Olivia Rodrigo has already realized potential on ‘SOUR,’ with influences of Lorde, Arctic Monkeys and more


Breakout star Olivia Rodrigo is making her mark with her debut album, “SOUR,” featuring a wide array of genres and bold choices from the rising teen artist.

As Steve Jobs so eloquently put it: “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” Pop has historically been a genre of theft, with most great pop tracks taking inspiration from other genres. Especially in today’s hodge-podge of a music scene, blends of hip hop, rock and indie have all made their way onto the charts, and Rodrigo’s number one album is no exception.

Though on paper she is a product of Disney Channel, Rodrigo is not afraid to make the music she wants. Her influences are diverse, ranging from dream pop to thrashing alternative rock. The styles of singer-songwriter Lorde are most overt: from the verses of “good 4 u” to the bridge of “drivers license,” aspects of Rodrigo’s work leave it sounding like a lost B-side from Lorde’s 2017 album, “Melodrama.”

Rodrigo surprises in the first track, with a string section interrupted by bombastic guitars as she belts lyrics about feeling burned out. And the brooding, melodic “jealousy, jealousy” has a stomping bassline reminiscent of an Arctic Monkeys “AM” song. Her songwriting, however, is the main draw of the album. Lyrically, Rodrigo shines with heartbreaking “enough for you” as a standout track. Here, she not only shows off her vocal prowess, but also her abilities as an actress, selling the song well. Even the slightly generic power ballad “traitor” cleverly showcases her conflicted feelings of betrayal within a relationship.

The singles in “SOUR” cannot be ignored, with the aforementioned “good 4 u” having an angsty sing-along chorus that will certainly be screamed in teenagers’ bedrooms everywhere. “deja vu” features dream-like production to complement its hazy lyrics about ice cream and car rides through Malibu. The low point of the album is “1 step forward and 3 steps back,” with its nursery-esque production making it feel more like an interlude than a complete song. And although it is strong melodically, “happier” includes lyrical cliches that make it a clunky listen.

Ironically, as a self-proclaimed Taylor Swift fan, Rodrigo is currently receiving the same backlash that her idol did a decade ago for supposedly only writing breakup songs. Before arguing this, however, skeptics should first listen to the album’s highlight, “hope ur ok.” The last track of the album, it ends the record by broadening its view and acknowledging a common experience of suffering. The song is notable for its lyrics about unlearning hatred, which are especially resonant in today’s social climate. It is intimate and understated in a way that many of Rodrigo’s other songs are not, which shows her immense maturity at only 18 years old.

Through “SOUR,” Rodrigo has created songs that almost anyone can relate to and empathize with. She is a true 21st century pop star.