“GUTS” – The Scream of Olivia Rodrigo See more in the comments 👇

“GUTS” – The Scream of Olivia Rodrigo

Two years after the “drivers license” phenomenon and the release of the album “Sour,” Olivia Rodrigo has returned with a new album: “GUTS.” The 20-year-old artist has proven her mettle as a “Best New Artist” as honored by the Grammys, with songs that cover a wide range of topics and accurately reflect her life.

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Since TikTok stepped in to control the popularity of an artist, the music industry has witnessed many stars appearing once and then fading away. But Olivia Rodrigo has escaped that “curse”. After “drivers license”, she continuously had many hits, from “déjà vu”, “good 4 u”… and finally 3 Grammy awards at the age of 18. Her music is bright, wild, with many colors of the early 2000s with pop-rock, punk – pop songs that made the reputation of Alanis Morissette, Avril Lavigne, P!nk or Gwen Stefani…

The second album, “GUTS”, still retains those features. Working again with producer Daniel Nigro who also contributed to “Sour”, we see a similarity in musical style as well as content and message. There are still gentle ballads and folk songs that are skillfully turned to avoid creating a feeling of boredom (“vampire”, “lacy”, “logical”, “the grudge”…) as well as relatively “noisy” pop – punk – rock songs (“all-american bitch”, “bad idea right?”, “ballad of a homeschooled girl”…). The content is still the confession of the female singer, with the process of growing up at the age of 20 after dreaming about first love, halo and fame.

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The female singer’s image in the single “vampire”

The Story of the New Generation

The album title seems to represent the whole intention of this voice. It is not only the “guts” in the ballads, but also the screams that constrict from within. The artwork is also changed from purple to dark blue, as if suggesting a darker and more haunting record. However, the album is not only about personal emotions, but we can also easily see the bigger things through that.

Opening with “all-american bitch,” Olivia shows her progress in songwriting. The song balances pop and punk, giving it a moderate feel but also conveying the singer’s feelings about breaking out against double standards and prejudices of being an American girl. This is also a rare song that features an impressive guitar solo from Sam Stewart. Sharing in an interview, the 20-year-old singer said that this is her favorite song, and that it took a long time to complete.

It also stands there and opens up the general story of the whole record, with the state of being abandoned, marginalized and unable to fit in. Despite her best efforts “I’m grateful all the time/ I’m sexy and I’m kind” she still has to sourly “I’m pretty when I cry”. Not only for society, Olivia also brings relatively personal feelings into a long series that follows, talking about betrayal, wanting to get back with an ex and the toxic emotions that those relationships want to bring.

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The overall story of the album is one of being abandoned, marginalized, and unable to fit in.

She and producer Daniel Nigro show a deftness in their choice of musical material, with the “bad idea right?” and pop-punk swagger reminiscent of Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” heyday. This is also evident in “lacy,” which has a simple melody that sounds like a lullaby or a children’s folk song. But through the development of the melody and arrangement, it becomes a soothing balm for young people with low self-esteem and depression about beauty standards and the need to strive to achieve them.

The singer’s smoky, airy voice has never been more appropriate, when it’s so moderate and haunting. “Vampire” also showed off her strong, powerful, and emotional high notes. Vocally, “GUTS” is a big step up from her debut, and this element will make the success of ballads like “Making the Bed,” “Logical,” “The Grudge,” and “Teenage Dream.”

Interspersed in the second half of the album are some impressive rock songs. Among them, “Ballad of a Homeschooled Girl” evokes the feeling of garage rock with sounds that were originally composed in the basement or warehouse. Meanwhile, “Get Him Back!” and “Love Is Embarrassing” are full of playfulness with “conspiracies” to make the lover return to you. In the context where artists are still returning to rock, from Demi Lovato with the “REVAMPED” project remixing the big hits that are about to be released to the legend Dolly Parton with “Rockstar”… Olivia Rodrigo knows how to create her own style, representing the new generation using new materials that have always been attributed to the legendary “old guys”.

Still quite safe

It’s no exaggeration to say that Olivia’s punk and rock style has many “school” aspects, similar to “Camp Rock” or “High School Musical” decades ago that created Demi Lovato or the Jonas Brothers. Her songs are still quite catchy with a structure that usually consists of two parts, built in a gentle style and then raised with the crazy sounds of drums and electric guitar. This is moderate material, not pop and not rock, and maybe that’s what makes it attractive to a new generation of listeners.

However, for those who expected more, this new album still does not surpass the previous “Sour”. Accordingly, each individual song does not have “keys” or moments for the audience to remember. It also does not have impressive lead guitar solos (except for the opening song), does not create unity in the overall atmosphere… causing the album’s rhythm to sometimes drag down.

Comparing it to Miley Cyrus’s “Plastic Heart”, if Miley’s husky and harsh voice was considered the highlight of that album, along with the 1970s rock atmosphere maintained throughout the duration of the record, “GUTS” lacks that, when punk is sometimes too close to pop, and the ballads constantly interspersed do not bring a common musical picture.

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Decades of old inspiration returns

In terms of content, the album is still a common voice for souls who are still too naive. There are moments of wild youth, but they are more fragile than that. They always have to live in love that is easily broken (“vampire”, “making the bed”, “logical”), always obsessed with appearance (“lacy”) or gossip (“ballad of a homeschooled girl”). It can be said that no one is more familiar with these topics than Olivia to write them. In the sad ballads accompanied by piano and sometimes interspersed with strings, we see a sharing in the way of handling and song structure in the style of Lorde.

With rock songs, it is also easy to see that the background vocals are sometimes too loud, overwhelming the main sound. If it could be restrained and more unexpected materials such as synths could be added, then with the available materials, “GUTS” could become an impressive album, complete and clearly expressing her personality. In addition, Olivia should also find a way to express herself in a new and richer way, so that the marks, even though self-created, in “Sour” will not be repeated in future projects.

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The content is still the confession of the female singer, with the process of growing up at the age of 20 after dreaming about first love, halo and fame.

But after all, it has only been 2 years since becoming a big phenomenon, “GUTS” is an impressive album for an artist at the age of 20. Hopefully, in the future, with experience and stumbles, Olivia Rodrigo will find her own style, no longer a continuation of “Sour” with a somewhat dreamy and rebellious purple color.

 

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