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Olivia Rodrigo was only 17 years old when she made headlines for breaking global music records. Ever since the American singer and songwriter released her debut single, Driver’s License, there has been no looking back for her.
Her debut single broke Spotify’s records for most streams in a day for a non-holiday song. It also became the fastest song ever to hit the 100 million streams mark, which is no mean feat considering that much bigger, older, and more experienced artists than Rodrigo have their music on Spotify.
If you’re an Olivia Rodrigo fan who would like to know more about her rise to fame, keep reading.
Olive Rodrigo’s big break
Olivia Rodrigo may be known primarily for her music by her adoring fans, but the singer and songwriter actually got her big break in an Old Navy television commercial when she was 12 years old. Then, she starred in a direct-to-video movie released in 2015 titled An American Girl: Grace Stirs Up Success, in which she portrayed the character of Grace, a young girl and aspiring baker who signs up for a French baking contest in order to save her grandparents’ patisserie from closing down. Judging by how young she was when she started acting in ad films and movies, Rodrigo’s path to success isn’t too different from that of other child stars who went on to become huge pop music successes, such as Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, and Demi Lovato.
The following year, in 2015, Disney picked Rodrigo to star in the drama series Bizaardvark as Paige Olvera, a young girl with a knack for playing the guitar. Rodrigo was only 13 then.
The series was about two teenage vloggers who find fame online for their comedic musical skits and their writing. Although the show was canceled in 2019 after a run of three seasons, it put Rodrigo on the map. It’s also where American audiences first got to listen to Rodrigo sing. It also led to her next project with Disney.
In 2017, the budding starlet and singer also appeared in several episodes of the hit show New Girl, which stars Zooey Deschanel. Rodrigo played Terrinea, a student at the school where Zooey Deschanel’s character Jess presides as the principal. Rodrigo’s character is part of a group of three girls who go to the principal to gush over a series of young adult novels written by her roommate and friend Nick.
A fresh face in American pop music
Olivia Rodrigo shot to fame amongst fans of pop music with Driver’s License; her hit debut single that climbed to the number one spot on both US and UK charts, with record-breaking sales that outdid even Zayn Malik’s “Pillowtalk,” which was released in 2016. The song was called the biggest music hit of the year 2021, with vocals that remind the listener of other contemporary female artists like Adele, Billie Eilish, and Lorde.
Olivia Rodrigo is a self-confessed fan of Taylor Swift, and many of her own songs are heavily inspired by Swift’s music. Taylor Swift’s songs allowed her fans a glimpse into whatever emotional high or turmoil she happened to be living through in her personal life, from her breakups with her celebrity boyfriends to her enduring friendships with her girlfriends from high school. According to Rodrigo, many of her own songs are also “about boys” that she has met and had romantic entanglements with.
Rodrigo’s own debut song, Driver’s License, is a re-telling of a high school romance that ends in heartbreak. Her fans believe that the song is about her former boyfriend Joshua Basset, who she co-starred with in the remake of High School Musical. In the remake, Rodrigo played the part of Gabriella while Bassett played Troy. The two are one another’s love interests in the film. In the original High School musical movies, Gabriella and Troy were played by Vanessa Anne Hudgens and Zac Efron, respectively.
Rodrigo and Bassett are said to have dated for some time, after which they are alleged to have broken up. Following that, it was widely believed by Rodrigo’s fans that Bassett quickly moved on with actress and singer Sabrina Carpenter.
The Joshua Bassett-Olivia Rodrigo-Sabrina Carpenter love triangle arguably had a major role to play in popularizing Rodrigo’s music. Rodrigo’s own track was released six months after Bassett’s released his song “Anyone Else” in July 2020, which fans speculated was about his romance with Rodrigo.
The lyrics are: “How am I supposed to think about anything else? / How am I to go on keeping this to myself? / I am done pretending I want anyone else / Anyone else, anyone else.”
Bassett would later confess that the song later confirmed was written about falling in love with a friend who was not attainable.
In her own song, Rodrigo sings, “I just can’t imagine how you could be so OK now that I’m gone / Guess you didn’t mean what you wrote in that song about me.”
Although the two co-stars have never admitted if they were ever involved romantically, their fans believe that Rodrigo and Bassett were a couple in 2020. However, Bassett was believed to be dating Sabrina Carpenter by June 2020, after the two were photographed together at a Black Lives Matter protest in Los Angeles.
