Her debut single “Drivers License”, released earlier this year, has over a billion streams. 1,028,176,886 to be precise. And all of that on Spotify. She wrote five of the most heard songs worldwide this summer. How did the immense success of the young woman come about? And who is she anyway?
From Disney girl to world star
It is well known that Disney has a knack for recognizing and promoting young talent. Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, Zendaya or Zac Efron are just a few names in a seemingly endless list. Stars like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling also gained their first experiences at Disney in the 90s TV series “Mickey Mouse Club”.
Now Rodrigo can join this list: Even before “Drivers License” she was by no means completely unknown – especially the younger generation should see her from Disney series such as “Bizaardvark” and “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” Spin-off of the original, be a household name.
She grew up in Murietta, California and received home schooling from her parents after elementary school. She came into contact with showbiz at an early age: at the age of seven she began to play the piano, and when she was twelve she wrote her own songs. She gained her first acting experience in school theater productions until she finally got her first leading role in a children’s film at the age of nine – later she moved with her family to Los Angeles after she got a role in “Bizaardvark”.
“Drivers License” breaks all records
In “Drivers License” she captures all of the confusing feelings that come with lovesickness and heartbreak. “I drove aimlessly through my neighborhood and heard sad music that brought up these emotions,” said Rodrigo Vogue
about how the song came about. Rodrigo had just got her driver’s license at the time – the first big piece of freedom for a young person. “When I got home, I sat down at the piano. I love songs that feel like a journal entry […], so I took the texts from my diary and continued from there. It was a painless process. “
When she released her debut single on January 8th of this year, Rodrigo had no idea how much the song would go through the roof. It reached first place worldwide on Spotify, Apple Music and iTunes and, according to the US music magazine Billboard, was streamed 76.1 million times in the first week alone – the highest total since the publication of Cardi B’s “WAP”. In addition, “Drivers License” topped the Billboard Hot 100, the world’s most important charts, for eight weeks.
The young artist broke some records, and TikTok did the rest to catapult Olivia Rodrigo into the hearts of Gen Z and the rest of the world. “I’ve always had a good feeling with him, but I definitely didn’t expect him to hit the charts like that and break all these records. It’s surreal,” said Rodrigo of her huge success.
Two more singles, “Deja Vu” and “Good 4 U”, were released in April and May, followed by their debut album “Sour” at the end of May. Proof that “Drivers License” was definitely not a one-hit wonder. “Good 4 U” became the next TikTok trend and eleven songs from “Sour” made it into the Billboard Hot 100 again. Rodrigo is the first female artist and the fourth overall to have eleven or more songs in the top 30 (! ) the Hot 100 was able to place.
»The crazy thing is that so many people I’ve looked up to for years reach out to me and become my companions.«
Olivia Rodrigo’s style
Joe Coscarelli of the New York Times
attributes the song’s extreme success to a perfect blend of quality, gossip and marketing. No question about it, Rodrigo is extremely talented. Apart from that, the 18-year-old perfectly matches the current zeitgeist.
Everything, her music videos, her fashion style and also her Instagram feed fit seamlessly into the currently prevailing mega-trend called Y2K, which means “Year 2000”. It’s about reliving the 2000s with modern spin and a touch of 90s nostalgia. The vibe is largely reminiscent of the Paris Hilton era: low waist trousers, sloping patterns, lots of bling and a deliberately trashy way of editing images. Colorful clips or heart earrings become less childlike due to the obligatory lascivious look.
As Rodrigo himself says, the song is peppered with autobiographical elements. He is honest, soulful, and of course an incredible number of people can identify with it. Fans also speculated like crazy about who “Drivers License” is about.
Allegedly it is about her “High School Musical” co-star Joshua Bassett. In the series they become a couple and apparently they should have been more than friends in real life. Rodrigo says only this much: “I completely understand why people are curious about the details of the song, but it doesn’t matter to me who or what the song is about. People jump on the song because he’s so honest, raw and emotional. ” Anyway, the hot discussions on the topic on social media definitely didn’t hurt the popularity of the song or that of Rodrigo.
Meanwhile, many other music stars, including Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez and ex-director Niall Horan, are among her fans. Swift even commented on her on Instagram shortly after the release of “Drivers License”. “I screamed when I saw this! […] She is an absolute genius and it means a lot to me to have her blessing, “she said Vogue.
Selena Gomez also took on the young singer. “I met Selena and she was so nice. She talked to me a lot about mental health, ”Rodrigo tells the Variety.
Gomez has repeatedly struggled with mental health problems in the past. She advised Rodrigo to always put your mental health first.
She is now friends with Billie Eilish. “The crazy thing is that so many people I’ve looked up to for years reach out to me and become companions.”