Suddenly it all came back to mind: teenage dreams, heartbreak, college jackets, heavy petting, cars, high school and music videos on MTV. Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album »Sour« was a sensation because it captured the zeitgeist of 2021 and really resonated with everyone from Gen Z’ers to Boomers. For kids, »Sour« was the perfect modern coming-of-age album that created a sense of identity. For adults, on the other hand, it was a huge projection screen for their nostalgia.
Everything resounded here. The good old days, youth – a bevy of feelings, simply put. At the same time with the romantic feeling that everything was simpler back then. And this mixture parachuted into 2021, right into the pandemic. Let us set the scene: there were no good romcoms around anymore, everyone on social media was talking about Hot Girl Summer and healing and self-care and toxic this and that, memes were making fun of everything, and along came Rodrigo with this truckload of »old« emotions, and we were all at their mercy because no one was expressing them in public anymore. A revelation. Plus top notch pop music. And a product that was tailor-made for the here and now: a Disney princess saying »fuck«.
»Barbie« is in 2023 what »Sour« was two years ago. Now the successor. And for the artist, now 20, the problem she faces after such a mega-breakthrough is »how do I top that shit?«. She solves it like Eminem did back in the day. The success of »My Name Is« threatened to overwhelm and completely inhibit him creatively. The solution was anger, resulting in »The Way I Am«. »Guts«, of course, is not quite as radical in its approach. But it is still fiercer, much edgier than its predecessor. With the intro, Olivia Rodrigo immediately launches into an update of the Meredith Brooks classic »Bitch«; it can also be read as her personal »The Way I Am«, in which Rodrigo sets herself apart from various expectations – her own, societal, economic – of what a young female pop star should be.
On the surface, the music initially sounds a lot like teenage punk in the vein of Blink-182, Wheatus and Avril Lavigne. But what happens underneath in terms of song writing is on a whole different level: double bottoms, merciless (self-)reflection, distance, humour. Rodrigo is well on her way to becoming the next superstar on the scale of Taylor Swift or Harry Styles.