Olivia Rodrigo releases devastatingly relatable album GUTS

Olivia Rodrigo’s GUTS album cover released June 26, 2023. Final album released September 8, 2023.
Olivia Rodrigo’s GUTS album cover released June 26, 2023. Final album released September 8, 2023.
By courtesy of Olivia Rodrigo/Geffen Records/Interscope Records

20-year-old popstar Olivia Rodrigo finally released her long-awaited sophomore album GUTS September 8, 12:00 a.m. EST, garnering immense support from her fanbase of self-proclaimed “Livies”. 

However, the release didn’t have the same degree of initial success as her first album, Sour, released May 2021. Many listeners reported negative first impressions, though they dissipated after giving the album a second chance. This change of heart has skyrocketed Rodrigo’s album to debut at the top spot on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, as the first female artist in nine years to have two albums start atop the chart since Ariana Grande with Yours Truly and My Everything released in 2013 and 2014.

Rodrigo’s latest release boasts twelve tracks, ten new to the public. Before the final album, she dropped two EPs that set the anticipated tone with angsty lyrics and a moody vibe. Unlike melancholic Sour, Rodrigo took on angrier rock-and-roll energy for GUTS. While she created Sour during her peak heartbreak stage, GUTS is a tribute to the reality check that hits you the second you’re over someone. 

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Rodrigo emphasized her growing pains while writing GUTS. 

“This album encapsulates growing up and figuring yourself out in the world, and the awkwardness of that,” Rodrigo said.

Alternative to Sour, GUTS has appealed more to women in their 20s than teens. Because of Rodrigo’s age difference between the release of her freshman and sophomore albums, her target audience has somewhat shifted. The adjustment has caused younger audiences to feel  out of the loop, and a sense of adoration for an album that finally speaks to those in their 20s.

Twitter user @gwenbrina perfectly encapsulated the feeling many young women are experiencing during their “GUTS Era.” 

“GUTS by Olivia Rodrigo is the most devastatingly beautiful album written specifically for teenage girls in their twenties,” @gwenbrina tweeted.

Throughout the album, fans have consistently praised Rodrigo’s relatability through her songs, specifically in “get him back!” and “pretty isn’t pretty.” The former depicts the feeling of wanting someone back while simultaneously coveting revenge against them, and the latter battles with self-hate in an era of exceptionally high beauty standards. Though most fans love the two songs, others dislike them, not because of hatred towards the lyrics, but simply because they aren’t Rodrigo’s best-produced music. 

Some argue that, particularly in “back idea right?,” Rodrigo gets overly aggressive with the early 2000s shtick, which, while entertaining at times, quickly becomes repetitive because it was already around for over twenty years before she tried it. 

Alternatively, songs such as “teenage dream,” “logical,” “making the bed,” “the grudge,” and “lacy,” while not as popular, are all more beautifully created and better highlight Rodrigo’s core. These four masterpieces take the spots of some of the best works that Rodrigo has produced in her newest album. With haunting lyrics and gorgeous choruses, many fans have taken a liking to Rodrigo’s more emotional tracks. 

Underrated song “teenage dream” has a breathtaking ending and will be a showstopper at Rodrigo’s world tour in the spring and summer of 2024, and devastating “making the bed” is, simply put, life-changing. Both “logical” and “the grudge” are heartbreaking as well, sure to complete the jaw-dropping quartet once performed live. 

Highlights of the lyrics include, “The sky is green, the grass is red, and you mean all those words you said. I’m sure that girl is your friend,” (from “logical”), ​​ I’m playin’ the victim so well in my head, but it’s me who’s been makin’ the bed,” (from “making the bed”), and “People are people but it’s like you’re made of angel dust,” (from “lacy”).

Many fans have begun to speculate that Rodrigo wrote “lacy,” her lovesick fourth track, about her former rival, Sabrina Carpenter. With lines like “Bardot reincarnate,” (Carpenter has been compared to the likes of 60s actress and model Brigitte Bardot and recreated several of her photoshoots) and “I despise my jealous eyes and how they fell for you,” (Rodrigo expressed feelings of envy towards a “blonde girl” in her breakout single, Drivers License) conspiracists paint a convincing picture. While seemingly unlikely at first, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the novelty of the stars’ potential romance. 

However, when asked about her songs’ meanings, Rodrigo simply leaves it up to the listener. 

“I write diaristic songs, so of course everyone’s going to have their own interpretation of it… It’s not my job to interpret them for other people,” Rodrigo said to Rolling Stone magazine. 

Critiques aside, GUTS is masterful and a brilliant example of Rodrigo’s talent as a singer-songwriter. While there is work to be done with her personal style, her new album is extremely promising. She proved herself to not be a one-hit-wonder and that she can reach the level of the greats. With its sharp originality, beautiful melodies, and screamable lyrics, Rodrigo’s album receives 4.5/5 feathers. 

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