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Olivia Rodrigo’s “GUTS” brings back 90’s pop-rock

Image use with permission from Joshua Mellin/ Flickr
Singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo performs at Glastonbury 2022 before her new album “GUTS” releases Sept. 8. Her pop-rock album took listeners on a journey of rebellion and vulnerability.

Olivia Rodrigo’s second album, “GUTS,” released Sept. 8, is a captivating mix of rebellious rocker-chick anthems and soul-searching songs that could seamlessly fit into the soundtrack of any classic high school movie. 

Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album “drivers license” made her a star overnight, propelling her from a role in Disney’s “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” to becoming a chart-topping singer-songwriter.

While it might appear tailored to the younger generation, the album resonates at any age because Rodrigo confronts familiar problems: troublesome guys, social anxiety, self-esteem issues and constant comparison with other women. 

“GUTS” also showcases Rodrigo’s versatility by introducing more high-energy tracks compared to her previous albums, which leaned towards slower tunes. Despite the more up-tempo songs, Rodrigo’s music still provides a window into her ongoing struggles with mental health and body image. 

“Pretty isn’t pretty” is a powerful song where Rodrigo candidly shares her experiences of struggling with mental health and body image, emphasizing the futility of conforming to societal expectations. Through lines like, “I could try every lipstick in every shade/ But I’d always feel the same/ ‘Cause pretty isn’t pretty enough anyway,” Rodrigo demonstrates her struggles with the unattainable nature of society’s ideals. 

Furthermore, Rodrigo captures the constant fluctuating emotions of a teenage girl, as seen in her song recounting her life in the spotlight as an “all-American” celebrity.  Throughout the track, Rodrigo skillfully uses shifts in tempo and pitch, going from gentle, slower melodies to fast and loud crescendos filled with urgency. Through these juxtapositions, Rodrigo effectively displays the chaotic thoughts that go through an adolescent mind. 

While “GUTS” is full of spunk and biting charisma, it does have a few moments that feel less exciting. Amidst the album’s sharp-witted tracks are some syrupy songs like “logical,” where Rodrigo attempts to describe her romantic irrationality with a mathematical analogy.

These slower moments, though not inherently bad, can feel out of place among others that show her strong self-awareness. Occasionally, they revisit the same wounded, post-breakup emotions found in “drivers license.” The song “the grudge,” even features some piano and soaring vocals reminiscent of her first hit song. Olivia Rodrigo’s “GUTS” brings back 90’s pop-rock

Ultimately, Rodrigo’s album serves as a source of inspiration and comfort for those working through the issues Rodrigo fearlessly sings about. “GUTS” stands out as a thoughtful and candid album that is not only relatable for teenagers, but deals with timeless struggles and stereotypes.

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About the Contributor
Zoe Karibian, Media Team
Zoe Karibian ('26) is a member of the Media Team for The Standard in Advanced Journalism.

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