A Cathartic Pop Ballad: “Drivers License” Review

  • January 26, 2021

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The people of the internet have deemed Olivia Rodrigo to be the next Taylor Swift.

The 17-year old High School Musical:  The Musical:  The Series star and singer-songwriter has been in the spotlight since she began acting at a young age.  However, her recent rise in fame can be accredited to her latest single, “Drivers License.”

“Drivers License” is currently the number one song on Billboard Hot 100.  Additionally, the pop song has remained at number one on Spotify’s Top 200 Chart since January 10, and it holds the record for the most Spotify streams in a day for a non-holiday song at 17.01 million global streams on January 12.  It has also been making the rounds throughout social media;  you can’t go an hour on TikTok without hearing Rodrigo’s wistfully sweet voice.

Though at times overly angsty, the sentiment of the tune is quite relatable.  While driving, Rodrigo laments over losing the one to “that blonde girl who always made me doubt.”  She focuses on her own experience with loneliness, envy, and broken promises rather than taking it out on her ex, which encourages the listener to sympathize with her more as well.

The ballad in itself is simple, as the majority of the song only contains piano and some percussion to round out Rodrigo’s voice.  This starkness adds to its melancholic tone.  Its quiet beginning is also misleading.  Rodrigo slowly sheds her meekness as the song builds to its climactic ending, where pure passion takes over as she is haunted by the memory of her former lover while she drives alone past his street.

The intense pain and vulnerability of “Drivers License” serves as a form of catharsis for both the listener and the singer.  Anyone who has experienced heartbreak will immediately identify with the song. 

Overall, “Drivers License”’s facade as a basic bedroom pop song gives way to deeper and more emotional tones that validate a listen.

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