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From Sour to Guts: Olivia Rodrigo’s Sophomore Album

Olivia Rodrigo took the world on a rollercoaster of emotions with her album SOUR in May of 2021. Her album featured the innermost feelings of a seventeen-year-old whose experiences unexpectedly resonated with millions. Her single “Driver’s License” was the top song on every chart with millions of fans, young and old, singing in their cars. It was, quite frankly, the bridge screamed ‘round the world.’ Watch out everyone, Olivia Rodrigo is here to stay.

Transition to now, Rodrigo’s sophomore album GUTS, released on Sept. 8, is a change in era. The album’s singles “Vampire” and “Bad Idea Right?” soared to the top spots in the weeks prior, so naturally, the hopes for the album were sky-high. At first listen, this Rodrigo is entirely different from the girl who wrote SOUR. She sounds more mature and more grounded in who she is as an artist. However, similar to SOUR, the lyrics encompass everything there is to consider in the mind of a teenage girl. Each song on the album takes you on a journey through what she’s feeling at that exact moment in time.

The album vibe has a90s, early 2000s sound with a hint of 80s rock. Hear me out— it might sound like a lot, but for her it works! If it were any other artist, I would be inclined to raise an eyebrow or two. However, Rodrigo is in some ways a modern-day Joan Jett, Alanis Morissette, and Avril Lavigne all in one. Let’s be honest, we all dig a sing/scream in the car song.

“All-American Bitch,” the first song on the tracklist, sets the scene for the rest of the album with its pop-punk-rock vibe and honest lyrics. The song packs a punch with its drumbeats, going from a soft, beautiful vocal sound to its rock chorus. Not only does the song musically pack a punch, the lyrics do as well. Rodrigo is worshipped for her honest, teen-female point of view. In the song, she gives a sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek take on how a woman is supposed to act. She sings, “All the time, I’m grateful all the time / I’m sexy and I’m kind / I’m pretty when I cry,” which perfectly captures the unattainable standards set for young girls.

“Lacy” and “Pretty Isn’t Pretty” gave us the same “Jealousy, Jealousy” theme we got in SOUR. As female idolization and social media image are ever-present in our daily lives, it’s obvious this hits home for her especially.

She wouldn’t be Olivia Rodrigo without a few heartbreaking ballads. So, for those of you wanting some good crying material, you can listen to “Logical,” “The Grudge,” “Making the Bed,” and “Teenage Dream.” Compared to SOUR, this album has much more to offer than just songs about a guy. There’s something so beautiful about songs regarding growing up and the chaos of your last year being a teenager, and she communicates the stress and anxiety of growing up in this generation. She takes all of the ugly, shameful emotions and makes them something that people can connect to and, in a way, makes music a form of therapy.

What caused much controversy with her last album was figuring out who the songs were about. Rodrigo has stated in multiple interviews that the beautiful thing about music is you can relate to it however you want. It’s a unique experience for each person as you spend your 39 minutes and 18 seconds with GUTS. Just don’t break up with your significant other in an attempt to get the whole experience! Personally, I would have to say that my top five picks, in order, are “Teenage Dream,” “Logical,” “All-American Bitch,” “Making the Bed,” and “Get Him Back!”

It feels as though Rodrigo’s sound and emotions are here to stay. In her GUTS Instagram post, she said, “… I feel immensely grateful for everyone who has so generously supported me over the past few years. Thank you to everyone who has listened and streamed and been so kind. I owe so much to you guys & I really hope you dig these new songs.” With three Grammys on her shelf, she better make room for some more.

So, go ahead and hit shuffle on these 12 songs, but be prepared to sob uncontrollably, violently scream, and, most importantly, be reminded that being young is just as exciting as it is daunting. Chin up, fellow college students; Olivia Rodrigo has TWO albums for your young, angsty listening pleasures.