is doubting before she says it, and she effortlessly conveys the feeling of betrayal in just one line. But nothing hits harder then when she declares her love on that bridge.
• “I’m the love of your life until I make you mad.”
• “Do you love me, want me, hate me? Boy, I don’t understand.”
• “Which lover will I get today? Will you walk me to the door or send me home cryin’?”
“1 step forward, 3 steps back” samples the melody of Taylor Swift’s ballad “New Year’s Day” from her 2017 album Reputation. But lyrically, this song couldn’t be more opposite, as Rodrigo complains about her lover’s mood swings and flips the “emotionally unstable” stereotype used against women.
• “Watching re-runs of Glee, being annoying, singing in harmony.”
• “I made the jokes you tell to her when she’s with you.”
• “Strawberry ice cream in Malibu, don’t act like we didn’t do that shit too. You’re tradin’ jackets like we used to do. Yeah, everything is all reused.”
“deja vu” fits in so many details about such a specific situation that every line feels like a piece of a painting. Plus, it’s about time that artists got nostalgic for Glee.
• “I guess that therapist I found for you, she really helped. Now you can be a better man for your brand new girl.”
• “Remember when you swore to God I was the only person who ever got you? Well, screw that, and screw you.”
• “You’re doin’ great out there without me, baby, like a damn sociopath.”
Rodrigo doesn’t tolerate BS. She goes from finding her lover a therapist before their breakup to deeming him a sociopath across one song. That’s artistry.
• “All I ever wanted was to be enough for you.”
• “Stupid, emotional, obsessive little me. I knew from the start this is exactly how you’d leave.”
• “I read all of your self-help books so you’d think that I was smart.”
Everyone knows the emotion of feeling insufficient, even if you haven’t been a relationship. On “enough for you,” Rodrigo perfectly captures how no matter how hard you try to learn or improve, sometimes you just can’t shake that feeling.
• “I hope you’re happy, but don’t be happier.”
• “Think of me fondly when your hands are on her.”
• “Do you tell her she’s the most beautiful girl you’ve ever seen? An eternal love bullsh*t you know you’ll never mean.”
Most people don’t actually want their ex to be better off without them, but no one has the guts to actually say that. Thank Godlor (a.k.a. Swift) for Rodrigo, who not only does that, but says it better than we could in just one line.
• “Their win is not my loss.”
• “I’m not just cool vintage clothes and vacation photos.”
• “I think too much ‘bout kids who don’t know me.”
“jealousy, jealously” is aimed at Gen Z kids who get too caught up in the seemingly perfect lives of their peers on Instagram. But let’s get real: this also applies to millennials when they Facebook-stalk old classmates they haven’t even seen in ten years.
• “One heart broke, four hands bloody.”
• “I say that I hate you with a smile on my face.”
• “I crossed my heart as you crossed the line.”
Rodrigo goes folklore on “favorite crime,” crafting a high school Bonnie & Clyde narrative. However, instead of dying together, she realizes how toxic they are and breaks it off, knowing she’ll still miss it.
• “If you’re out there, I hope that you’re OK.”
• “Address the letters to the holes in my butterfly wings. Nothing’s forever, nothing’s as good as it seems.”
• “I hope you know how proud I am you were created — with the courage to unlearn all of their hatred.”
After a break-up album this angst-y, you may expect “hope ur ok” to be the amicable resolution. Instead, she turns her eyes to old friends she’s lost touch with, in the hopes that they can hear her somewhere. Maybe it’s time to call some people back.
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