OLIVIA RODRIGO’S DRIVERS LICENSE: Record-breaking 17 year old that catapulted into stardom – and the backlash that comes with young success

Who is Olivia Rodrigo?

Olivia Rodrigo is a young artist who is playing a big role in our generation today. (marinel perez)

At only 17 years old, she has made waves in the music industry, breaking national and global records all within days of the release of her debut single, “drivers license,” on January 8th, 2021. Olivia is especially inspiring for young women of color as a Filipina-American herself, having earned the title of First Asian-American Woman to hit #1 on the Apple Music Charts. (camille casiles)

Many of her fans knew her from the Disney Channel show Bizaardvark, while most started following her after her role of Nini in the hit show, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. “Driver’s license” showed off her most incredible songwriting skills, as she wrote a beautiful song about heartbreak that pulls at our most guarded emotions. (anika venkannagari)

Her Debut Song: DRIVER’S LICENSE

At such a young age, Olivia was able to break records like #1 on Spotify, Apple Music, Itunes, and many more. Her song gained popularity through the app TikTok as well, with many users breath taken with her heartfelt lyrics, sharing their reactions and creating several trends.

Olivia’s raw emotion and breathtaking falsettos throughout Driver’s License emotionally connects with the listener, which is the main reason why this song was a success. Although Olivia’s mature tone and singing style are oftentimes compared to artists like Lorde and Taylor Swift, it is important to acknowledge her as her own entity—allowing the artist to develop her own unique sound. (Bill Chen)

Shattering records and making headlines, “driver’s license” is more than just a single but an indicator to the music industry generation z is the future. (Isabel Rodriguez)

The Records Olivia Smashed

Her emotional ballad racked up 95,000 chart sales over the last week, including 10.9 million streams.

“Olivia Rodrigo’s “Drivers License” has set Spotify’s record for most streams in a day for a non-holiday song” (spotify)

“Olivia’s also got the biggest opening week of overall chart sales for a number one debut single in almost five years, since Zayn Malik’s Pillowtalk in February 2016.”

The Spotify team has never seen “a newer artist that just comes out of the gate in such a dominant way, and just continues to grow.”

She is the first Asian American to hit #1 on the Apple Music Charts

TIKTOK’S IMPACT 

TikTok, a staple video-creating app in the daily lives of many members of Gen-Z, has been the breeding ground for trends and up-and-coming talent. Drivers License is no different– one of the reasons the songs skyrocketed to the top of the charts and has already made a deep impression on Gen Z is the various reactions to the song via small and large TikTok creators alike. This is far from a new concept– the repeated use of songs as TikTok audios has been attributed to the success of various songs and has aided underground artists in becoming household names. Heather by Conan Gray, Supalonely by Benee, and Mr Loverman by Rickey Montgomery all attest to this, proving how the app has helped popularize the ‘bedroom pop’ sound and has impacted the music industry as a whole. There is an undeniable link between trending TikTok audios and how well a track charts. 

Drivers License has sparked trends as well, easing to various TikTok creators to share their own mashup of the audio with songs such as Getaway Car by Taylor Swift and Greenlight by Lorde. Other TikToks revolving around Drivers License include teens sharing the ways in which they relate to Rodrigo’s feelings of heartbreak and being someone’s second choice– many people of color have taken to interpreting the line ‘you’re probably with that blonde girl’ as a call-out towards racial biases and ‘preferences’ that others hold, creating their own trend showcasing their experiences and struggles with dating.

The Fame and Pressure That Comes With Success

There is a great amount of pressure when it comes to being in the spotlight, especially at such a young age. (EJ)

Many young successful artists like Billie Eilish have previously been criticized for being “undeserving of their success,” with online trolls of all ages diminishing their achievements (anika venkannagari)

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 09: Billie Eilish attends the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

Add in The Drama + The Negativity

It is no secret that this aspect of emotional resonation plays a major role in her well-deserved success, but critics may argue that her achievements are solely due to the controversial drama surrounding the topic of the song. Not only does this downplay Olivia’s phenomenal abilities, but also contributes to the pattern of minimization in the music industry for women of color. (camille casiles)

People seemed to be drawn to this song for many reasons. Some seem to be interested in speculating the drama and rumors between Olivia and Joshua’s relationship. (bill chen)

Olivia’s Relation to Other Young Artists

Olivia’s talent and success reminds us of other incredible young artists like Billie Eilish, Willow Smith, Ruel, Noah Cyrus, and many others who are dominating the music industry with their talent. 

Although Olivia’s mature tone and singing style are oftentimes compared to artists like Lorde and Taylor Swift, it is important to acknowledge her as her own entity—allowing the artist to develop her own unique sound. (bill chen)

Why Olivia and her Debut Song are so Important

Not many people her age can gain that success in just less than a week like she was able to portray today. Many young artists like Olivia learn and grow throughout the music industry but her success was an astonishing outcome that caught many people’s eyes. (marinel perez)

Olivia’s success is incredibly inspiring to other young musicians, artists, and even all of Gen Z. She’s a perfect example of how pure talent and hard work can lead to success. She never imagined her first song would be so monumental, and to the rest of her young fans, it proves that we can too achieve our greatest dreams. (anika venkannagari)

Praise From Legends in the Music Industry

Driver’s License not only brought it an enormous amount of support from fans, but it also received praise from music legends in the industry.

