By Charlie Snyder
Olivia Rodrigo’s debut single drivers license has put her in the fast lane to stardom.
On Jan. 8, Olivia Rodrigo, best known for her role as Nini Salazar-Roberts in the Disney+ series High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, released her debut studio single, drivers license, via Geffen Records.
To say that the track has been a massive success would be an understatement, as the song recently hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and garnered over 65 million streams via Spotify alone in its opening week, setting the all-time record for opening week streams. Additionally, on Jan. 11, the song set the Spotify record for most streams in one day for a non-holiday song and trumped itself the following day. Adding a cherry on top of this commercial success was a co-sign from the pop/country icon herself, Taylor Swift.
With several records broken, it is clear that Rodrigo has what it takes to make a hit, but what is it about drivers license in particular that has made the song so successful? The answer lies within the song’s backstory, lyrics and Rodrigo’s chilling vocal performance.
As previously mentioned, Rodrigo stars in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series alongside Joshua Bassett, who plays Richard Bowen. The show portrays the two as high schoolers in love, which has led to speculation as to whether or not the duo’s chemistry on camera has ever perpetuated offset. Although these conjectures alone do not definitively connect Rodrigo and Bassett, fans have been quick to point out damning similarities between the two’s personal relationship and the lyrics to drivers license, only further supporting the song’s appeal.
Interestingly, in a resurfaced interview with LeBlanc Updates on YouTube, Rodrigo tells audiences that during her time on set, Bassett would often drive with her and help her practice, as she had not yet gotten her learner’s permit. Although this topic might seem irrelevant at first glance, the first lines in her song created major fan theories as it refers to this specific interview, “I got my driver’s license last week/ just like we always talked about.”
The parallels do not stop here, as Rodrigo continues to sing throughout the second verse, “And you’re probably with that blonde girl/ who always made me doubt/ she’s so much older than me/ she’s everything I’m insecure about.” These lines seem to reference the rumored relationship between Bassett and actress/singer-songwriter Sabrina Carpenter, who not only has blonde hair but is also four years older than Rodrigo. In addition, prior to the song’s release and Carpenter’s rumored relationship with Bassett, it was noted that Rodrigo had originally sung “you’re probably with that brunette girl,” as opposed to blonde, stirring up the idea that the lyrics were changed once things became more serious and/or obvious between Carpenter and Bassett.
Of course, all this can simply be dismissed as a publicity stunt to promote interest in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, but the raw emotion displayed in Rodrigo’s performance shows that there is more to this song than just what is seen on paper.
Over the course of just over four minutes, Rodrigo paints a picture for listeners to depict within their own minds. The simple yet atmospheric production of the dramatic melodic transitions between verses can be compared to that of a musical representation of the highs and lows of a relationship, only further supporting the song’s incredible ability to touch listeners on a personal level. Even if you have not endured any recent heartbreak, drivers license is sure to spark some sort of emotion amongst those who take the time to hear it.
Evidently, Rodrigo has touched the hearts of many, setting records and gaining the support of millions in the process. Consequently, if Rodrigo’s first single is any indication of the career that she will most likely (and definitely should) pursue in the music industry, then it will not be long before this release is cited as the birth of a superstar.