Rodrigo’s ‘Drivers License’ revs up students’ emotions, past heartbreaks


Karen Lee

An Accolade artist’s illustration of a still from the “Drivers License” music video.

Hanna Jung, Videographer

For most teens, having a license comes with the freedom to drive around with friends and make great high school memories. For 18-year-old Olivia Rodrigo, it turned out to be much more. 

Actress and singer-songwriter Rodrigo released her debut single “Drivers License” on Jan. 8, and just 72 hours later, it broke the Spotify record for most streams in a single day at 15.17 million streams.

While breaking multiple streaming records on platforms such as Apple and Amazon Music, the Filipino-American singer debuted at No. 1 on the new Billboard Hot 100 as the first — and youngest — Asian-American woman to do so according to Filipino-based music data collection website MYX Global.

“I think it’s so inspirational as a person of color.” sophomore Camille Janice said. “Many of her idols have started to [notice] her work (artists such as Lorde, Cardi B. and Taylor Swift), and I think that’s so cool.”

One of the main factors that contributed to the song’s success was the controversy regarding the rumored love triangle between Rodrigo, her “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series co-star Joshua Bassett and Disney Channel child star, Sabrina Carpenter. 

“I’m so invested with the drama and the Easter eggs dropped in the song,” sophomore Jacky Woo said. “The song itself is really good and almost relatable, but it makes it a lot more meaningful since [her followers] got to witness the whole situation on social media.”

Senior Ethan Lau first discovered the song while scrolling through his for-you-page on TikTok.

“I don’t listen to a lot of Olivia Rodrigo’s music, but this song [from TikTok posts] just stood out to me.” Lau said. “I think it pulls on a lot of peoples’ heartstrings because the instrumental track harmonizes perfectly with Olivia’s voice and lyrics to create this emotional piece.” 

The Swift-inspired pop ballad addresses her alleged breakup with Bassett, and how he’s “probably with that blonde girl” whom fans have inferred as Carpenter. Throughout the four-minute song, it’s clear that Rodrigo is not over her boyfriend, as she sings, “Today I drove through the suburbs, ‘cause how could I ever love someone else.” 

The music video of the hit single features the singer driving in her car by herself, passing through a suburban neighborhood.

The catchy, relatable lyrics then transitions into an effervescent emotion-racking bridge; listeners like Lau and junior Jacob Dedeaux were immediately addicted. 

“The combination of her beautiful lyricism and amazing vibrato is what makes ‘Driver’s License’ such a good song, along with how [the lyrics] connect to millions of teenagers around the world,” Dedeaux said. “It’s the perfect song to blast in your car for any and every reason.”