On ‘Sour,’ Olivia Rodrigo Is A Lowercase Girl With Caps-Lock Feelings. Lowercase girls are likely to fly below the radar by design, however when you begin wanting you may see them in every single place. For one factor, they have been all around the streaming charts prior to now few years: folklore, evermore, “thank u, subsequent,” woman in purple, mxmtoon, dodie, beabadoobee, how i am feeling now, “drivers license,” “deja vu,” “good 4 u” — to call just some current, femme-forward musical phenomena that would not even think of imposing the tyranny of capital letters on the listener’s creativeness.
However lowercase girls have been there eternally, within the again rows of school rooms and the corners of events, daydreaming, doodling, stockpiling vivid particulars and observations within the marble notebooks of their minds — ready for the exact second to launch them like a rigorously crafted dart that punctures everyone else’s apathy and proves simply how sharply she has been paying consideration. Among the better of them by no means develop out of it. “My solely benefit as a reporter,” Joan Didion wrote in 1968, unwittingly describing her personal species completely, “is that I’m so bodily small, so temperamentally unobtrusive, and so neurotically inarticulate that folks are likely to overlook that my presence runs counter to their finest pursuits. And it at all times does.” Beware the lowercase woman. Though she is normally neglected, underestimated and even ignored, she typically seems to be the one who’s been writing the story all alongside.
Such had been the cultural forces that Sour Olivia Rodrigo harnessed, streamlined and gloriously melo-dramatized earlier this 12 months in her breakout single, “drivers license” — stylized all Lowercase Girl, due to course. A lifelong Swiftie (nearly actually: When Taylor Swift’s self-titled debut album got here out, Rodrigo was 3) and the daughter of a therapist, Rodrigo was raised to be the sort of one who did not precisely cover her emotions. On the refrain of the track that accelerated her to in a single day fame, she saves her most impassioned vocal supply for what she clearly considers to be her ex’s most grievous crime: Guess you did not imply what you wrote in that track about me. The implication being that in her songs, defiantly, she means each phrase.
In the previous few years, given the success of Billie Eilish’s ASMR jams and Swift’s delicate acoustic reveries, it has typically felt like pop musicians are taking part in one huge spherical of the Quiet Game, daring one another into an ever extra provocative hush. “drivers license” actually advantages from that tonal shift, however probably the most transferring factor approximately the track is definitely its careening sense of dynamism, the best way it swings repeatedly from a non-public muttering to a collective, belt-it-out exorcism of the center. Such is the facility of
That Bridge. (Maybe the surest indication of the track‘s huge, cross-generational enchantment is the truth that its bridge impressed each a TikTok problem and an SNL skit — some children could have been enhancing their small-screen video responses to it as their mother and father watched the episode on some outdated technological innovation known as reside TV.) Rodrigo’s songs play out like bottled-up soliloquies quite than two-sided conversations, which supplies them the emotional drive of somebody who has beforehand felt unheard (by an apathetic boyfriend, or possibly by grownup society writ giant) lastly talking her thoughts. And in order that bridge exposes the nice irony of not solely “drivers license,” however the lowercase girls herself. As a result of on the within, the place all the emotions are, her caps-lock secret’s JAMMED.
“drivers license” would have been a tough act for any new artist to observe, however prior to now month, Sour Olivia Rodrigo has seized each alternative to show that there is extra to her than even that track may absolutely showcase. The 2 singles she’s launched within the lead-up to her debut album, Bitter, have effortlessly slipped into sudden genres — who amongst us may have predicted that the “drivers license”Lowercase girls would go scorched-earth pop-punk on her third single, or that she’d pull it off? — and each have been sprinkled with putting, cleverly documented observational particulars. “Buying and selling jackets, laughing ’bout how small it seems on you,”
she sings on the hypnotic “deja vu,” as a refrain of backup Olivias exhale a scathing line of canned, can-barely-be-bothered laughter at such a romantic cliché: ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. “Guess the therapist I discovered for you, she actually helped,” she shrugs on “good 4 u” — a kind of kung fu lyrics that cuts its supposed goal in seven totally different locations earlier than he even realizes he is bleeding. Rodrigo’s songs have lived-in particulars to spare, as if she had all this time been assembling an in depth file on the emotional trivialities of the teenage expertise.
The remarkably potent Bitter, out right this moment, performs the same recreation of bait-and-switch with expectations. Removed from the muted chords of “drivers license”—and worlds absent from the musical-theater sheen of her songs for Disney+’s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series — the album’s opening monitor, “brutal,” crashes in with a torrent of loud, crunchy guitars, overtop of which Rodrigo’s dryly compressed voice lists a seemingly never-ending string of adolescent neuroses: “And I do not stick up for myself / I am anxious and nothing might help / And I want I would finished this earlier than / And I want individuals preferred me extra.”
The and and and and‘s pile up like a teetering Jenga tower of stress. Olivia Rodrigo proved on “good 4 u” that she will do a really efficient vocal sneer, and on “brutal” she saves her most caustic one for the adults who insist, of their rose-colored recollections, that their teenage years had been the very best of their lives. “I am so sick of 17,” she sighs, “the place‘s my f****** teenage dream?!” It is an exhilarating lyric, an expertly calibrated eye roll at anybody over the age of 18 — or possibly even on the earlier era‘s whole philosophy approximately how pop music ought to be made.