REVIEW: ‘Drivers License’ is a Hit

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Photo obtained from Apple Music

“Drivers License” has taken the world by storm, holding its ground at number 1 on Billboard’s “Hot 100.”

By Isabella DeRose, Lead Arts and Culture Editor

Up until Jan.  8, going to the DMV to get your driver’s license was merely a monotonous formality standing between you and your newfound freedom as a 17-year-old. However, after Olivia Rodrigo’s hit single “Drivers License” single-handedly redefined this coming-of-age experience, I am counting down the days until I have a car of my own solely to cry to this song on repeat. Standing its ground as number one on the Hot 100 Billboard for three consecutive weeks since its release, Rodrigo has made her mark on a generation of heartbroken adolescents.

It is rare that a Disney star makes a name for themselves outside of the Disney brand, however Rodrigo made a big splash in the ‘big girl’ music industry with a song detailing her inability to enjoy getting her drivers license without her significant other accompanying her in the passenger seat. Rodrigo proudly displays her raw emotion, vulnerability and insecurity on her sleeve as she reflects on the failure of her first love as well as his moving on to a new, older woman. 

Encapsulating the styles of the modern greats-Taylor Swift, Lorde, Billie Elish, etc.- “Drivers License” ranges from a catchy chorus blessed with jaw-dropping high notes to verses with building intensity. The emotion Rodrigo embodies in every note remains constant throughout the entire song. In fact, you can almost hear her voice break on the final verse. Despite her rising celebrity status, the vulnerability she expresses through her vocals creates a sense of  intimacy between her and her listeners. The connection when listening to the song feels more like a therapy session between close friends than strangers.  

While the vocals are incredible, Rodrigo has her lyrics to thank for the song’s immense popularity, for they encapsulate the grieving process of an unsuccessful first relationship that all teenagers can identify with. For instance, in her opening verse, she captures the insecurity that plagues all adolescent relationships, for she worries she will never compare to her ex-boyfriends blonde, gorgeous and mature new girlfriend. While he has moved onto seemingly ‘better’ things, Rodrigo is left “driving through the suburbs” in solitude wondering why she was not good enough. 

The song has also stirred the pot of Disney star drama, as fans wonder who is responsible for Rodrigo’s heartache. Speculators have pinpointed the heartbreaker to be Rodrigo’s “High School Musical the Musical the Series” co-star Joshua Bassett, and his new love interest being fellow Disney star Sabrina Carpenter. This love triangle has gotten more and more juicy as Carpenter and Bassett released their own singles-“Lie, Lie, Lie” and “Skin”-that seemingly tell their side of the story. As the plot thickens, fans wonder whether they uncovered the jackpot of messy celebrity relationship drama, or if they have stumbled into another Disney orchestrated publicity stunt. 

We are only one month into 2021, and only  three weeks into the song’s release, yet  I am already wondering if it is too soon to name “Drivers License” as song of the year. Either way, between  Rodrigo’s fantastic song writing skills, phenomenal voice and upcoming release of season two of “High School Musical the Musical the Series,”  her popularity is far from a brief drive-by; luckily for us, Rodrigo and her heartbreak anthems are here for the many years to come.