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The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

“GUTS” Reaction: Olivia Rodrigo’s Stellar Sophomore Album

AP Photo/Charles Sykes

At only 20 years old, Olivia Rodrigo is the latest of the pop star princesses. Her second album, titled “GUTS,” was released at midnight local time on Sept. 8. “GUTS” earned high critical acclaim from Rolling Stone (who called the album “an instant classic”) and others. The album is 40 minutes and includes twelve tracks, from piano ballads like “vampire” to upbeat drum kicks like “get him back!”.

Fans like first-year Martyn Dahl feared that nothing could live up to the triumph that was “SOUR,” Rodrigo’s debut album. However, Rodrigo is constantly proving herself to be more than a one-hit-wonder as she releases song after sensational song.

“I think this is a very impressive sophomore album,” Dahl said. “Because of how big her first album is, I think ‘GUTS’ has met – if not exceeded – expectations. Her abilities have expanded, and it feels more like her own project than the last album.” 

First-year Grace Zhang is a fan of both of Rodrigo’s albums.

“What makes her songs so captivating is that her lyrics are very relatable, and every song tells a story,” Zhang said. “Her music style and instrumentals are very trendy. I think, right now, that edgy alt-rock sound is trending, so that’s why her songs are so popular. She’s ‘that girl.’ Ten out of ten.”

“GUTS” is a picture-perfect teenage anthem of an album, with the duality of girlhood stitched into every song. The album is a formula: powerful vocal performances paired with honest songwriting and remarkable production. The result is magical. 

The opening track, “all-american bitch,” sets the tone for the album, flaunting a spunky sound that fluctuates between delicate and furious. The song is satirical yet serious, silently mocking oppressive stereotypes of women. The contrasting sounds of the verses and choruses allow Rodrigo to channel feminine rage without breaking the lyrical façade of a demure woman.

Several other songs capture this angsty critique of society, including “ballad of a homeschooled girl,” “pretty isn’t pretty” and “teenage dream” — the passionate closing track of “GUTS.” Here, Rodrigo addresses both the praise and hatred directed at her for her fame, which is undeniably characterized by her youth. The track illustrates the desperation for adolescence and resignation to the future, as Rodrigo apologizes: “I’m sorry that I couldn’t always be your teenage dream.” The mantra repeated at the end, in which Rodrigo sings, “They all say that it gets better / but what if I don’t?” is the most perfectly devastating production on the album. It leaves the listener feeling shocked and shattered, moved by the complex fears of a teenage girl. 

Then, on the other hand, are the breakup songs, which break out of the mold. “get him back!” is a personal favorite, with its irresistible beat and double entendre: in this bop, Rodrigo both wants to get the boy back and get revenge. Rodrigo’s merciless mocking of an ex is humorous in its absurdity, as she sings, “I wanna meet his mom / just to tell her her son sucks.” This track is magnetically fun and endlessly witty. 

No one can talk about “GUTS” without mentioning the first single from the album. In all of its record breaking glory, “vampire” is the perfect innovative breakup song. Self-deprecation balanced with bitterness shows that Rodrigo has both regret and revenge on her mind. Clearly, Rodrigo has found the key to a show-stopping hit: just like with “driver’s license,” the poignant bridge brings the whole song together, perfectly complimenting the ingenious chorus. Overall, Rodrigo writes and sings from the heart, entrancing listeners with genuine, diverse music.

Olivia Rodrigo is a major figure in music today, and her overwhelming presence can often lead to public scrutiny from listeners such as first-year Kade Santo.

“Honestly, I think she’s not that good. She’s a Taylor Swift dupe,” Santo said.

These sorts of disapprovals are common online. Whether they have justification remains up for debate. There are certainly criticisms to be made of her music, but some feel that Rodrigo is attacked as a result of sexism. 

“People compare Olivia to other people, like Taylor Swift, or any other young artist coming up, but she’s very much her own,” Dahl said. “She’s representing a different group. She’s had a similar rise to fame as other stars: Disney actor, singer, now she’s a singer-songwriter, now she’s a pop star. She’s still on the rise, but she’s grounded. I feel like she’s a good influence on girls.”

Regardless, Rodrigo is a growing human being, and as she finds herself, she will continue to grow as a musician. 

“I think she’s really talented for such a young artist. She seems to be having fun,” Santo conceded.

“SOUR” was a sensation, but with “GUTS,” Olivia Rodrigo has proved that she is here to stay — Rodrigo has recently announced a world tour for the upcoming year, in which she will perform in North America and Europe. Rodrigo’s most recent album showcases her talent and potential to become one of the greatest songwriters of the century. 

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