After years of anticipation, Olivia Rodrigo makes a stunning comeback with her sophomore album, “GUTS.” Released on Sept. 8, she delves into the world of heartbreak and most importantly: leaving your teen years behind. By leaning into a more pop-rock genre while still maintaining her soft yet powerful ballads, Rodrigo does an excellent job at recounting the teen experience and gearing up for adulthood.
On her first record, “SOUR,” we saw some of the teen angst Rodrigo had been holding onto after her breakup with “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” costar, Joshua Bassett. After making chart-topping records with “driver’s license” and “deja vu,” it was no surprise that “SOUR” gained the exact same success. Rodrigo gave us a glimpse into her life as she searched for the kind of teen experience that everyone else had. After winning three Grammy Awards in 2022 for Best Pop Album, New Artist and Solo Performance, Rodrigo began the writing process for what I believe is her best album.
What I love most about “GUTS” is how fitting for the times it is. Rodrigo is making music for those who picture themselves in a music video, daydreaming that they’re the main character in an early 2000s movie with its Avril Lavigne-flair. Starting the record off with “all-american bitch” sets the tone for the rest of the album and teases that Rodrigo does not shy away from mixing two different sounds. Seeing as it’s followed by my personal favorite, “bad idea right?” she begins to realize that her actions have consequences, deciding to be herself and deal with the harsh reality later. After hearing those two songs as the opening, followed by “vampire,” I could tell that Rodrigo was taking us on a ride.
With songs like “lacy” and “get him back!” becoming trending songs on TikTok, you can’t help but acknowledge why they’re two of the most popular songs off the album. “lacy” speaks truth into being jealous of someone and always being second best while trying to grin and bear it. On the other hand, “get him back!” describes the toxic relationship she can’t escape, and when she’s at home, she just wants him back at all costs. It felt like she understood what it was like to want something undeniably bad for you and made it into a pop hit.
Another favorite of mine is “making the bed,” a song about how sitting with your mistakes and getting what you want doesn’t always make you happy. I appreciate how Rodrigo encapsulates the feelings of having dread over something once joyful and how there’s no one to blame but yourself. It makes perfect sense, seeing that as a young adult, having to live with your mistakes in order to correct them is easier said than done.
On the albums grand finale, “teenage dream,” Rodrigo sings of no longer being a teenager and if she’s going to be able to live up to the potential she’s set up for herself. When you’re young, all you want to be is older and make your own decisions. Is it all worth the pain and decisions we put ourselves through? As Rodrigo poses this question to listeners, it feels refreshing to hear someone acknowledge the fears of leaving your teenage years behind and trying to accept that what you are doing is what is best for you. While I may not be a global popstar, I can still relate in the sense that entering adulthood in a world where you feel like you’re always trying to be the best version of yourself is a very scary.
On Sunday, Billboard reported that “GUTS” reached number one on the Top 200 chart and Rodrigo is the first female artist to have two album entries on top of the charts in nine years, following Ariana Grande’s “Yours Truly” in 2013 and “My Everything” in 2014. Now gearing up for her world tour starting in February of next year, Rodrigo has succeeded in her desire to create another album that speaks to her fans, both young and 20-something adults.
Featured photo courtesy of @oliviarodrigo, X