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Smooth Bananas: ‘Sour’

Olivia Rodrigo’s first solo album release, “Sour,” is the apex of the rolling ramp since her first solo hit, “Driver’s License.” 

The album, produced by Dan Nigro and released under label Geffen, is Rodrigo’s first solo album. Rodrigo got her start in music by landing a role on the Disney+ series “High School Musical: the Musical: the Series,” opposite fellow solo musician Joshua Bassett. The album features 11 tracks of varying lengths and has a run time of approximately 35 minutes. The various tracks are of varying styles reportedly stylized after Rodrigo’s primary musical inspirations such as Hayley Williams of Paramore and singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. 

The first thing to note about the album and Rodrigo herself is that she has shot into the spotlight in a most unusual path. Most Disney stars are heavily managed to the point of mental illness later in life, but Rodrigo has forged a slightly different path. She began as a small hit on Disney+ but soon the airwaves and TikTok were practically carpeted with her sound. “Driver’s License” spoke to a whole generation of young people who, as always, deal with heartbreak at some time. After her first single, she was quickly paraded on magazine covers, tabloid paperspaces, and even the stage of Saturday Night Live as the musical guest.  

The juxtaposition of this superfame shotgun to the top is that the subject of the album is incredibly relatable. The approach is almost Swiftian in the fact that Rodrigo is writing directly from her own experiences, putting her own terrible heartbreak on display for all to see. This titular heartbreak of course is with her co-star Joshua Bassett who had fans of both buzzing about the drama surrounding their relationship. The drama only increased when Bassett came out as queer during a video interview where he was asked about Harry Styles. Initially, much of the internet thought he was just kidding but he then released a clarification about his sexual orientation. Rodrigo’s fans had previously run the gamut on Bassett in the way that only social media fans can. 

Rodrigo’s experience with failed romance drives home the point that it absolutely sucks to lose a relationship that you were invested in. Her songs are a hard nail in all of our hearts because we have all had heartbreak to the Nth degree. Rodrigo and her producer Nigro take us on a full set of twists and turns that perfectly exemplify the very twists and turns of heartbreak. The album serves as a rare critique of the pop music image of the “teenage dream:” the idea that your teenage years are meant to be filled with joy and happiness related to young love. Rodrigo’s album stands out because she is a young Disney star. There are a multitude of examples of young Disney stars whose entire lives and images were intensely controlled from the top-down by Disney. Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, and the Jonas Brothers are all great examples of this phenomenon. Thankfully, Rodrigo comes from an entire generation removed from this shady marketing practice and she is allowed much creative freedom in her own music. 

“Sour” by Olivia Rodrigo receives an A rating. 

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