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Olivia Rodrigo spills her ‘GUTS’ in brutally honest sophomore album

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Rob Corder | Flickr

Olivia Rodrigo is bringing back early 2000s mainstream pop-rock sound with her sophomore album “GUTS” released on Sept. 8.

The 20-year-old singer-songwriter encapsulates the intense emotions young women experience in early adulthood so perfectly that it’s hard for listeners to distinguish her emotions from those of an established adult.

The album features producers Alexander 23, Ian Kirkpatrick and Ryan Linvill.

Rodrigo’s leads with “vampire,”  a ballad reminiscent of her previous release, “SOUR,” before shifting into a major pop-rock transition with “bad idea right?,” which channels the sounds of pop-rock musicians Avril Lavigne and Hayley Williams.

Rodrigo is not afraid to show her ugliest emotions, which makes her music more relatable to a large audience. She’s self-aware and unashamed.

The singer-songwriter does not shy away from her experiences of insecurity, jealousy and being taken advantage of. Rather than dwelling on the confusion of heartbreak from “SOUR,” Rodrigo dives deeper into understanding how the loss affected her.

“GUTS” sets the tone for the album with “all-american bitch”. In the song, she is frustrated with the expectations set upon her as an Asian-American woman.

Rodrigo’s light flowery verses clash with the upbeat aggressive chorus is accompanied by a belting scream during the bridge, representing a rollercoaster of female frustration.

However, Rodrigo has confused some listeners with “lacy.”

It can be hard to tell if she is jealous of the song’s subject or in love with her, but it’s somewhat a mix of both. There is an inherent appreciation for things one can be jealous of. Rodrigo previously dabbled with this concept on the “SOUR” track “jealousy, jealousy.”

In “making the bed” Rodrigo expresses her regret about fame. It’s especially jarring, considering her accumulated massive success, but she no longer finds it enjoyable and feels she only has herself to blame.

The double entendre of “get him back” features playfully clever lyrics such as “I wanna kiss his face, with an uppercut.” She starts the song with the idea of getting back together with her ex before wanting to get back at him rather than get back with him.

Songs such as “get him back,” “ballad of a homeschooled girl” and “love is embarrassing” use musical elements especially reminiscent of early 2000s music with the latter including an addictive synth bass.

Rodrigo has the most skittish tones in these songs where her commitment to acting out her confusion and sarcasm work well in a way that cannot be easily replicated.

The theme of age and being taken advantage of is also an incredibly pivotal part of Rodrigo’s songwriting. In “logical,” Rodrigo sings “said I was too young, I was too soft.”  Some fans speculate the song refers to producer Zack Bia, who allegedly dated the 19-year-old singer when he was 26-years-old.

In “teenage dream” she asks, “when am I gonna stop being wise beyond my years and just start being wise?” This verse continues the theme of having to act older than she really is, which is contradictory to “all-american bitch” where she says she knows her age “and acts like it.”

“Teenage dream” comes full circle and closes the album. She feels pressured to flawlessly act older than she is and is ultimately tired of it.

Rodrigo is not afraid to challenge conventional norms on “GUTS.” The album rings true to her self-aware, self-critical character while laughing about it.

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Sarah Gabriel, Production Assistant
Sarah Gabriel is a Production Assistant at The Ticker.
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