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Olivia Rodrigo Spills Her GUTS in New Album

A review of Olivia Rodrigo’s sophomore album.
Olivia Rodrigo lays against a purple background for the cover art of her second album, GUTS. / Larissa Hoffman
Olivia Rodrigo lays against a purple background for the cover art of her second album, GUTS. / Larissa Hoffman

Released on September 8, Olivia Rodrigo’s second album, “GUTS,” stormed the Billboard charts. “SOUR,” Rodrigo’s debut album, reached unthinkable heights, winning three Grammys, breaking records and topping the charts with hits such as “Good 4 U” and “Drivers Licencse.”  Her sophomore album was highly anticipated, and it did not disappoint. “GUTS” encapsulates the feeling of growing up as a teenage girl with all the awkwardness, angst and insecurities. Maintaining her young and angsty sound while also showcasing a new playful and mature voice, Rodrigo establishes her place in the music industry and ensures she’s not going anywhere.

Track 1: all-american b—-

Rodrigo opens “GUTS” with the coming of age rock-banger “all-american b—-.” With creative imagery and witty lyrics, Rodrigo romanticizes growing up as a young woman in America and pokes fun at the impossible expectations society places on women. “It’s a concept that I’ve been trying to write for a really long time,” Olivia has said in recent interviews. “It’s one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written.”

Favorite Lyric: “I got class and integrity, just like a g—-mn Kennedy.”

Track 2: bad idea right?

“all american b—-” transitions smoothly into the second track, “bad idea right?” This pop-punk hit uses a clever bass line and prominent drum beat mixed with bold lyrics that showcase Rodrigo’s storytelling skills. She uses archetypal angelic and devious impulses to describe the temptation to meet up with her ex–despite her better judgment and advice from friends–and the action of doing it anyway. “Now I’m gettin’ in the car, wreckin’ all my plans / I know I should stop-, but I can’t.” The repetitive, catchy pre-chorus transitions into a chorus that has fans screaming along. “bad idea right?” was the second single released from “GUTS” and strongly contrasts the heartbroken ballad of the first single, “vampire,” yet both reached the top ten spots on the Billboard chart, with “bad idea right?” peaking at number seven.

Favorite Lyric: “And I’m sure I’ve seen much hotter men / But I really can’t remember when.”

Track 3: vampire

Rodrigo broke her two years of musical silence on June 30 with the song ”vampire,” which may be the most iconic track off of “GUTS.” The song starts off sounding like another Rodrigo piano ballad with her singing about looking back on a relationship with regret and heartbreak, but as the song builds, so does her anger. Rodrigo uses a vampire as the symbol for a mentally and emotionally draining ex-boyfriend, and her raw, powerful voice– together with haunting back up vocals–truly convey her feeling of betrayal. “vampire” captured the hearts of Rodrigo’s fans and reached number one on the Billboard chart.

Favorite Lyric: “You’re so convincing / How do you lie without flinching?”

Track 4: Lacy

Filled with haunting similes and imagery, it figures that Olivia originally wrote “Lacy” for her poetry class at USC. Plucking an acoustic guitar, Rodrigo exquisitely expresses the consuming feeling of envy and comparison while describing a beautiful girl named Lacy, who seems to be “made of angel dust.” A slow and delicate ballad with ethereal harmonies, this song is an instant hit for Rodrigo fans.

Favorite Lyric: “Dazzling starlet, Bardot reincarnate / Well aren’t you the greatest thing to ever exist?”

Track 5: ballad of a homeschooled girl

Many critics and fans agree that “GUTS” has certified Rodrigo’s position as a rock star in the music world, and “ballad of a homeschooled girl” truly exemplifies this. The song opens suddenly with a distorted bass guitar riff and powerful drum beat that guarantees the listener knows what they’re in for. Rodrigo’s brutally honest lyrics describe insecurities, mistaken love interests and many failed social interactions, specifically at parties, that get amplified in retrospect and feel like “social suicide.” The song is reminiscent of “brutal” from SOUR, but with a more mature, yet still sincere and angsty, spin.

Favorite Lyric: “Thought your mom was your wife / Called you the wrong name twice / Can’t think of a third line”

Track 6: making the bed

With “making the bed,” Rodrigo once again proves her unmatched ballad-writing abilities. We’re all familiar with the phrase “you’ve made your bed, now lie in it”, but Olivia takes it to a whole new, beautiful and gut-wrenching place, perfectly exemplifying the feeling of being your own worst enemy and making messes that feel impossible to rectify. Soft guitars and synth give the song a mellow feel, but Rodrigo’s enchanting vocals paired with uncertain yet thoughtful lyrics are what really steal the show. Co-written with producer Dan Nigro, Olivia truly does spill her guts in this song.

Favorite Lyric: “I’m playing the victim so well in my head / but it’s me who’s been making the bed.”

