Written Before Listen
Olivia Rodrigo is one of the biggest and newest stars in the world right now.At the young age of 18, she is standing at the 22nd most listened to in Spotify as of now. She broke on to the scene with her breakout hit “drivers license”. Personally, I wasn’t big on the single as I thought the lyrics needed a lot of development. Her next single to hit number one was “good 4 u” and that was a track I actually liked. With that being said, Im coming to this album with mixed expectations. I don’t expect to love it but I don’t expect to dislike it that much either. Let’s see if she comes with pop record of the year here.
Olivia Rodrigo basically got her fame through her songwriting. The reason “drivers license” was such a hit was because of the target audience. This is a breakup album as she goes all over the map on that one particular topic. I will be real, I adore my fair share of breakup songs. Hell, one of my favorite songs of all time, “Runaway” by Kanye West is a full on breakup song. I just don’t think she is super strong on the topic yet. She’s too autobiographical. I think her lyrics are strong and vivid but she is topically frail. There is really only one exception on here lyrically which is the last track “hope ur ok”. The song is about a girl who experienced child abuse because of her parents not accepting her. Personally, that is the strongest song lyrically but everything else on the album goes too direct on a topic she isn’t experienced in yet,
The singing is easily the strongest aspect of the album. Olivia Rodrigo is one hell of a singer. Songs like “drivers license” and “favorite crime” are what to expect here but Olivia hits all notes with little to no autotune included. Songs like “brutal” and “good 4 u” show her angsty side as she brings an attitude not even her contemporaries can bring. Sure, there are some tracks like “Enough 4 u” and “traitor” where she delivers underwhelming melodies but for the majority of the record, she delivers.
Olivia Rodrigo’s style is bound to have comparisons. Her melodramatic style with her blend of angst goes back to the days of Taylor Swift and Lorde. The difference is that Lorde is so much more unique of a songwriter and you already know how I feel about the original Fearless. There is also “1 step forward, 3 steps back” where she reminds me of the new Lana Del Rey record. Overall, I think she brings a trendy sound to the table that she fits in pretty well. The problem occurs when we talk about how original she is.
This album is a tag team of Olivia herself and Dan Nigro. My guess is that Olivia arranges and Nigro plays. Unlike Rodrigo, Nigro is pretty experienced in the music scene as he has helped produce Caroline Polachek and Carly Rae Jepsen. I’m not super familiar with his production but he seems to be decent. I think the production choices really hurt the song at points. A lot of the ballads struggle from overproduction syndrome which is not surprising. That would’ve been fine but like 60% of the album is consisting of these ballads. Yeah, I think both Olivia and Dan need to step up the sonic aspect next time around.
As you know, I liked “good 4 u”. Another track that caught me by surprise is the indie sounding “deja vu” as her vocal performance exceeded expectations. I also think “brutal” is worth a mention due to its angsty delivery. It’s quite obvious that Olivias potential is still prevalent but she hasn’t really improved in the span of a couple months.
This is exactly what I expected. Melodramatic ballads with some flashes of angst on the album. I wish that there was more variety here and even for spanning 34 minutes, it seems like 50. With that being said, Olivia Rodrigo still has massive potential but didn’t really wow me or even grab me at any point in a positive way.