One of the hazards of paying attention to music charts and hearing about songs before they reach the charts is being informed about melodrama that both deeply resonates with one personally and also demonstrates some of the issues that are at the basis of a great deal of art, including no little portion of my own. Let’s talk about Olivia Rodrigo. In talking about her, and her song “Driver’s License,” there are two basic responses that one could have. There are a great many people who do not yet know about this song, and who therefore have no idea that I am talking about a young woman who is soon to be among the youngest people to ever have a debut #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100, given the way that it has simply taken over a great deal of streaming, including Spotify, TikTok, and YouTube. And there will be plenty of people who have heard the song and are deeply aware of the personal melodrama in the singer’s life that, as has often happened in the past and is likely to happen in the future, inspired melodramatic art to deal with the heartbreak of a painful and unhappy love triangle.
If you have never heard of Olivia Rodrigo before, and you listen to the radio, you are likely going to be hearing a lot about her in coming weeks and maybe months. Olivia is, as of the time of writing, a seventeen year old young lady, whose debut major label single “Driver’s License” is about the regret and mourning that she feels over her relationship with another artist, one Joshua Bassett, who happens to be twenty years old. Obviously, relationships, and even romantic interest, between adults and teenagers is highly problematic and likely to cause everyone a great deal of trouble, as is the case here. Joshua apparently prompted romantic hopes with Olivia, who was too young to have a relationship with, and then went and dated someone his own age, Sabrina Carpenter, referred to in the song as being the older blond girl who made Olivia feel insecure. Olivia herself, as an actress in the High School Musical series and someone who has already hit the Hot 100 as part of that soundtrack, is heading for a great deal of popular series.
In listening to the song with the awareness that Miss Rodrigo is a singer-songwriter who has been praised and celebrated by such current singer-songwriters as Taylor Swift, it’s not hard to see how she fits in with a certain sort of artistic person who creates art out of the melodrama of life. Taylor Swift has been rather infamous for writing a great many songs, from her debut album to the present-day about her romantic life. Given the romantic instability of Taylor’s life, a lot of people have ended up being the subject of songs by Taylor relating to the ups and usually downs of their relationships. It does appear as if Taylor Swift can find much to relate to in the song’s sad girl portrayal of a girl who just got her driver’s license, but is unable to enjoy it because she’s pining over a guy who is dating someone else and she is heartbroken about it because she’s still in love with him. This melodrama in fact reminds me of the melodrama of Lorde’s latest album , and the song itself contains some of the same sort of color imagery, and establishes Olivia as being an artist in the same kind of lane that Lorde is, and that is definitely a good thing as someone who appreciates melancholic music.
In listening to “Driver’s License,” found myself feeling both sympathetic and strangely empathetic to the singer. As someone who has driven through the suburbs and reflected on the people who lived there with whom there was personal history, I can feel this song. Olivia Rodrigo comes off as being somewhat raw, as well as talented and insecure. It is easy to feel this song; it comes off as being honest and convincing as a portrayal of heartbrokenness. In fact, I feel as if this song is on a similar vein to Illenium’s “Good Things Fall Apart” with Jon Bellion, which is one of my all-time favorite songs to never hit the Hot 100 though it tried hard and came very close to doing so. Whether or not it is good thing, I can definitely relate to the song and the approach. I don’t know how much more we are going to see of this song, but it certainly appears to have resonated in a big way with a lot of people, and there are a lot of people who can definitely feel a song about isolated and insecurity. “Driver’s License” may be a classic case of teenage melodrama, but melodrama is widely appealing for good reasons.
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