• Romi Fernandez Riviello

Young Disney star Olivia Rodrigo's debut single proves to be a global hit


A song centered on getting a driver's license has won overnight fame and broken multiple streaming records since its January 9 release, including the record for most Spotify streams in a week. Three key factors are responsible for the success of “Drivers license” by Olivia Rodrigo: TikTok, fan speculations of hidden drama, and the talent of teenage Disney star Olivia Rodrigo. As freshman Keaton Sheppard summarized, “It has a connection to drama in the social scene. Everybody wants to be caught up on that.”


Actress-singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo is more widely known as the star of the Disney+ series High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. Rodrigo dropped her debut song on January 9, and it rocketed up the charts, breaking Spotify's record for most streams in a day for a non-holiday song, with over 15 million global plays (the song continued to beat its own record, with over 17 million streams the following day on Jan. 12).


Drivers license quickly spread on all platforms, one of them being TikTok. Rodrigo’s TikTok introducing her song had 39.8 million views at this writing and over two billion views for TikToks associated with #driverslicense. “It was the first sound that came up when I opened TikTok in the morning,” senior Genevieve Baldwin pointed out. While playing little snippets of the song, TikTok raised interest in the song, causing users to stream it on other platforms such as Spotify. “I kept hearing it on TikTok, so I was like okay I’ll listen to the whole thing and then I was like, ‘Okay this is really good,’” said sophomore Daniela Higgins.


Fan speculations regarding the backstory of the song have kept the public engaged. “I’m invested in the drama,” Baldwin confessed. The essence of this heartbreak song created massive talk about possible hidden messages in the lyrics. “I still see your face in the white cars” is tied to Rodrigo’s co-star Joshua Bassett and the lyric “you're probably with that blonde girl” tied to Disney star Sabrina Carpenter.


Sheppard shared her opinion on why this song is so popular: “The fact that is connected to some drama in the social media scene, and that there's now a response song from the other artists.” The linked celebrities have now released new songs (Basset: “lie lie lie”; Carpenter: “skin”) causing greater speculation and search for connections between the songs. “It's the Justin Bieber / Selena drama for our generation,” mused Baldwin. “It's probably a PR stunt. There's no way they could’ve written, produced and released all these songs at the same time. That doesn't stop me from imagining it's real” she added. PR stunt or not, the music coming out of this situation is “fire” in Baldwin’s words.


The song also stands out with its heart wrenching and relatable lyrics. “The lyric ‘I still hear your voice in the traffic’ is literally genius,” Higgins pointed out. Apart from the speculations about the lyrics, Rodrigo’s talent shines through the song, while managing to remain with the main motif of driving. “It's a really beautiful song” mentioned Sheppard. Emotion filled lyrics accompanied by a catchy beat, the song allowed people to connect with it and weep (literally and metaphorically). “She's such a good singer,” Baldwin admits, “but also the lyrics are so specific to her while also being really relatable. I liked it from a songwriting stance.”


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