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SOUR Album Review

Previously published Jun 2. 2021

Previously published Jun 2. 2021

Olivia Rodrigo. The eighteen-year-old Disney actress-turned-singer, a young artist who has been compared to Taylor Swift and Lorde—musical artists from whom she has found inspiration.


Born in 2003, Rodrigo moved to Los Angeles from her hometown of Murrieta, in Riverside County, to pursue an acting career. As a cast member in the Disney Channel show Bizaardvark, she began her professional singing career by singing the show’s theme song. She was subsequently a cast member in the Disney+ series High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, which premiered in November 2019, before signing a contract with Interscope Records and Geffen Records last year.


SOUR Track List

Rodrigo, who became a household name through her début single “drivers license,” has created an eclectic album, SOUR, with eleven tracks that range from Avril Lavigne-esque rock (“brutal” and “good 4 u”) to soft, delicate songs such as the piano-accented “1 step forward, 3 steps back” and the guitar-strum-filled “favorite crime,” the penultimate track in the album.


This album exhibits a wide array of genres, tempos, and volumes. The listener can appreciate Rodrigo’s wide vocal range after spending thirty-five minutes listening to the whole album. The songs center around a theme of failed romance, and the detailed descriptions of heartbreak that are contained in her highly self-aware lyrics make listening to her album a pleasure.


As a Filipino-American whose family follows Filipino traditions, Olivia Rodrigo is helping to dismantle stereotypes about Asian-American and Pacific Islander individuals, choosing to be loud and unapologetically herself. The following excerpts from “brutal,” the album’s opening track, display her lyrical talent; her angst and pseudo-nihilism clearly shine through:


And I’m so sick of seventeen / Where’s my [expletive] teenage dream? […] And I’m not cool and I’m not smart / And I can’t even parallel park / All I did was try my best / This the kind of thanks I get? / Unrelentlessly upset (ah, ah, ah) / They say these are the golden years / But I wish I could disappear / Ego crush is so severe / God, it’s brutal out here


Apple Music Top 100 Global as of May 28, 2021

Rodrigo built anticipation for the album by releasing “drivers license” (January 8), “deja vu” (April 1), and “good 4 u” (May 14) before the official album release on May 21. She teased the album on social media for several weeks, and her songs have been dominating the Billboard Hot 100 and the Spotify and Apple Music charts ever since the album was released. On the streaming charts, the songs from SOUR eclipsed the other songs that were released last week, including “Butter” by BTS, “Sun Goes Down” by Lil Nas X, and Nicki Minaj’s “Beam Me Up Scotty” mixtape, which features Drake and Lil Wayne on its opening track, “Seeing Green.”



Spotify Top 50 USA as of May 28, 2021

Avid Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo aficionado Hriday Chhabria, a BISV senior, was elated to hear that Rodrigo was releasing her début album, especially given the thematic and aesthetic similarities between the two artists. Hriday enjoys the “incredibly mature […] lyricism and great voice modulation […] evok[ing] a wide range of emotions.” This album’s eclectic mix of genres and Rodrigo’s extensive vocal range were overwhelming for many fans. Hriday recalled, “It took me four days to process ‘traitor,’ after which I proceeded to listen to the rest of the album.”


Despite her successes, Olivia Rodrigo has faced accusations of being an industry plant, and some in the music industry establishment have not taken her seriously. Young artists, and young women artists especially, unfortunately routinely face such allegations, often without any basis, but Olivia Rodrigo’s passion and emotional connection to her lyrics are self-evident.


SOUR is a great work of art—managing to balance being soft and delicate with being loud and passionate. Her budding musical career appears to have a bright trajectory, and as a member of Gen Z, she will definitely leave a lasting impact on the music industry.



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Colin Lim, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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