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A “GUTS”-Wrenching New Album

Review of Olivia Rodrigo’s New Album “GUTS”

Photo by Justin Higuchi / CC BY 2.0 / Cropped from original

In her early days, Olivia Rodrigo was best known for her roles on Disney Channel and her rumored relationship with Joshua Bassett. Two years ago, however, the singer-songwriter dropped her first-ever album “Sour,” breaking numerous records. Following this success, Rodrigo, with help from producers such as Dan Nigro, Julia Michaels and Amy Allen, came out with her new album “GUTS” on Friday, Sept. 8. It was a hit, receiving over 60 million streams within the first day. What makes “GUTS” great is its relatable lyrics, especially the ones about trauma and despair of heartbreak. On top of this, the diverse and witty soundtrack makes the music catchy and enjoyable to listen to.

Before the release, Rodrigo dropped two singles, “Vampire” and “Bad Idea Right?” “Vampire” is a musical masterpiece because of its unique angle on celebrity lifestyle. Rodrigo centers on the common struggle many celebrities face: being used for fame. On top of the message the song portrays, the overall rhythm and beats of the song are catchy and fun. For example, the chorus of the song “Cause I've made some real big mistakes/ but you make the worst one look fine/I should've known it was strange/you only come out at night/I used to think I was smart/but you made me look so naive” is repetitive, making it fun to sing and easy to memorize.

Though Rodrigo’s idea comes from a fame standpoint, many still relate to the generic idea in the song: being used. It begins slow on the piano, but after about a minute drums, electric guitars and synthesizers start to come into play and turn the song into a rant full of anger. Throughout the song, Rodrigo balances the feelings of disappointment and rage connecting them to both of these situations. The second single from the album, “Bad Idea Right?” was released on Friday, Aug. 11. In the song, Rodrigo repeatedly asks the same question: “Seeing you tonight, is a bad idea right?” because the main point of this song revolves around reuniting with an ex-boyfriend and keeping it a secret from your friends because you know it is a bad idea. It has a pop-punk-styled beat, from the standpoint of a teenage drama queen.  About two minutes into the song, Rodrigo has an energetic and lively guitar solo which is rare for most pop songs nowadays. It added something new to the album, giving it an original fun flow. The vocal performance and bass in the song build a lively beat as well. Both of the singles capture the concept of pop rock with responsive lyrics and advanced use of drums, guitars and vocals.

Rodrigo does a fantastic job lyrically and instrumentally by displaying emotions such as humiliation, manipulation, rage, jealousy and pain. One song that shows these emotions is “The Grudge.” She is tormenting herself over a breakup and explains how she cannot stand up for herself. Rodrigo uses lyrics like “And I fantasize about a time when you’re a little fucking sorry.”  Her use of acoustics and piano musically brings together the ballad of the song. Compared to her other songs, “The Grudge” has less of an energetic execution, making it easier for a listener to understand the heartache Rodrigo is expressing. “Get Him Back!” has a mix of pop-punk tunes with its drum programming and slide guitars. The main emotion appears to be Rodrigo’s indecisiveness of whether she wants to get back with her ex or get him back for what he did to her. Lyrics like “I wanna key his car/ I wanna make him lunch” accomplish the feeling of confession and revenge Rodrigo is portraying in the song. All throughout the new album, Rodrigo uses an assortment of instruments to demonstrate the different tempos in each song. For instance, “Teenage Dream” has a long powerful piano ballad which makes the point of being a troubled ingénue even more influential and touching for listeners. The song embodies unintentional feelings of regret due to “growing up” too fast and fear of peaking in high school. Rodrigo illustrates this in the chorus; “But I fear that they already got all the best parts of me and I'm sorry that I couldn't always be your teenage dream.” Altogether, Rodrigo does an exponential job of matching her lyrics and tempos to the general emotion or feelings in the song.

Overall, Oliva Rodrigo’s new album is phenomenal. The singles are unique, catchy, creative, relatable and the various instruments bring it all together. Her two singles also demonstrate a mix of emotions incorporated into the whole album. She did a remarkable job of using different types of pop music such as rock, punk and indie. Each song typically has a different genre of music depending on the emotions of the songs making the album enjoyable and different too.

<Star Rating>

Singles: ★★★★★

Emotions/ lyrics: ★★★★★

Instruments: ★★★★★


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