Why and How Olivia Rodrigo is Redefining Music for Young Women

Olivia Rodrigo

Olivia Rodrigo is redefining music for young women, and this is why.

American singer-songwriter and actress Olivia Rodrigo is transporting young women in their 20s back to their teenage years through powerful new music that resonates with anyone born in the 90s-2000s. There has been no other artist who has made a girl in her 20s feel like a teenager than Olivia Rodrigo has.

The Filipino-American grew up in Temecula, California and was born half-deaf in her left ear. Her musical career began in kindergarten when she started taking vocal lessons and started learning piano not long after.

Olivia Rodrigo playing the piano. Image via Pinterest
Olivia Rodrigo playing the piano. Image via Pinterest.

The 20-year-old artist and actress was previously known for her Disney debut as Paige Olvera on Bizaardvark at 13 years old.

She continued with Disney playing the lead Nini in one of Disney’s most celebrated shows, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. And in 2021, she debuted her first record, ‘SOUR’.

The three Grammy Awards, seven Billboard Music Awards, and four MTV Video Music Awards make it common knowledge that Olivia Rodrigo has been wildly talented since the release of her debut album, ‘SOUR’ and HSMTMTS. 

She grew up listening to some of her parent’s favourite alt-rock music, such as Pearl Jam, No Doubt and Green Day, which we can see in her music now.

With only one song, she achieved what could only be described as an overnight musical success, which is rare in the modern music industry. 

After signing with Geffen and Interscope Records in 2020, she released her lead single, ‘drivers license’, off her debut album ‘SOUR’. Which broke Spotify records in 24 hours and then again seven days later when it hit number one on the UK and US charts. 

Olivia Rodrigo posing with a poster of her debut album 'SOUR'. @oliviarodrigo via Instagram.
Olivia Rodrigo posing with a poster of her debut album ‘SOUR’. @oliviarodrigo via Instagram.

Her debut album, achieving four more chart hits, earned her three Grammy Awards and an impressive career. Her pop-rock renaissance has changed the way young women listen to music forever. 

Olivia draws inspiration from some of the most iconic artists of all time, including Fiona Apple, The Killers, Lorde, The White Stripes and Taylor Swift. She writes all her songs, with some alongside producer-songwriter Daniel Nigro.

Olivia has all the girls in their 20s feeling like Lindsay Lohan in Freaky Friday. 

She has perfected lyricism for young women to feel safe with their feelings through music. Not only has she redefined music, but she has also created a community that supports all women. Her Glastonbury debut in 2022, was one of her career highlights. 

She brought British pop icon Lily Allen on stage and took a moment to discuss the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, meaning the right to abortion access in America was revoked. This is just one of many unforgettable things she has done during her musical career.

Olivia has just released her sophomore album, ‘GUTS’, and it’s already breaking records and getting impressive recognition. ‘GUTS’ has become the 20-year-old’s second No.1 album with nearly 100 million streams, becoming the fourth-largest opening week for any album in 2023. 

The album cover of Olivia Rodrigo's sophomore album 'GUTS'.
The album cover of Olivia Rodrigo’s sophomore album ‘GUTS’. @oliviarodrigo via Instagram.

A year ago, Olivia released her first album. Now, with her second album, there’s no doubt she is one of the many female artists expressing the female experience to perfection. With a perfect mix of screaming in your car songs to crying in your bedroom on a Friday night, her music is undoubtedly relatable.  

With elements of 90s and 2000s pop rock, it’s easy to feel transported to the younger days of jamming out to Avril Lavigne and Alanis Morissette in your childhood bedroom.

Her music mashes up genres and experiments with rock and ballads. She has her fair share of slow, ballad songs about feeling used and thinking about old friends, to full-on guitar and drums perfectly accompanying her rock voice in break-up anthems.

Olivia with her Official Number 1 Music award from Official Charts.
Olivia with her Official Number 1 Music award from Official Charts. @oliviarodrigo via Instagram.

Being a teenage girl can be difficult, and there are too many emotions even to begin to explain what it can feel like, but Olivia does it perfectly through her lyrics and music. The album is filled with all the new teenage girl anthems. 

From teenage jealousy and envy with her song ‘lacy’ to wanting to get revenge on your ex-boyfriend even though you miss him and want him back, with the pop-punk perfection ‘get him back!’, Olivia has written it all. 

The revival of bedroom break-up songs has changed how women listen to music. Girls are so often dehumanised for just enjoying things and having hobbies, and Olivia has given women a powerful way to address it. 

Olivia writes music that is universally relatable to young women but still makes it personal to her own experience. Her music is a perfect layer of piano balladry and pop-rock with elements of grunge and melodrama. 

She addresses many things young women go through, like remarks about how you look, feeling uncomfortable in your own body and the most fun of them all, breakups. 

Though her music screams nostalgia, she has found a way to make her music modern by reminding listeners of the idea of adolescence and her teenage relatability of “Searchin’ ‘how to start a conversation?’ on a website” from ‘ballad of a homeschooled girl’, or telling Rolling Stones Magazine “I have my four friends and my mom, and that’s really the only people I talk to, ever.”

Olivia Rodrigo on Instagram
@oliviarodrigo via Instagram.

Her relatability is one of the most defining features of her music. The way she can speak to and connect with women universally will continue to stay memorable throughout her whole career. 

Amber Grech
Amber Grech

Writer and Video Producer

Amber is a writer and content producer who has a passion for reading, films and collecting vinyl records. You’ll can always find her with a book in hand, or with her headphones on, listening to her favourite music and podcasts. She loves all things entertainment and pop culture, especially movies, actors and books. It’s always been a dream of her's to work with actors and write about them, their work and travel the world.

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