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With “GUTS,” Olivia Rodrigo Comes Into Her Own
Olivia Rodrigo performs at the Met Philadelphia on May 6, 2022, in Philadelphia. (Heather Khalifa/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS) ©2023 Los Angeles Times. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Olivia Rodgrio released her sophomore album “GUTS” on Friday, Sept. 8. After the success of her first album, “SOUR,” released in May 2021, Rodrigo came back with two singles titled “vampire” and “bad idea right?” (both included on “GUTS”) over the summer. After the album’s release, both singles climbed in the billboard charts. “GUTS” debuted at No. 1 among albums, “vampire” found its way to No. 1 among songs, and “bad idea right?” landed at No. 9. The other 10 songs from the album all charted within the Top 40.

While “SOUR” demonstrates the pain and sadness that follows the end of a relationship, “GUTS” shows the feeling of growth following that mourning. Rodrigo still shows pain after a relationship reminiscent of her hit single “drivers license” with tracks such as “the grudge” and “logical.” But Rodrigo moves past this pain, describing her discomfort and confusion after a breakup with the song “get him back!” where she sings, “Oh, I want sweet revenge and I want him again.” Rodrigo uses this double meaning to express her struggle in moving past a relationship due to her conflicting feelings. 

Rodrigo’s development is also demonstrated by songs that have nothing to do with relationships. In “all-american b—-,” “lacy,” and “pretty isn’t pretty,” Rodrigo laments about the beauty standards that society places upon women, singing “pretty isn’t pretty enough anyway” in the latter. Rodrigo gripes about feeling socially awkward in “ballad of a homeschooled girl,” where she sings about committing “social suicide.” With “teenage dream,” she vulnerably shares her fear of growing up, and, in a way, expresses doubt in the album’s theme of personal change, singing, “they all say that it gets better/It gets better, but what if I don’t?” This expresses an idea she put forth in the “SOUR” track “brutal,” where she asks, “Where’s my f——  teenage dream?”

“Brutal” stands out a bit among the other songs on “SOUR” with its rock vibes. Rodrigo has expressed a desire to include more rock influences in her music, and in “GUTS,” she shows advancement in this genre with songs like “bad idea right?” which are far grungier than the likes of “drivers license” and other songs from her debut album. However, songs such as “vampire” are full-on piano ballads. This mashup of genres into one 12-song album might be confusing, but, instead, this mixture of genres enhances Rodrigo’s point throughout the album: growing is confusing.

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Michael London
Michael London, Production Editor

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