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Bishop Miege Press

The Student News Site of Bishop Miege

Bishop Miege Press

The Student News Site of Bishop Miege

Bishop Miege Press


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Sink Your Teeth Into “GUTS”: Olivia Rodrigo’s sophomore album is an all-American ballad

Photo courtesy of Geffen Records
Olivia Rodrigo just dropped her second studio album on September eighth of this year.

Another album with an emotionally vulnerable Olivia Rodrigo? Count me in. After listening to Rodrigo’s second album, I have a newfound appreciation for pen game and the importance of showing yourself love in the times you need it most.

“GUTS” as a whole has hit after hit on its list. Themes of losing someone close, the struggle to forgive, intense heartache and the pains of growing up in the world of today are all oozing out of her tracks. Rodrigo perfectly illustrates how sometimes it feels like society is out to get you. She recognizes the egoism that comes with this mentality and comments on the struggles of coming to terms with it.

Rodrigo once again works with her producer Dan Nigro. The listener can see Rodrigo’s songwriting shine even more with Nigro’s production. Each song has its own unique sound but can be connected to the main subject of the album: spilling your guts to others or having someone else nonconsensually spill them for you. 

The trajectory of the album is also extremely satisfying as listeners travel through a rollercoaster of emotions. Usually, this would be distracting and not advantageous to the mood. However in this case, it perfectly represents the life of teens today: everything good and bad happening all at once. 

The singles “Vampire” and “Bad Idea, Right?” were excellent teaser choices for the album. Rodrigo knows how to masterfully draw her audience in with her breathy vocals that quickly turn to powerful belts, which is largely seen on “Vampire.” These two tracks stand well on their own but not the most striking of the songs that reside on the album.

Though it was quite difficult to narrow them down, here are four tracks that have become quite the ear worms for myself as I have listened to the album: “logical”, “the grudge”, “pretty isn’t pretty”, and “teenage dream”.

“Each song has its own unique sound but can be connected to the main subject of the album: spilling your guts to others or having someone else nonconsensually spill them for you.”

— River Ball

The seventh song on her album titled “Logical” has a slow, deliberate opening that beckons the listener to follow the piano wherever it is going. Rodrigo starts out small and lets the layers of harmonies build. Then, she adds some acoustic guitar along with the piano. As she lets her chest voice take control, the listener is able to hear the pain in Rodrigo’s voice. The song addresses the topic of frustrating and confusing relationships.She sings, “I look so stupid thinking two plus two equals five and I’m the love of your life.”

The 10th song on “GUTS” is titled “The Grudge,” and it only states the word “grudge” once in the first verse. It is unnecessary to say it more than once because of just how effectively Rodrigo captivates the essence and feelings of a relationship that still lacks forgiveness. The bold belts in the bridge of the song emphasize the hurt of a broken heart and the strength necessary to forgive the person who broke it. This is the final line of the bridge.“You built me up to watch me fall. You have everything and you still want more.”

The song directly following “The Grudge” is “Pretty Isn’t Pretty.” This track slightly deviates from the “failed relationships” idea that listeners generally associate with Rodrigo. The theme of this song is centered around feeling like just being pretty is not enough for society. The lyrics emulate harsh reality but are coupled with airy, yet still supportive, instrumental work. It allows for Rodrigo’s voice to shine brightly and truly touch the heart of the listener. “‘Cause pretty isn’t pretty enough anyway. You can win the battle, but you’ll never win the war.”

The 12th and final track on this album is entitled “Teenage Dream”. It is by far my personal favorite song on the record. Rodrigo effortlessly blends the soft, light tones of her voice with high notes that send goosebumps up the spine. The addition of violins in the second verse is another example of the perfect partnership of Nigro and Rodrigo. This song showcases how much pressure there is on young people to live a certain way and to strive for perfection. At one point she apologizes to a multitude of audiences saying, “I’m sorry that I couldn’t be your teenage dream.” I take this as a way of saying, “I’m sorry I couldn’t be the perfect teenager you wanted.” I think this song is special because it is up to the listener to decide who “your” is and “they” are. “They all say that it gets it better; it gets better, the more you grow. They all say that it gets better; it gets better, but what if I don’t.”

Overall, the vibe and attitude of the album is what shocked me. I was initially thinking that it would be another breakup album, which wouldn’t be bad, just not fresh. I was blown away by the amount of maturity in Rodrigo’s voice since her last album, but not necessarily the songwriting. She has always been a gifted lyricist and “GUTS” showcases this in a new way. Give Rodrigo’s album a listen; not a bad idea, right?

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River Ball, Opinion Editor

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