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Shining a light on Hingham news

The Harborlight

Shining a light on Hingham news

The Harborlight

GUTS by Olivia Rodrigo has over 60 million first-day streams

Promotional+photo+from+GUTS+photoshoot%0ALarissa+Hoffman%2FGeffen+Records
Promotional photo from GUTS photoshoot Larissa Hoffman/Geffen Records

On September 8, 2023 popstar Olivia Rodrigo released her sophomore album titled GUTS which became a massive success overnight. The album had a tough act to follow after her previous album SOUR’s success, and it lived up to the hype.

 

all american b*tch:

The opening track on the album is a perfect introduction to Olivia Rodrigo’s refined soundscape. The song’s chorus “I know my age and I act like it/…I know my place, and this is it” (0:56) encapsulates Rodrigo’s internal struggle with how she places herself in Hollywood. Rodrigo is half-Filipino and has faced much hate throughout her career because of her identity, and all american b*tch pushes back on criticism by turning the phrase “All-American Girl” on its head. Rodrigo’s identity goes against what is considered “all-American” but Rodrigo argues that she has earned everything and more to be seen as one of pop’s most important players right now

This song is one of my personal favorites on the album because of how I relate to its themes. The music industry is still one of the most segregated industries in Hollywood, in which many artists are defined to a genre because of their identity, and Rodrigo is one of the first Asian pop stars to achieve mainstream success. I think her introspection on what the American dream entails through how she needs to portray herself and her brand as “all-American” is perfect and extremely nuanced for such a short song, 2 minutes and 46 seconds.

bad idea right?:

bad idea right? was the second and final single released off of GUTS. The song tells the story of Rodrigo’s affair with someone from her past, with the chorus repeating “Seeing you tonight/It’s a bad idea right?/Whatever it’s fine” (0:38). Fans speculate it is about her co-star and ex boyfriend Joshua Bassett who many of the songs off of her freshmen album SOUR were about. Although Rodrigo has not confirmed or denied, she encourages people to not try to place the songs within the context of her life, but find how they fit into the listener’s life.

As a lead single, bad idea right? is a great pop song that exemplifies the essence of teenage girlhood. Below her commentary on relationship struggles, the song’s self-deprecating lyrics highlight the struggles of fitting in and making meaningful relationships in Hollywood. As the song flips between the disapproving messages of her friends and her deciding to go through with seeing her ex boyfriend anyway, the background vocal repeats the mantra “I cannot hear my thoughts” (0:27). Overall, bad idea right? is a fun pop song about the struggles of finding meaningful relationships as a teen/young adult.

vampire: 

Vampire was the lead single to GUTS, introducing the world to Olivia Rodrigo’s new era. The song is an emotional ballad about her very private relationship with Adam Faze. During their relationship, Rodrigo was 19, while Faze was 26, a concerning age gap relationship that many up and coming Hollywood stars find themselves in. Rodrigo keeps her personal life very private, and vampire was a shocking break from the radio silence fans experienced since her first album. In the chorus, Rodrigo sings “I used to think I was smart/But you made me look so naive/The way you sold me for parts” (0:55), another example of Rodrigo’s self-deprecation. The self-deprecating humor throughout the album ties all of the songs together, as well as highlighting Rodrigo’s own feelings towards her situation: although she is one of the biggest stars in the world right now, she still wants to experience life like any other person her age.

Checking my music stats for the year so far, vampire is my 2nd most listened to song with 67 plays. Safe to say, I love it. I think this song is constructed beautifully, and I think that the lyrics are incredibly insightful. vampire redefined Rodrigo’s more adolescent themes from SOUR, and did not abandon them, but instead repurposed them for the new stage of her life. 

lacy: 

lacy is the jealousy, jealousy of the new album. Lacy follows Rodrigo’s obsession with another girl who is seen as more traditionally pretty, or socially acceptable. Rodrigo describes the subject Lacy as a “dazzling starlet, Bardot reincarnate” (1:11), idolizing her peers as better than. This comparison is exemplified in the final lines when Rodrigo sings “I despise my jealous eyes and how hard it fell for you/Yeah, I despise my rotten mind and how much it worships you” (2:39).

One thing I love about this song is how well it works in tandem with the song jealousy, jealousy from SOUR. Insecurity is probably one of the most prominent feelings of teenagehood, and Rodrigo’s songs encapsulate that feeling so well. The song has a lot of light and dark imagery, bringing up “Lacy” while Rodrigo brings herself down, incorporating the self-deprecating motif within the theme of feeling insecure around one’s peers. 

ballad of a homeschooled girl:

Following lacy, ballad of a homeschooled girl follows the theme of feeling excluded in social circles. Throughout the song, Rodrigo alludes to times in her life where she committed “social suicide” (0:55), but most importantly, Rodrigo argues that she is still young and this embarrassment is inevitable. This song is one of the heavier pop-rock songs, creating a compelling musical composition along with Rodrigo’s vocals.

I love this song because, while the topics are still intense, the self-deprecation is more light-hearted with many easter-eggs for fans to discover. For example, the term “social suicide” from the chorus is in reference to the movie Mean Girls, and Rodrigo mentioned the title is in reference to Bob Dylan’s song Ballad of a Thin Man. ballad of a homeschooled girl is a great track for the middle of the album to keep listeners engaged as well as carry on the themes from the first half to the second half.

making the bed:

“Want it, so I got it, did it, so it’s done” (0:00) is the opening line for, arguably, the most introspective song on the album. making the bed is a direct response to the success Rodrigo experienced after the release of SOUR, but most importantly, how she deals with the worst parts of fame. Rodrigo reflects on her action of “making the bed” in comparison to how she created the life she lives, but she still feels unhappy. Referring to the saying “you made your bed, now you have to lie in it,” Rodrigo grapples with the fact that she has chosen a life where she is not entirely happy, yet has gotten everything she wanted.