Track 7: logical

Out of all the songs on her new album, this gut wrenching ballad validates the album’s title. The intensity of this song comes from her tone and raw passionate lyrics, which is what makes it the most compelling ballad on the album. Like “vampire” and “get him back,” this song reflects on Rodrigo falling for a guy that was manipulative and toxic, but continuing to stay in the relationship and, as a consequence, neglecting her own needs. Alongside her tragic journey, “logical” excellently presents a new-found vocal maturity.

Favorite lyric: “And now you got me thinking, two plus two equals five / And I’m the love of your life / ‘Cause if rain don’t pour and sun don’t shine / Then changin’ you is possible / No love is never logical”

Track 8: get him back!

“get him back!” has been a fan favorite so far, mainly because of the way the unique and ranting lyrics relate to its audience. That relatability is what made it the second highest charting song on GUTS, following “vampire.” This pop-rock, ‘90s-esque song illustrates Rodrigo’s experience in wanting back a toxic ex: in part because she misses the toxicity. Rodrigo’s confusion, anger, and all the distinguishable emotions she feels throughout the song make it such a hit. “I had such a desire to live and experience things and make mistakes and grow after Sour came out. I kind of felt this pressure to be this girl that I thought everyone expected me to be. I think because of that pressure, maybe I did things that maybe I shouldn’t have—dated people that I shouldn’t have,” Rodrigo said about her song’s inspiration to the New York Times.

Favorite lyric: “And when I told him how he hurt me / He’d tell me I was trippin’ / But I am my father’s daughter / So maybe I could fix him,”

Track 9: love is embarrassing

In “love is embarrassing”, Rodrigo confronts a former heartbreak with a new tongue and cheek approach. She looks at all the times she cried over, blindly trusted and expected a future with a boyfriend who actually just ended up being a loser, and playfully mocks herself for her tendencies to idealize toxic relationships. The verses have an ‘80s sound to them and then the catchy chorus lets loose with lyrics: “It don’t mean a thing / God, love’s f—-ing embarrassing.”

Favorite lyric: “Just watch as I crucify myself / for some weird second string loser who’s not worth mentioning”

Track 10: the grudge

“the grudge” is yet another heartfelt ballad that has stolen Rodrigo’s fans’ hearts. A casual listener might mistake it for just another breakup song, but Olivia’s fans speculate the subject is not a man , but her former idol Taylor Swift. With lyrics like, “You built me up to watch me fall / You have everything and you still want more,” Rodrigo might refer to how Swift inspired Rodrigo’s career, but ironically tried ruining it by suing her for copyright infringement and ending up with 50 percent in royalties of Rodrigo’s popular song, “Deja Vu.” Confirming their suspicions, Rodrigo mentioned the nightmares she has about that one Friday in May, which coincidentally is when the scandal started. The continuous questioning and melancholic tone relays how hurt and confused she is about this situation. Building from the gentle notes to the powerful and deeper passing tone of the piano illustrated Rodrigo’s betrayal, making her fans shudder at the idea of meeting their idols.

Favorite Lyric: “And I know in my heart / Hurt people hurt people / And we both drew blood / But, man, those cuts were never equal”

Track 11: pretty isn’t pretty

In “pretty isn’t pretty”, Rodrigo shows off her wide vocal range while describing the endless, unreachable standards that come with being a teenage girl. The addicting drum beat and bass line have fans hooked before she even starts singing. The smooth sound combined with the rock undertone goes well alongside the preceding ballad, “the grudge.” In “pretty isn’t pretty,” Rodrigo expresses her feelings of frustration over never being able to perfectly fit into society’s expectations of beauty, despite trying so hard. This topic is similarly described in earlier songs, “Lacy” and “all american b—-”.

Favorite Lyric: “And none of it matters, and none of it ends / You just feel like shit over and over again”

Track 12: teenage dream

The term “teenage dream” has been a topic that Rodrigo has brought up since her first album, “SOUR.” It was first alluded to in “brutal”, but now takes its own name for the final track on “GUTS.” The ballad reflects on the hardships of Rodrigo’s teenage years as she enters adulthood and on the fact that she feels she not only let herself down, but others in her younger years. Lyrics like “Sorry that I couldn’t always be your teenage dream,” or “Will I spend all the rest of my years wishing I could go back?” exemplify just how remorseful she feels. This song is also a great demonstration of how Olivia connects with her fans. Through shedding light on deep and controversial questions like, “Yeah, they all say it gets better/ it gets better, but what if I don’t?” or “When am I gonna stop being great for my age and just start being good?” Rodrigo always reassures them that they are not alone in this feeling of confusion.

Favorite Lyric: “I’ll blow out the candles, happy birthday to me, got your whole life ahead of you, you’re only nineteen, but I fear that they already got all the best parts of me”

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