If Olivia Rodrigo has proven one thing in her 2021 debut album SOUR, it’s that she’s the Queen of Teen Angst. From her first hit “drivers license” to rage-fueled “good 4 u,” Rodrigo established herself as a teen icon fresh to the pop music scene.
On Sept. 8, Rodrigo earned herself a new title: Pop Punk Princess. In GUTS, Rodrigo’s music grows up with her as she delivers the heart-wrenching ballads her fans have come to expect while building out her repertoire of upbeat music and refining her “good 4 u” style.
GUTS opens with the hard-hitting track “all-american bitch.” The song begins with a simple guitar riff, allowing Rodrigo’s lyrics to shine through as she expresses the pressure she feels to be a perfect public figure. The sweet tone of the verses contrasts the cathartic explosion of sound in each chorus.
“I know my age and I act like it / got what you can’t resist,” Rodrigo belts as rock-and-roll guitars roar.
She closes the track by returning to her ironic sweetness, denouncing the forced graciousness she must express while being sexualized and adored for her heartbreak.
“I’m grateful all the time / I’m sexy and I’m kind / I’m pretty when I cry,” she sings.
“get him back!” defines the indecision that comes with heartbreak. With a strong percussive line, electric bass, and layered harmonies, Rodrigo creates an anthem for the female breakup experience. Through her witty one-liner lyrics, Rodrigo spends the song debating getting her revenge or loving him again, but either way she plans to get him back, even if it means she’ll “kiss his face with an uppercut.”
In “the grudge,” a ballad, Rodrigo captures the grief of a relationship’s end and the inability to forgive and move on. Simple piano is supplemented by building strings as Rodrigo’s heart-wrenching vocals soar. Her lyrics are straightforward, but they cut deep.
“I know, in my heart, hurt people hurt people / And we both drew blood, but, man, those cuts were never equal,” Rodrigo sings.
The song poignantly represents the emotions that linger, even when wanting the heartbreak to pass.
At its core, GUTS is about the unique experience of being 19 and on the cusp of adulthood. Through cry-worthy ballads and scream-in-the-car anthems, Rodrigo’s work encapsulates female rage, desire, insecurity, growing pains, and grieving love, even when it isn’t healthy. Rodrigo spilled her guts and created some of her most promising work to date, leaving listeners excited to hear what she’ll write next, now that her teenage dream years are past.