This is my personal favorite off of the new album. I think this song shows Rodrigo’s songwriting talent better than her other songs, and the metaphor woven throughout the entire song hits just as hard in the last chorus as the first. making the bed perfectly represents the feeling of hating what you have, but also acknowledging it is exactly where you need to be. Everyone can relate to feeling out of place, no matter what path they have chosen.

logical: 

logical works as a more introspective counterpart to the issues of her past relationship brought up in vampire. On this track, Rodrigo details how her ex manipulated her feelings, and alludes to George Orwell’s 1984 in the chorus by singing “and now you’ve got me thinkin’/two plus two equals five/and I’m the love of your life” (0:55). Through her allusion, Rodrigo builds her ex-boyfriend up as a “master manipulator” who could convince her of anything, but in the end, Rodrigo takes responsibility for the faults of the relationship by stating “I know I’m half responsible/and that makes me feel horrible” (3:30).

Like vampire, logical works as an exposé of the horrible treatment Rodrigo experienced during her relationship with Adam Faze. She mentions how she felt she was used as something to show off. Logical picks up where vampire left off, and I think it is a better, deeper examination of the power dynamics in age-gap relationships, especially with young women in Hollywood that often get taken advantage of. 

get him back!:

Track 9 is a fun, and humorous look into Rodrigo’s conflicting feelings about her ex boyfriend. She uses the phrase “get him back” to insinuate she wants to rekindle the relationship, as well as to insinuate she wants to enact some sort of revenge on her ex boyfriend. The chorus best exemplifies her conflicting desires through juxtaposition when she states “I wanna key his car/I wanna make him lunch/I wanna break his heart/Then be the one to stitch it up” (1:57).

Overall, get him back allows Rodrigo to return to her more self-deprecating depiction of her tumultuous relationships, while highlighting the pain she experienced during these relationships.

love is embarrassing

love is embarrassing is a more lighthearted song about the different awkward Olivia Rodrigo has found herself in while dating. For example, Rodrigo remembers how she “consoled [her ex] while [he] cried/over [his] ex-girlfriend’s new guy” (0:55). Additionally, she asks “how could I be so stupid” (1:00). 

Although it is the shortest track on the album, it packs a powerful punch and fits perfectly into Rodrigo’s pattern of self-deprecation when referring to her failed relationships and social status. 

the grudge:

the grudge is one of the few songs where Rodrigo abandons all self-deprecation in exchange for a brutal examination of her ex-boyfriend’s actions. Speaking directly to him Rodrigo asks “do you think I deserved it all?…you have everything, and you still want more” (2:05).

Similar to vampire and logical, the grudge chronicles manipulation and self doubt; however, different from other songs, Rodrigo does not assume partial responsibility for what occurred. Instead, she admits to herself, and therefore the audience, that she is hurt but that she does not have to be ready to forgive the person that hurt her the most. Unlike other songs on the album, Rodrigo does not seem to be forcing herself to come to any conclusions about herself, but instead allows herself to be unsure of where she belongs.

pretty isn’t pretty:

One of the hardest things about being a teenage girl, is literally everything around you is built to put you down. Rodrigo expresses her insecurities in the second to last track through a meaningful ballad that exemplifies how no change will make her feel better about herself. 

Rodgrio asks “when pretty isn’t pretty enough, what do you do?/And everybody’s keeping up, so you think it’s you” (0:45). A timeless question that has no answer, but a question that every young woman asks themselves.

Junior Caroline Shelsy explained that pretty isn’t pretty is her favorite song off of GUTS because of “how relatable it is listening to it as a teenage girl. I immediately fell in love with it because of the lyrics. I think she does such an incredible job putting her thoughts into songs.” This song especially exemplifies teenage girlhood because there is nothing more formative to one’s memories and development than the judgment of others.

teenage dream:

teenage dream is a perfect closer for a perfect album. The song is littered with rhetorical questions and self-doubt as Rodrigo tries to highlight the uncertainty she feels within her own life and career. Most importantly, the song ends with the repetition of the lines “they all say that it gets better/it gets better, but what if I don’t?” (2:11). Rodrigo is still becoming someone, but now more than ever she must decide who she wants to present herself as, and she has decided that version of herself is authentic. teenage dream is Rodrigo telling her listeners that it is okay to not know, and that it is okay to not live up to people’s expectations of you because you’re living for yourself.

I think this song has beautifully eerie instrumentals that make Rodrigo’s question more pressing, adding to the atmosphere of the album as a whole. This was the perfect closing track because it gives Rodrigo the room to change and mold into the performer she wants to be later in life.

Senior Megan Doyle put it best, GUTS “definitely didn’t disappoint… it has a more punk-meets-pop sound than Sour (though I loved Sour too). There’s so many unexpected twists.” GUTS is a perfect amalgamation of self-deprecation and introspection. For a sophomore album, Rodrigo has only confirmed she is a powerful songwriter, vocalist, and performer, and only time will show all the successes she will find.

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