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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Liner Notes: ‘GUTS’ is the soundtrack for your next slumber party

Illustration by Shveta Shah
There’s no sophomore slump for Olivia Rodrigo with her second album “Guts.”

Olivia Rodrigo has come a long way since her youthful emergence on the pop culture scene in 2016 when she starred in the aptly-named Disney Channel television series “Bizaardvark.” Now 20-years-old, Rodrigo has burst onto the scene once again with her sophomore album, “GUTS” — a collection of feisty, funky bubblegum rock songs that serve as the perfect soundtrack for spilling, of course, your guts. 

Rodrigo has followed the path of many a Disney-Channel-child-actor-turned-popstar — shedding the quirky innocence of her Disney-sona almost immediately after the show and going full “Radio Rebel.” Released when Rodrigo was just 18 years of age, her 2021 debut album, “SOUR,” was an instant smash hit — a true encapsulation of the Gen Z experience set against sweet and, of course, sour pop instrumentals. 

Rodrigo seems to know that this new album will be the reigning slumber party anthem of this generation. The album’s first track, “all-american bitch,” begins with the lyrics “I am light as a feather, I’m as stiff as a board,” a plaintive reference to the classic sleepover game of the same name. The song is a subtle shift in direction from Rodrigo’s original sound on “SOUR,” but she embraces her newfound pop-punk prospects with all the overconfidence of a 20-year-old, ready to take on her second decade of life. 

“bad idea right?” and “get him back!” are truly just transcripts of teenage gossip set to music. “bad idea right?” is Rodrigo’s frenetic attempt to convince an invisible audience — perhaps her best friends — about the merits of getting back with her ex. Spoiler alert: she’s not very convincing, but then again, has anyone ever managed to convince their best girlfriends that seeing him tonight is a good idea? 

“get him back!” shares the same singsong spoken-word vocals that “bad idea right?” features, but this time Rodrigo is more confident in her abilities to bag the boy. Though “GUTS” describes the Gen Z experience of modern love, Rodrigo also channels her inner 90s punk-rock girlboss to create a sound that is a timeless representation of teenage angst.

When Rodrigo is not singing flippantly about her past paramours on “GUTS,” she’s got the other token adolescent emotion — heartbreak — down pat. One of the album’s hit singles, “vampire,” wraps up all the pain and anger of betrayal into a perfectly powerful collection of heart-aching, high-pitched howling lyrics. 

But, the album’s emotional height is by far the metaphor-packed “logical,” replete with a piano line à la Adele’s most soulful ballads. While Rodrigo began “SOUR” by asking listeners, “Where’s my f—ing teenage dream?”, she closes “GUTS” with an apology for ever believing in a teenage dream in the first place. 

For someone who sings so frequently about not knowing who she is, there’s one thing Rodrigo does know — her own sound. She masterfully avoids all the notorious pitfalls of a sophomore album, creating something equally as new and progressive as it is familiar and timeless. 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @TabithaParent12

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