While the sets of the High School Musical remake may have been the place where Rodrigo met Joshua Bassett, the boy who would serve as the inspiration behind her hit debut song. The show also became the medium through which she garnered acclaim for her singing voice and musical talent. Many of the songs Olivia Rodrigo performed in the remake became instant hits. You can find tons of album review sites that feature reviews of Olivia Rodrigo’s music.
Olivia Rodrigo and Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift’s musical legacy has had a major role to play in shaping Olivia Rodrigo’s personal taste in music as well as her singing and songwriting career. A self-proclaimed fan of Taylor Swift, Rodrigo credits the beloved American songstress with influencing her musical style.
In fact, Olivia Rodrigo made several covers of some of Taylor Swift’s most popular songs, which also led to Swift herself appreciating the young aspiring singer for her musical talent. The ‘Love Story’ singer even congratulated Rodrigo on her first track to hit number one on music charts. She also left an appreciative comment on Rodrigo’s cover of Swift’s hit song Cruel Summer and then gave it a shout-out on her own social media page.
According to the music magazine Rolling Stone, Olivia Rodrigo’s song ‘Deja Vu’ is influenced by Taylor Swift’s song ’Cruel Summer.’
Rodrigo’s rise to fame as an American pop culture icon
After the election of Joe Biden in 2021, the COVID pandemic showed no signs of abating anytime soon in the United States. In July that year, Rodrigo met with the President and Dr. Anthony Fauci at the White House to discuss strategies to encourage American youth to get vaccinated against the deadly virus. Since then, Rodrigo has posted multiple videos of herself speaking about the importance of getting vaccinated.
Rodrigo’s involvement with the White House COVID response indicates her status as not just a singer who makes good music but also as a huge celebrity in her own right who has a devoted following of millions of young, adoring fans who look up to her and emulate her lifestyle and personal choices. Her celebrity was thus leveraged by the current US administration to encourage vaccination.
A so-called ‘feud’ with Sabrina Carpenter
Even as she scaled the heights of success and broke records with her chart-topping hits, Olivia Rodrigo made the news for her alleged ‘feud’ with fellow singer Sabrina Carpenter, who was believed to be dating her former flame Joshua Bassett.
Although the two have never confirmed the existence of a feud, fans seem to think that Rodrigo’s song Driver’s License throws ‘shade’ at Carpenter.
In order to clarify the rumors that were going around about alleged references in her music to Carpenter, Rodrigo publicly stated that she didn’t know Carpenter well enough to be able to write anything “meaningful” about her.
It was almost as though Joshua Bassett was equally keen to put such rumors to rest because after the release of Rodrigo’s second hit single Déjà vu, in April 2021, he went on his Instagram Stories to congratulate his former co-star and friend on her latest offering to the music industry.
A few months later, when he was being interviewed by the magazine GQ in June 2021, Bassett went on to say how much he detested that the rumored love triangle was becoming the focus of the media. According to him, it diminished the accomplishments of all three people (Rodrigo, Bassett, and Carpenter) in the story, putting the spotlight entirely on their alleged romantic entanglements with one another. He went on record to say that both Rodrigo and Carpenter should be celebrated for their songwriting and singing abilities and not for their relationship with a boy.
Debut album Sour and continued success
In May 2021, Olivia Rodrigo released her very first music album, titled Sour. The album debuted at the number one spot on the Billboard 200 chart, where it remained for the next five weeks.
Many of her songs in the album are an acknowledgment to Taylor Swift, who the singer credits as a major influence on her style and singing technique.
This year at the Grammy Awards, Rodrigo took home three Grammys in one night: one for Best New Artist, one for Best Pop Vocal Album for Sour, and one for Pop Solo Performance for her hit debut single Driver’s License. Although she won three Grammys, which is a major achievement in itself, Rodrigo was actually nominated for four Grammys that night.
You can find reviews of Olivia Rodrigo’s album Sour on album review sites online.
The first tour of Rodrigo’s career
Much to the excitement of her fans, Olivia Rodrigo announced that she would be touring across the United States, the UK, Ireland, and Europe in 2022. Tickets have already sold out for the upcoming tour, which is expected to begin sometime in April.
The tour is named the “Sour Tour” after her bestselling album. The Sour album, which was released in May last year, has been described by critics and music fans alike as an “artistic statement” in which the young artist does a fantastic job both of showing off her musical prowess as well as being open about her vulnerabilities. Rodrigo’s own audience is largely composed of young teenage girls who can relate to the romantic troubles she sings about, but her songs can also strike a chord with anyone who enjoys contemporary pop music and trendy music videos.
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