If you've been scrolling through TikTok, you've probably already heard the song "Drivers License." The new track, that set a Spotify record for most streams in a day for a non-holiday song, is the singer Olivia Rodrigo's debut single.
If you're asking, "Who is Olivia Rodrigo?" you're not alone. So we're doing a deep dive into this singing-songwriting wunderkind and why Taylor Swift is calling her "baby."
Who is Olivia Rodrigo?
The 17-year-old California actor and singer first rose to prominence on the Disney Channel show "Bizaardvark" where she played the role of Paige Olvera for three seasons. From there, she was cast in the lead role of Nini Salazar-Roberts in the Disney+ series "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series," a TV show following a group of high schoolers putting on a production of "High School Musical." (Meta!)
"'High School Musical' is just such a fun project, it's so fun to work on and it's so fun to watch just as a viewer," she told Glamour UK last year of the project. "I think that the stories we tell are so important, and I think the visibility that we shed on people of color and the LGBTQ+ community is amazing and so overdue. At the end of the day, it's just really a story about kids and camaraderie and a love for theater. And I think that there's nothing better than that. It makes me happy just thinking about it."
In 2020, Rodrigo signed with Interscope Records and Geffen Records. She cites Taylor Swift and Lorde as her biggest inspirations, as well as the "Twilight" soundtrack.
“It's definitely a contender," she told ID. "I'm also in love with Taylor Swift’s 'Red' and Lorde’s 'Pure 'Heroine.' Funnily enough, those were actually the first two albums I bought on vinyl when I was around 11 years old. I would dance around my room to them all the time. I listened to them so much and had the track lists memorized. Even today, Lorde and Taylor are my biggest inspirations.”
What do fans think "Drivers License" is about?
On. Jan. 8, Rodrigo released the debut single to her forthcoming EP that she co-wrote with Dan Nigro, former lead singer and guitarist of the band "As Tall As Lions." Titled "Drivers License," the track's emotional content paired with the powerful vocals were hailed by music critics and fans alike.
“When I came up with ‘Drivers License,’ I was going through a heartbreak that was so confusing to me, so multifaceted,” Rodrigo said in a press release. “Putting all those feelings into a song made everything seem so much simpler and clearer — and at the end of the day, I think that’s really the whole purpose of songwriting. There’s nothing like sitting at the piano in my bedroom and writing a really sad song. It’s truly my favorite thing in the world.”
"Drivers License" soon became the most streamed non-holiday song on Spotify in one day, with 15.17 million global streams on Jan. 11, according to CNN. It then broke its own record with over 17 million streams on Jan. 12.
"But in my experience — and as a team we were just discussing this earlier — we’ve never seen anything like this, where you do have a newer artist that just comes out of the gate in such a dominant way, and just continues to grow," Spotify's global hits lead Becky Bass told Billboard.
"I mean, we were like, 'Whoa, these first day numbers are huge!' And then they were bigger the second day, bigger the third day … so it really feels unprecedented, and likely is unprecedented."
On Friday, Jan. 15, Rodrigo shared video of herself hearing the track on the radio for the first time. By Tuesday, Jan. 19, the song debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100.
Fans have speculated that the song is about Rodrigo's rumored relationship with her "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series," co-star Joshua Bassett. TikTok user Kaiya Olsen broke down the contents of "Drivers License," explaining various lyrics and what the meaning behind them could be.
Of course, to only add to the speculation, Bassett released his own song on Jan. 15 titled “Lie Lie Lie.” The song seemingly responds to the accusations made in "Drivers License," much to the delight of fans who are living for the drama.
What does Taylor Swift think?
Despite all the accolades and broken records, probably the most exciting thing for Rodrigo to come out of the success of "Drivers License" is having the stamp of approval from one person: Taylor Swift.
After sharing news that the song was trailing behind Swift's singles on iTunes, Swift commented on the post, writing, "I say that's my baby and I'm really proud."
"I was dead asleep and my friend called me on the phone and I was like, 'Oh my God, it's 6 a.m. Can I call you back in two hours?' And he's like, 'No. Absolutely not. Check your Instagram right now,'" she told Zane Lowe. "In the grogginess of my sleep, I checked my phone and she commented on my photo and I just about died ... literally, I've looked up to her as long as I can remember, so it was so sweet of her to do that.
"I’ve never met her in person, but I posted a cover of one of her songs off of 'Lover' — 'Cruel Summer' — like a year ago, and I did it on Instagram Live and she found it and she posted it on her story and was like, 'This is amazing. Thank you so much,'" she also told Lowe. "And I screamed my head off, I was so excited."
It seems like this is only the beginning of very exciting things to come for the 17-year-old singer and songwriter.