driver’s license Analysis: What makes it so popular?

By Lila Troum

Olivia Rodrigo is a 17-year-old actress and singer who, on January 8th, released her newest song driver’s license. This song instantly gained popularity, quickly becoming number one on Apple’s Top 100 playlist within days of the song’s release, as well as breaking Spotify’s record for most streams in one day. As of writing this, it’s been almost 20 days since the song’s release, and driver’s license is still topping the charts on all major music streaming platforms. A question I had while watching videos and reading about this song is: what exactly makes it so popular? 

One of the big things that I think captivates Rodrigo’s audience is the drama that surrounds the song. Olivia Rodrigo and co-star Joshua Bassett were a pair that both starred in Disney’s High School Musical: the Musical: the Series, where the two played the roles of love interests. This on-screen relationship soon turned into a possible spark, as there’d been speculations about off-screen chemistry, as well. Never confirmed, though very much hinted at, their relationship was rumored to end summer of 2020. Shortly after, Bassett had been rumored to have been in a new relationship with Sabrina Carpenter. driver’s license is a heartfelt song that talks about the pain of having to do something that hurts because of the significant memory of someone who isn’t in your life anymore; it’s the sticky goop that is the feeling of not being able to move on and constantly being reminded of those past memories. Joshua Bassett taught Olivia Rodrigo how to drive. He introduced her to that, her first memories of driving were surrounded by him. This song heavily connects the two with the lines “I got my driver’s license last week, just like we always talked about,” referring to how the two of them bonded over this new skill for Olivia, and something that signified importance to that. The song also takes swings at Sabrina Carpenter, with the lines “You’re probably with that blonde girl… she’s so much older than me.” Sabrina Carpenter is four years older than Rodrigo, and is, in fact, blonde. 

Another thing that I think really captivates listeners everywhere is the message of the song and what it stands for. This song is, simply, not being able to get over a past relationship and being reminded of it constantly. Heartbreak is something that everybody experiences in their lifetime, and the feeling of being haunted by it isn’t rare, it’s something that Rodrigo’s demographic knows rather well and can empathize with. Being able to relate to lyrics of a song make the song significantly more meaningful to the listener. Though, in this case driver’s license isn’t necessarily a metaphor, it can be used in place of anything that could remind someone of a past flame, which is why it’s so engaging–why it’s so relatable. I’m sure most of us are suckers for a good sad song, which is exactly what this song is. 

Overall, driver’s license is a great song. It’s packed with emotion and drama and is perfect to blast in your headphones and cry to. Olivia Rodrigo truly put time and effort into this song, and it 100% deserves all the attention it’s getting. 

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