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GUTS’ propels Oliva Rodrigo’s success in music

Rodrigo’s sophomore album is relatable, catchy and emotionally vulnerable.

Olivia Rodrigo has released her sophomore album just in time for the new school year. Rodrigo’s “GUTS” had most of us on the edge of our seats the days before the release, and the results didn’t disappoint. “GUTS” has a primordial focus, and it is easy to spot from the album’s first track. The coming-of-age album focuses on how every feeling seems to be amplified and how no one has a single clue about who they are.

“GUTS” has a distinct pop-rock sound reminiscent of Paramore and Katy Perry, and each song seems to tell its own story. Sincerity and honesty seem to bleed through every lyric in this album.

Starting off with her hit single, “vampire,” fans truly had no idea what to expect from her new album. “vampire” is slightly reminiscent of Rodrigo’s earliest release, “drivers license,” but with a bit more grit and subtlety.

Rodrigo’s second single “bad idea right?” is a fun anthem dedicated to the push-and-pulls and the “what ifs?” between someone and their ex. Not to mention, it has the makings of a fun karaoke song with its fast-paced lyrics. “bad idea right?” focuses on the absurdity of constantly going back to your ex when you know you shouldn’t.

The first track of the album, “all-american bitch,” starts off as a soft guitar melody, but then surprises the listener by moving into a fast-paced song that embraces body positivity, refusing to conform to typical American ideals. Rodrigo embraces her age and everything that comes with it, by rebelling against judgment while radiating confidence through her lyrics.

The fourth track of the album, “lacy,” focuses on jealousy and how toxic it can get. Rodrigo’s “lacy” focuses on the hyper fixation one gets on someone that they deem to be more beautiful. She sings, “You poison every little thing that I do” and “I despise my rotten mind and how much it worships you,” to show how constant comparison can escalate to toxicity.

The songs “ballad of a homeschooled girl” and “pretty isn’t pretty” talk about societal norms, and how hard it is to keep up with the ever-changing trends that young women are exposed to. To Rodrigo, nothing she does feels right. She struggles to embrace the fact that individuality is okay, even if sometimes she feels like a failure.

Track 8, “get him back!” is similar to “bad idea right?” but embraces getting back at one’s ex, whether or not it is a good idea. Sometimes with breakups, logic flies out the window. Rodrigo writes about wanting to get back into the relationship not because she loves him, but because she wants to get back at him.

Tracks 6, “making the bed,” and 12, “teenage dream,” focus on the harsh realities of finding fame young and being thrust into the spotlight. “teenage dream” focuses on the insecurity that fame can bring into one’s personal life, as well as the crises a person can experience. In Rodrigo’s case, her lyrics suggest that she fears that she has reached her musical peak. Rodrigo is brutally honest in “making the bed,” writing how she is disappointed with certain aspects of her life. It is refreshing to hear a young artist reveal that their lives aren’t perfect and that not everything on social media is real.

“logical,” “the grudge” and “love is embarrassing” are about romantic relationships, and how confusing and toxic they can get. Rodrigo writes in “logical” that not every relationship is perfect, and how quickly a relationship can turn manipulative. “love is embarrassing” and “the grudge” are about the start of a relationship, and how a person can be swept up by romance and consumed by a relationship that started too quickly. Rodrigo writes about how quickly a person’s self-worth can become intertwined with their relationship, and how it feels to realize that they have completely changed themselves to please someone else. Both “the grudge” and “love is embarrassing” are beautiful songs that tackle tough topics, and Rodrigo composed them in a way that makes the listener feel seen.

All in all, Rodrigo has managed to escape the notorious sophomore album curse of struggling to find success and continues to be a source of musical relatability to her coming-of-age listeners.

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