Olivia’s idol, Taylor Swift, one of the most successful music artists, commented on her post writing, “I say that’s my baby and I’m really proud.”

The Celebrities Loving Olivia Rodrigo's 'Drivers License' As Much As You –  From... - Capital
via @Olivia_Rodrigo on Twitter

Many others like Niall Horan, Joe Jonas and Halsey showed their love and appreciation for Driver’s License on their Instagrams and live streams.

Looking Forward to What Comes Next

Driver’s License is Olivia’s first single, and as seen by several Instagram videos of her singing other songs she wrote, we know that she has a lot more in store for the world.

With so much success from her debut, it’s set the stage for Olivia to become a music legend in the future.

We at Zenerations, along with the rest of the world, cannot wait to see her grow into one of music’s biggest artists, and we’re looking forward to see all she accomplishes in the future (anika venkannagari)

The Team’s Opinions

There is a great amount of pressure when it comes to being in the spotlight, especially at such a young age. It is quite the accomplishment breaking records at 17 years old. Although Olivia’s “Drivers License” is getting recognition and there are so many positive reactions, there are also negative ones. Some seem to be more interested in the drama rather than her talent. She has been receiving hate, as well as the rumoured people involved in the “storyline” of the song. Some seem to be siding with certain people and rumour after rumour is arising. Because of this, they’re being brought down, and their accomplishments are being belittled (referring to how people were hating on Joshua’s new song because Drivers License is “better”). Respect people’s privacy, whether or not they are in the spotlight! – EJ

Olivia’s debut single “Driver’s License” has quickly risen to the top of the top charts since its initial release. People seemed to be drawn to this song for many reasons. Some seem to be interested in speculating the drama and rumors between Olivia and Joshua’s relationship. While others seem to enjoy the song due to its lyrical structure and phrasing, many people can relate to the lyrics of how it feels to go through a break-up. Olivia’s raw emotion and breathtaking falsettos throughout Driver’s License emotionally connects with the listener, which is the main reason why this song was a success. Although Olivia’s mature tone and singing style are oftentimes compared to artists like Lorde and Taylor Swift, it is important to acknowledge her as her own entity—allowing the artist to develop her own unique sound. – Bill Chen

Olivia Rodrigo is a young artist who is playing a big role in our generation today. At such a young age she was able to break records like #1 on Spotify, Apple Music, Itunes, a 2.4 million streamed MV in 24 hours, including 95,000 chart sales over the last week with her song being numerously repeated multiple times. Not many people her age can gain that success in just less than a week like she was able to portray today. Many young artists like Olivia grow and learn throughout the music industry but her success was an astonishing outcome that caught many people’s eyes. It may have been great for others, but many young artists like her get pressured and thrown down since they have gained that “fame” or from appearances, rumors, etc. even if her song may have involved in a drama scene, it isn’t meant for people to take seriously when we wouldn’t know the true meaning behind the story. It is a huge reminder that being an artist isn’t all fame and glory but yet that we should remember to appreciate an incredible young artist like her and many more others that she was able to be inspired from (Taylor Swift, etc.) – Marinel Perez

Olivia Rodrigo blew the world away when she released her first single, Driver’s License on January 8th, 2021. Many of her fans knew her from the Disney Channel show Bizaardvark, while most started following her after her role of Nini in the hit show, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. While we have seen both her acting and singing sides in her previous roles, Driver’s License showed off her most incredible songwriting skills, as she wrote a beautiful song about heartbreak that pulls at our most guarded emotions. With her incredible voice and enormous talent, Olivia broke records, smashing the charts, and she’s only 17! As a fan of Olivia for a while now, I’m so incredibly proud of how far she’s come, and the courage and strength it took to take her deepest hurt and turn it into something magnificent. I, along with the rest of the world, cannot wait to see her grow into one of music’s biggest artists, and I’m looking forward to see all she accomplishes in the future! – Anika Venkannagari

At only 17 years old, Olivia Rodrigo has made waves in the music industry, breaking national and global records all within days of the release of her debut single, “drivers license.” Olivia has easily become a role model for our generation and is especially inspiring for young women of color as a Filipina-American herself, having earned the title of First Asian-American Woman to hit #1 on the Apple Music Charts.

Olivia’s powerfully raw lyrics provoke a deep connection within listeners across the globe as she delivers a vulnerable narrative strengthened by her unbelievably moving vocals. It is no secret that this aspect of emotional resonation plays a major role in her well-deserved success, but critics may argue that her achievements are solely due to the controversial drama surrounding the topic of the song. Not only does this downplay Olivia’s phenomenal abilities, but also contributes to the pattern of minimization in the music industry for women of color.

