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‘Drivers License’ evokes empathy among listeners

Olivia Rodrigo, who famously starred in the hit Disney+ show “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” released her debut single “Drivers License’’ on Jan. 8, 2021. The song follows the story of a newly licensed girl who wanted to use said license to visit her boyfriend. However, as the song continues, listeners learn of the singer’s heartbreak as she aches for her boyfriend who left her for “that blonde girl.” The song became an overnight hit, leading teenagers around the world to sing along and empathize.

Just three days after its release, “Drivers License” broke the record for most streams in a day for a non-holiday song on Spotify. The debut single continued to break the record for the most requested song ever on Alexa globally and had the most successful debut week ever on Amazon Music. Rodrigo’s debut single became number one on Billboard’s Global 200, surpassing the likes of “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd, which had been on Billboard’s Top 5 for 28 consecutive weeks.

“Despite the fact that ‘Drivers License’ is about a rather typical high-school heartbreak, it carries more emotional weight than other songs due to the well-written chord progression and powerful vocal performance that work in harmony to pull the heartstrings of the listener,” said senior Orion Solomon. “This song stands out to me because it incorporates some surprising chords and vocal effects that cause it to stand out in the realm of pop music.”

Solomon, along with YouTubers, like Tristan Paredes, John Denton and Steven In Stereo, approached the song in a more analytical way, analyzing the chord progression and the songwriting instead of the feeling the song evokes. Music producers on YouTube reacted positively to the song and seemed to have a common opinion that “Drivers License” was excellently written, defying the norm in the music industry today.

“I feel like so many girls can relate,” said junior Finley Little. “I personally know the feeling of heartbreak. I also love the melody of the song. It’s a great song to listen to in the car.”

Along with the unique songwriting, “Drivers License” provokes many listeners, including Little, to empathize with the songwriter over the heartbreak and raw emotion of the lyrics and melody. Even for those who haven’t experienced breakups or heartbreak, the song has a relatable feeling of loss in almost every situation, regardless of relationship status.

“I haven’t been in love or anything, so I related to it in a different way,” said sophomore Grace Cassa. “I thought about how it’s hard to move on from things that caused pain. I went through some rough friendships, so when I listen to the song, it reminds me that it’s tough to go through it, but you can move on.”


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