The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Column | Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘GUTS’ wears pop-punk well despite mixed reactions

Photo courtesy of Genius
On Sept. 8, Olivia Rodrigo released her newest album “GUTS.”

On Friday, Olivia Rodrigo’s sophomore album “GUTS” was released to mixed reviews and online discourse. 

Rodrigo is known for her heartbroken pop ballads, such as her hit single “drivers license,” but has made electronic tracks such as “brutal” on her debut album that were indicative of her new genre shift. 

“GUTS” leans into pop-punk, showing off her impressive vocals on tracks like “all-american bitch,” “bad idea right?,” “ballad of a homeschooled girl,” “love is embarrassing” and, best of all, “get him back!.”

This new foray has some X — formerly Twitter — users yearning for Rodrigo to backtrack.

One user, @WESTSlDEEEE, said “I hate to be the bearer of bad news but SOUR is way better than GUTS and im completely serious.”

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    Another user, @adiboutilier, said “and the most childish album of 2023 goes to.. (image of “GUTS” album cover).”

    Still, many are excited by Rodrigo’s new Paramore-esque sound and are defending her online.

    User @HighWhiteHorse said “Oh no. A 19 year old wrote about being a teenager in her teens? It’s an outrage.”

    User @imifaes said “realistically the olivia rodrigo hate goes back to one thing — she’s popular with teenage girls and theres little ppl hate more than women and girls.”

    As a young artist — only 20 years old — Rodrigo is beginning to play into her strengths with rhythmic lyricism, and a voice with the tenacity of Hayley Williams. Her newer cynical side strikes chords with Gen Z and Gen X while invoking the nostalgia of the 2000s and ’90s. She and Dan Nigro, who worked with Rodrigo on “SOUR,” incite an exhilarating tone with their production. Pop-rock is where Rodrigo shines.

    On the stand-out track, “get him back!”, she comes in quick with a pulsing voice and a steady bass line.

    The resolution is similar to “Get Him Back” by Fiona Apple, mixing and matching the two meanings of the titular phrase: making up with her ex and getting revenge on him.

    The slow wallowing songs she’s known best for are where her cleverness seems lacking. “lacy,” a song in the same vein as “Jolene” by Dolly Parton, begins with an awkward line “Lacy, oh, Lacy, skin like puff pastry.” The same track, which Rodrigo mentioned she is most proud of on a TikTok live, is suspected to have queer undertones by social media users.

    User @idwlflor said “‘lacy is about blurring the line between jealousy and homoeroticism which IS sapphic because no straight girl has ever gone ‘do i want to be her or be with her.’”

    Rodrigo has always been under scrutiny since her early years as a child star, but it’s clear her art is growing. Pop is an ever-growing elastic genre. As Olivia Rodrigo continues to rule the charts as a pop princess, we might as well make way for her new sound.


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