Let’s Talk About It — Olivia Rodrigo’s “Driver’s License”


Erin Chun

Oliva Rodrigo made music history with her single “Driver’s License” — let’s talk about it.

On Jan. 7, 2021, 17-year-old Olivia Rodrigo released her debut single “Driver’s License” and was immediately met with unprecedented, shocking success. Her single smashed Spotify’s records for the most streamed non-holiday song in a day, peaking at 17.1 million streams on January 12. This is just shy of Mariah Carey’s 17.2 million one-day streaming record for her iconic Christmas song “All I want for Christmas Is You.” Hailed by Rolling Stone as an early “song of the year,” the debut success of “Driver’s License” is overwhelmingly dominating Spotify’s global streaming records, surpassing all other radio hits by a definitive landslide; to put into perspective the insanity of her success, her single streams quadruple the amount of her nearest competitor, established Puerto Rican artist Bad Bunny, whose track “Dákiti” reached around four million streams. 

“Driver’s License” has set off a frenzy on social media, where Rodrigo’s song has been the subject of thousands of TikToks and tweets. Listeners can’t help but to empathize with her soulful laments about heartbreak, with supporters deeply invested in the personal context behind the single and speculating its meaning being tied to her co-star and rumoured ex-boyfriend Joshua Bassett and his current rumored girlfriend Sabrina Carpenter. Regardless of whether or not the truth of this rumor has basis in reality, Rodrigo has not gone on record to explicitly confirm nor deny this suspicion. This rumor is more so a testament to the deeply personal connection that her fans feel towards her as an artist, as her music extends a hand to listeners past the veil of her artistry and into the heart of its creator. 

Although the burden of representation should not fall upon the shoulders of any one minority who achieves success, Rodrigo is of Filipino descent, and her achievement should be acknowledged as a optimistic new era of POC presence in contemporary media. “Driver’s License” is a refreshingly positive reminder that talented, young women in the entertainment and music industry are celebrated, seen, and recognized. I patiently await the arrival of her EP, but until then, I hope we can all collectively support Olivia as she traverses through the tumultuous terrain that is newfound fame within the framework of a hostile and selective occupation.

Release Date: Jan. 7, 2021

Image courtesy of Popsugar.