Why “Drivers License” by Olivia Rodrigo did so well

17 year old Olivia Rodrigo blew the world away with her debut song “Drivers License”. The song accumulated over 76 million streams in the first week according to Billboard, and hit number one in 48 countries on Apple Music and 31 countries on Spotify. The song released on Friday, Jan. 8 and on that upcoming Monday broke the record for most streams in a day for a non-holiday song with 15 million. Rodrigo’s song would go on to beat its own record the next day with over 17 million streams. The lyrics of “Drivers License” also caught fans attention of Rodrigo’s past. About two years ago Rodrigo was casted in High School Musical: The Musical to play Nina. In the series Rodrigo’s character Nina is in a romance with fellow high schooler Ricky played by Joshua Bassett. In the show the chemistry between the two was so good that fans started interpreting the fictional romance into a real one. With no real answer it is assumed that Bassett and Rodrigo were in a private relationship due the fact of Rodrigo still being 16 and Bassett, 18. Bassett also a singer and songwriter came out with a song called “Anyone Else” with fans believing it was about Rodrigo. It was later seen in the music video to be about a blonde girl, with lyrics and visuals showing the possibility of the song being about fellow actor and singer Sabrina Carpenter. Bassett and Carpenter although haven't disclosed a public relationship but they have been seen many times together over the past months. This situation led many people to believe that Rodrigo wrote her song “Drivers License” about Bassett. The lines in the song that say “And you’re probably with that blonde girl”, and “she’s so much older than me” led fans to believe it was about Carpenter who is both blonde and older than Rodrigo. Although both Bassett and Rodrigo have stated that their songs aren’t about each other.

Rodrigo’s song “Drivers License” has now accumulated over 250 million total streams (Photo Courtesy: officialcharts.com)

The reason the song did and is still doing so well is because of the way Rodrigo as well as Daniel Nigro wrote and harmonized her voice with the melody. According to producer Blake McLain who reacted to the song on Youtube, the song was formatted in the most perfect way. The way the song builds tension at the start and explodes, then goes back down and builds that tension again. Right when the listener thinks that second round of tension is going back down, she hits them with a powerful and loud second chorus. The intelligence of the songwriting is what keeps the listener so engaged and focused on the words that she is expressing. The song was so well produced that I have heard grown men say that this song made them feel like a twenty year old girl who just went through heartbreak. The song's popularity also has to do with the reactions of fans on social media, and we all know in today's world that social media has a giant influence on how popular things become. With Tik Tok being such a big populated platform, some artists will release their song with the hopes of it going viral on Tik Tok. In this case Rodrigo succeeded as her song has been used in over two million Tik Tok’s. It also helps when you have a bit of drama within the situation as people love to see the way drama unfolds. Before our very eyes we have seen a brilliant singer and songwriter pop onto the scene and there is no doubt in many people's mind that we will be seeing Oliva on top once again in the future.


Caden Eatherton '21