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‘SOUR’: A Review of Olivia Rodrigo’s Debut Album

Photo courtesy of Geffen Records and Ellen Von Unwerth.

Teen pop phenomenon Olivia Rodrigo released her debut album SOUR on May 21, 2021. The album includes 11 tracks. It was recorded in isolation during the COVID-19 lockdown. The album was originally supposed to be released as an EP but after the viral success of Drivers License, the singer decided to create a full-length album. SOUR is primarily a pop and alt-pop record that spans from energetic pop punk to bedroom pop ballads. The title for the album refers to the “sour” emotions young people feel such as anger, jealousy, and unhappiness. The debut album received critical acclaim upon its release. Critics praised Rodrigo’s artistry, honest lyrics, and its appeal to Generation Z.

Track 1: Brutal

Brutal is the first track on the album. It’s described as “angsty” and “uptempo” by Rodrigo. She couldn’t be anymore accurate. The song gets you pumped and was a record that fans definitely weren’t expecting. The song was written two weeks before the singer needed to turn in the album. Brutal is a song that many fans can relate to because most of them are teenagers and young adults. The indie rock elements of the song make it a fun listen and it’s a great song to open the album.

Number of Spotify streams: 124.9 million+

Rating: ★★★★

Track 2: Traitor

Traitor is the second track on the album. The story of the song follows Rodrigo trying to get over her ex and he moves on with another girl. It consists of post-anger and bargaining. The song is said to have Rodrigo’s best vocal performance. It’s a indie pop ballad with folk undertones. Fans went crazy for this song with many of them relating to the story.

Number of Spotify streams: 173.4 million+

Rating: ★★★★½

Track 3: Drivers License

Drivers License is the third track on the album. The song was Rodrigo’s first single and became an overnight sensation. The bedroom pop ballad features Rodrigo hitting notes that I never could. It’s an amazing song but has become overplayed since most radio stations have played it repeatedly and it was all over TikTok.

Number of Spotify streams: 919.7 million+

Rating: ★★★½

Track 4: 1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back

1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back is the fourth track on the album. It uses a portion of the melody from Taylor Swift’s song New Years Eve. The song is another bedroom pop ballad but is a delicate interpretation of a toxic and manipulative relationship. The chirping birds that appear in the beginning of the song were record by Rodrigo’s producer and co-writer, Dan Nigro.

Number of Spotify streams: 89.8 million+

Rating: ★★★★

Track 5: Deja Vu

Deja Vu is the fifth track on the album is This song was Rodrigo’s second single. It’s a psychedelic pop and art pop song that tells the story of Rodrigo questioning a former lover who is pursuing a different relationship about his déjà vu when he behaves with his new love interest in the same way as he did in his relationship with Rodrigo. The catchy melody and unique lyrics serve as not only a great single but also one of the best tracks on the album.

Number of Spotify streams: 387.1 million+

Rating: ★★★★★

Track 6: Good 4 U

Good 4 U is the sixth track on the album.This song was Rodrigo’s third single. It’s a blend of pop, punk, rock, grunge, and emo set to the sounds of electric guitar and drums. It’s similar to the vibes of Brutal but very different. The song addresses a former lover who moves on too quickly. Like Deja Vu, it’s one of the best tracks on the album because of its infectious melody and intense lyrics.

Number of Spotify streams: 505.7 million+

Rating: ★★★★½

Track 7: Enough For You

Enough For You is the seventh track on the album. It’s a simple and minimal bedroom pop ballad with intense lyrics and acoustic instrumentals. It can be describe as insecure, vulnerable, and hopeful.

Number of Spotify streams: 102.1 million+

Rating: ★★★★

Track 8: Happier

Happier is the eighth track on the album. It admits selfishness and exudes self-criticism. The song features a piano-led melody. Every time I listen to this song, I tear up. It’s so deep and emotionally beautiful. One of the best tracks on the album.

Number of Spotify streams: 153.7 million+

Rating: ★★★★★

Track 9: Jealousy, Jealousy

Jealousy, Jealousy is the ninth track on the album. The lyrics tell the story of the toxicity that exists within social media and its addictiveness. The alternative rock and pop song is a reflective look into the reality that comes along with social media. At first I wasn’t a huge fan of the song but the more I listened to it, the more I liked it.

Number of Spotify streams: 106.5 million+

Rating: ★★★★

Track 10: Favorite Crime

Favorite Crime is the tenth track on the album. The stripped-down track is an indie-pop and folk influenced ballad that incorporates harmonies. It tells the story of “the examination of glaring red flags that only appear in their true colors through the lens of hindsight”. This is my favorite song on the entire album. The song is innovative and has an infectious melody for being a slow song.

Number of Spotify streams: 142.3 million+

Rating: ★★★★★

Track 11: Hope Ur Ok

Hope Ur Ok is the eleventh and final track on the album. The song is a love letter to the singer’s friends. It’s much different than the rest of the songs on the album as it refers to the thoughts and emotions of other people rather than Rodrigo’s own thoughts and emotions. The bridge is stunning, “Address the letters to the holes in my butterfly wings…” It was a beautiful way to close out the album.

Number of Spotify streams: 72.8 million+

Rating: ★★★★★

SOUR: A Review on the Album

It’s very rare for me to fall in love with an entire album. Usually I have certain songs that I absolutely love and others that I don’t particularly like. In this case, I fell in love with the entire album. Every song is distinct, lyrically beautiful, and innovative. Rodrigo definitely paved her way as the future of the pop music industry. My top five are: Favorite Crime, Happier, Hope Ur Ok, Deja Vu, and Good 4 U. A debut that has definitely hit one for the record books. I’m excited to see what she has planned for us next.

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