By: Kara M. (’21)
If you’ve been anywhere on the Internet lately, you’ve probably heard of the viral song “drivers license” by Olivia Rodrigo. And if you’re really tuned in, you know about the drama-filled, rumor-fueled story behind her hit single. Fans take “drivers license” to be about Joshua Bassett, Rodrigo’s TV show castmate and ex-boyfriend, and his new girlfriend Sabrina Carpenter. Bassett released his own single “Lie Lie Lie” just after “drivers license.” And Carpenter, Basset’s apparent girlfriend, released “Skin” just two weeks later. Driven by the rumored relationships and gossip behind the songs, the three interconnected musical portraits have dominated the young music scene and offer an intimate look into young, messy love.
“drivers license”: 5/5
A car door opens, the beeping of an open door signal begins, and the insistent piano chords start. “drivers license” tells a story of regret and resignation, a story of young love that didn’t work out as hoped. Rodrigo weaves floating vocals and grounded sounds all into one coherent track. The bridge is particularly artful, with angelic vocals reminiscing about the past. Maybe “drivers license” is so likeable because of its relatability. Listeners can simultaneously feel Rodrigo’s pain while also being reminded of their own heartbreaks. With simple yet evocative lyrics and an emotion-tinged voice, the huge success of “drivers license” is both well-earned and well-deserved.
“Lie Lie Lie”: 3/5
If “Lie Lie Lie” is really directed at Olivia Rodrigo as fans speculate, it takes on a much more forceful edge than “drivers license.” Bassett’s single combines acoustic guitar with a fast-paced tempo, creating an abrasive sound that contrasts Bassett’s post-breakup mindset from Rodrigo’s. Vocally, Bassett shows off some riffs and an impressive range. Lyrically, however, the song becomes more repetitive than anything else. While I did enjoy listening to “Lie Lie Lie,” the aggressive, slightly arrogant tone deters me from enjoying the song fully.
Out of all the songs, Sabrina Carpenter’s “Skin” most directly connects to the real-life events around these three singers, as reflected in her lyrics. She uses a similar rhyme scheme and similar phrasing to “Lie Lie Lie,” signifying where Carpenter’s loyalties lie in the drama. In the song, Carpenter accuses someone of just trying to get under her skin, and apparently defies haters. However, “Skin” is no more than a diss track thinly disguised as a power anthem. But the vocals and melody are too dainty and feathery to pack any emotional punch. Further, without the rumors and gossip surrounding “Skin,” this same-old pop song would have barely made a dent in the music industry.