Remember how everyone was obsessed with Regina George in “Mean Girls”? That’s me, except I’m obsessed with Olivia Rodrigo. If I saw Olivia Rodrigo wearing army pants and flip-flops, I would buy army pants and flip-flops. But I have a confession to make: I’m 27 years old.
But I’m not the only Millennial obsessing over Olivia Rodrigo’s new album, SOUR, as there are plenty of reasons why Millennials love her.
Heartbreak Is a Universal Language
SOUR is essentially a breakup album, and it’s brutally honest and relatable. The first single, “driver’s license,” became an overnight hit because it accurately captured all of the intense emotions we all went through during our first heartbreak (or really any heartbreak as a teenager). The song is so relatable that it can make you tear up, as music therapist and researcher Dr. Sandi Curtis says, "The message of the lyrics and the impact of the music itself (melody and harmony of the chords) are powerful, but in combination they are incredibly compelling. Together, they evoke a strong response from us that is emotional, physical, and psychological all at the same time."
Heartbreak is a universal language — it doesn’t exclude anyone. Regardless of your nationality, race, gender, class, or age, we’re all likely to experience heartbreak in our lives. So if you’re looking for songs to help you process heartache, the majority of the songs on SOUR are heartbreak anthems. Some are angry and cathartic (“good 4 you”), some will make you want to cry your eyes out (“1 step forward, 3 steps back”), and some are so honest and relatable (“enough for you”) that you can’t help but wonder if Rodrigo found your high school diary.
Millennials Love Nostalgia
SOUR is making many Millennials (myself and most of my friends included) nostalgic for the 2000s and their teenage years. Emma Spector of Vogue is one of them, as she writes, “It could be that I’m reliving my teen years or that Rodrigo just has a unique ability to sing about her life in a way that resonates with people who spend a lot of time googling knee pain. But either way, I can’t remember the last time I felt as free as I did when I blasted ‘good 4 u’ with my car windows down, driving from eastern Massachusetts to Maine with the wind in my hair and the remains of a mall-purchased Auntie Anne’s pretzel next to me in the passenger seat. Do I need to grow up? Maybe, but with albums like SOUR out there, who would want to?”
Spector has a point, especially when it comes to Rodrigo’s song “good 4 u,” which has quickly become a favorite among Millennial listeners due to its 2000s inspired pop-punk sound as well as the references to 2000s teen horror movie Jennifer’s Body in the music video. The pop-punk sound is also featured in the opening track “brutal.”
Part of Rodrigo’s success may be due to many Millennials longing for simpler times (a.k.a. high school and the 2000s) during the unprecedented stress of the COVID-19 pandemic. We all know that nostalgia can be powerful, and it can be used as a comforting tool during a time of distress. With the pandemic coming to an end, it just makes sense that we still feel nostalgic for simpler times after a year of stress and uncertainty. It also helps that many of the tweets and memes that came from Millennials relating to SOUR are hilarious.
Her Style Echoes Artists Like Taylor Swift and Paramore
One of the first things fans noticed about Olivia Rodrigo’s music is it’s similarity to Taylor Swift’s style. Music editor Courtney Larocca writes, "There is a widespread appeal to the kaleidoscopic sentiments Rodrigo navigates. Don't ever underestimate an 18-year-old girl with a broken heart, a guitar, and a deep understanding of Swift's discography. She'll sing you to tears."
It’s no surprise that Rodrigo is a Taylor Swift fan, for she cites her as one of her greatest influences and featured Swift’s song “New Years Day” in her song “1 step forward, 3 steps back,” even giving Swift a writing credit on her album. The two have interacted on social media and finally met in person at the BRIT Awards in May.
The track “good 4 u” has been compared to Paramore’s 2007 song “Misery Business,” and musician Adam Wright posted a mashup of the two songs to YouTube. Spoiler alert: it’s magnificent and sounds like a duet.
Many Millennials grew up listening to Taylor Swift’s earlier music and the rise of pop-punk artists like Paramore in the 2000s, so it only makes sense that we’re all loving a new artist who is inspired by the two.
We’re all suckers for nostalgia and heartbreak anthems, making Olivia Rodrigo’s album SOUR the perfect album to jam to this summer. Rodrigo’s use of universal themes like heartbreak and early 2000s style has made her a hit among Millennials, and we can’t wait to see what she does next.
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