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Olivia Rodrigo – Driver’s License

The debut single by the 17-year-old Disney actress has caught the attention, and the subsequent tsunami of hype, of many this week and the air is thick with the sound of broken records, but what is the secret formula that makes this track so beautiful and just so good?


15/01/21


4/5

Photo credit: Olivia Rodrigo - 'Driver's License' official single artwork | Geffen


As someone who prides themself in the fact that they survived 2020 without having created a TikTok account and views themself as being simply the least mainstream person you will ever meet, I ignored the many many Instagram stories, tweets and Spotify notifications that were hyping up 17-year-old Disney actress turned singer-songwriter, Olivia Rodrigo’s, debut single, Driver’s License. However, after a few days of proudly claiming to be “way too cool” to jump on the bandwagon, I finally gave in and stuck the song on, just to see why it was getting so much attention.


And damn, I was not disappointed.


Driver’s License is everything that music should be. It tells a story, documenting the emotions and feelings that one experiences when moving on from a relationship, yet it is so simple that it comes across as completely effortless. The track itself revolves around a very simple sounding piano progression, whilst Rodrigo euphoniously sings painfully confessional lines such as “How could I ever love someone else?” and “And I just can't imagine/How you could be so okay now that I'm gone”, words so elegant they almost come effortlessly , giving the impression that the listener is watching a complete coming of age movie unfolding through their headphones, within four minutes, in which Rodrigo is the main character, driving around aimlessly, in hope of reaching a past love, one last time. It’s so relatable and so moving that it almost feels intrusive listening to it. It’s personal, and Rodrigo’s song writing and storytelling is so vivid and so poignant, that it’s almost impossible to imagine how much she is going to progress over her next releases – after all, she is so young and this is only her debut single.


And for a debut single, it is truly remarkable how well the track has done, in just its first week being out in the world, and free for us all to cry to and reminisce about past loves, or imagine ourselves as the protagonist in a teen movie, set in the Summer to, it has already climbed the charts, claiming the #1 spot on the UK Official Charts, straight away, along with breaking Ed Sheeran’s record of the most streamed song in 24 hours, and the Official Charts Company’s record for highest number of single day streams for a non-Christmas single (for context, Driver’s License was streamed 2.407 million times in its first 24 hours of release).


Driver’s License has also been given the seal of approval by the queen of storytelling within song writing, herself, Taylor Swift, with Swift commenting on Rodrigo’s Instagram post, captioned with “next to Taylor on the US iTunes chart, I’m in a puddle of tears”, with “I say that’s my baby and I’m really proud.” Considering the track gives off major sad girl vibes, and wouldn’t feel out of place on Swift’s 2008 sophomore album, ‘Fearless’, a collection of songs that see the singer-songwriter balance her dreams of a fairy-tale romance with the reality of her dreams going sour, there is no surprise that Swift loves it as much as the rest of us.


Although the past relationship that Rodrigo reflects on was not perfect, the art that came out of it is. It’s evocative storyline and simplicity is what makes it so special, and stand out from the rest of the current hot hits, making it everything that music should be, right now. More songs like this in 2021, please!


KATIE HILLIER


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