It is important to acknowledge that our favorite artists are just as human as the rest of us and hateful words add unnecessary negativity to the beautiful art form of music. Rather, we should express appreciation for artists who are willing to open up and share their deepest feelings so that we too could feel understood and heard. – Camille

Breakout Artist Olivia Rodrigo lets the world know that age is not an obstacle through her mature and captivating debut single, “Driver’s License.” Shattering records and making headlines, Olivia’s song is more than just a single but an indicator to the music industry generation z is the future. Her exploration of young love through colors and emotions combined with her raw and honest vocals truly captivates the listener and engages them in the storyline. Her talent is apparent, and it is clear she is becoming the next rising star and future role model. – Isabel Rodriguez


A COLLABORATIVE EFFORT BETWEEN:

Anika Venkannagari

Anika is a 16 year old, first generation Indian-American from Michigan. She has a very strong interest in business, law, politics, and activism. Some of her hobbies include traveling and playing the piano, and you can always find her reading a book. She is an active member of clubs in her school, serving as an officer for Student Council and DECA. She’s especially passionate about climate change and feminism, and hopes to work towards creating a better America.

Alexa Garcia

Alexa Garcia (Lexie) is a 15-year-old Dominican-American with dreams to see the world and inspire others through her craft. Her main goals consist of pursing Film, Theater Arts, and Creative Writing/Poetry. She is also very passionate about Self Love, Scoliosis Awareness, Feminism, Environmental activism, etc. She is a Tech and Visual Arts major at High Tech High School in New Jersey. Alexa is super excited to be a part of such a great community!

Marinel Perez

Marinel is a Filipino American and is a high schooler from Michigan. She passionate about being involved in leadership, politics, social justice, Asian culture and a change to the world today. She enjoys singing, listening to music, being on call with her friends on discord, and also being creative. In college, she plans to be a psych major and hopes to be involved including to discover more about her own Filipino culture.

Camille Casiles

Camille is 16-year-old creator from Southern California who uses her platform to bring light to various social issues. In 2019, she founded a non-profit selling apparel to raise funds for different organizations in support of their impactful work toward such causes. She aims to study Psychology along with Community Engagement & Social Change, understanding that human connection has a powerful influence on the people’s lives. Whether it be through dance, media, or graphic design, she hopes that through combining experiences with creative expression, she’ll be able to provide an insightful perspective that inspires others to do good in the world.


Bill Chen

Bill is a 16 year old first generation Chinese American attending West Springfield High School. He is actively involved in numerous extracurriculars like Model UN, Track, and Student Council. Outside of school, Bill is a part of his county’s Human Rights Commission where he is passionate about starting initiatives to combat police brutality, mental health, and fair housing within his community. He enjoys creating artwork, playing the violin, and watching Criminal Minds in his free time.

Keya Rav

Keya Rav is a 15 year old from New Jersey (USA). She’s a first gen Indian, and also bisexual. Keya been a classical dancer and a traditional artist for the past ten years, and has played the flute for eight years. She is the flute section leader in her school’s award winning marching band, and a part of their top ensemble. In addition, keya is a national student ambassador for the my school votes program. She passionate about dance, art, music, writing, and politics. She believes in making the world a better place for everyone to exist, because we’re all human and we all deserve empathy.

Casey Grace

Casey Grace Lai is a 14-year-old freshman of Chinese, Indonesian, and Vietnamese descent currently based in Singapore. Although she enjoys a bit of everything under the sun, she’s extremely passionate about activism, anything related to Literature and History, and musical theatre. A huge fan of about any music genre out there, music is an integral part of her daily life and she moves through her day as if it were a musical, mostly seen from her ability to play four instruments. She is highly competitive, although her proudest achievement to date is that she can sing the entirety of several Broadway musical soundtracks.

Dylan Follmer

Dylan is a 16-year old junior at Bayonne High School, who displays multiple interests in politics, activism, writing, reading, and journalism. She is passionate about making changes in the world as a member of Generation Z, and strongly believes that the youth can influence and change the world in the best way possible.


Sophia Delrosario

Sophia Delrosario is a 16 year old, first-gen Filipina D|FAB major at High Tech High School that strives to make change in today’s world. She founded Zenerations in April 2020, is a member of the Junior State of America, served as Vice President and Secretary for Student Government, and is a Vine Member at JUV Consulting. She is passionate about writing, politics, film, STEM, and fashion, and is heavily involved in the activist space.

Lilly Marsh

This sixteen-year old, multi-talented creative genius can do it all. From photography, to DIY clothes, to playing guitar and piano, to creating clay earrings, Lilly has several hobbies and a knack for craftiness that makes her the perfect graphic designer for ZENERATIONS.

She owns a local jewelry business called TumblingBooks, where she associates her products with charity.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: