As someone who just got their own driver’s license last week, it was hard to ignore a musical debut titled “drivers license” from Disney darling Olivia Rodrigo. And I was not the only one; the song amassed over 15 million Spotify streams within a week of its release. The very next day, “drivers license” beat its own streaming record with 17 million streams. As of February 8, seventeen-year-old Olivia Rodrigo’s debut song holds over 284 million Spotify streams less than a month after its initial release. But do not let the popularity of the song distract from the quality of its composition.
The song’s popularity could be attributed to being featured in 2 million TikToks (and counting!) or maybe to the multitude of celebrities who also adore the song. Furthermore, I could go into extensive detail about the Internet’s countless theories surrounding Rodrigo’s personal life and rumored love triangle—but the song’s success arises from more than Rodrigo’s relationship drama.
At first glance, “drivers license” is different from Rodrigo’s first attempt at songwriting in 2019: the simple, radio-friendly “All I Want” from High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. “drivers license” shows another side of Rodrigo––a more mature version. Rodrigo’s song touches on themes including the importance of timing and life’s transience. “driver’s license” is an example of how tearful diary entries can be translated into a heartfelt anthem for unrequited love.
From start to finish, I could not stop soaking in the song’s pure genius. The rhymes are all simple, conversational words, making the lyrics more relatable and impactful. The musical influence of Taylor Swift and Lorde can be heard in the glorious bridge that keeps you listening. Like its title, the song’s lyrics follow the theme of driving, painting a vivid image of someone thinking aloud to herself in the driver’s seat.
Rodrigo beautifully blends the newfound freedom of having one’s driver’s license and the startling devastation of unreciprocated feelings, all in one sensational harmony. The song’s strengths are its painfully nostalgic atmosphere and brutal honesty. It resonates with anyone who has ever yearned for someone only to be left heartbroken. “drivers license” evokes personal snapshots of destinationless drives anywhere and everywhere, painting an accurate depiction of adolescence.
“drivers license” is 4 minutes and 2 seconds of unadulterated relatability––and thank goodness I finally have my driver’s license so that I can now appreciate the song in its entirety.
Kailey Sjauwfoekloy is a freshman studying Government in the College.