“Drivers License”: a chart-breaking anomaly

By Anoushka Roshan (’24) | March 1, 2021

If you are even remotely interested in pop culture or music, you have probably heard the song “Drivers License” by Olivia Rodrigo. Released in January 2021, Olivia Rodrigo’s debut single, “Drivers License,” quickly hit number one within a week of its release and broke several records. Rodrigo was even noticed by Taylor Swift herself. But why is this song so popular? How did it break Spotify’s record for most streams in one week, beating Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings” for most single day streams? 

There are a couple reasons, the most entertaining and drama-filled one being the love triangle behind the song. Fan theories suggest that the song is about Joshua Bassett, her High School Musical: The Musical Series co-star and rumored ex-boyfriend, and Sabrina Carpenter, his rumored girlfriend. The lyrics “You’re probably with that blonde girl” especially seemed to point to Sabrina Carpenter. Even though this hasn’t been confirmed, people on TikTok quickly started making videos and memes and adding their own theories about who inspired the song. Joshua Bassett and Sabrina Carpenter fans quickly decided to check out the song to connect the dots for themselves. Soon after the release of “Drivers License,” both Bassett and Carpenter released their own songs, “Lie Lie Lie” and “Skin” respectively. Many people believed that “Skin” was a direct response to “Drivers License” with lyrics like “Maybe blonde was the only rhyme.” This seemed to refer to Olivia Rodrigo’s lyric about her love interest being with a blonde girl. 

Another reason for the song’s popularity, surprisingly, is Taylor Swift. Olivia Rodrigo is a huge fan of Taylor Swift and was obviously excited when they shared a memorable exchange on one of Rodrigo’s Instagram posts. Rodrigo originally posted a screenshot of her song being ranked below Swift’s songs on the iTunes charts. Taylor responded by saying that she was “really proud” of her “baby.” After Swift’s show of support, her fans rallied behind Rodrigo and streamed “Drivers License.” 

Nonetheless, the most important reason behind this song’s massive popularity is the song itself. It has everything a breakout single needs: heartfelt lyrics, catchy melodies, and a genuinely meaningful story, causing a lot of people to connect with it. The song is perfect to drive to, cry to, or even scream the lyrics in your car. However, not everybody loves “Drivers License.” Some people think it’s overplayed and overrated, but every song has its fair share of haters. “Drivers License” has managed to stay strong at number one for five weeks and will probably stay there for a couple more. While Rodrigo hasn’t released any more music after “Drivers License,” it will be exciting to see if Rodrigo can repeat the success of “Drivers License” in the future. 

Categories: Entertainment

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