“Red lights. Stop signs. I still see your face in the white cars, front yards...” Twas an echo that rang across the world. “Can’t drive past the places we used to go to… but I still f****** love you, babe.” A bridge that broke a million collective hearts and yet it was this powerful, soulful rise that made it such a visceral beast.
“drivers license” is undoubtedly the song that propelled Olivia Rodrigo to become the household name she is today. It’s just a brilliant strong piece of its accord, making us think back to those times when we were naive and young and had all those crazy feelings. And honestly, we still get chills down our spine whenever this song is played on the radio. It’s just one of those things, ya know!
At the age of 19, the singer/actress’ star is shining bright. Rodrigo is currently a lead in the “High School Musical” reboot on Disney+, having filmed 2 seasons and having third on the pipeline. Off course, she released her debut album, “SOUR”, to critical acclaim last year. It’s no surprise to see her name consistently on the charts. The nominations and awards have also been abounding with her snatching the “Best Female Artist” prize at the iHeartRadio Music Awards recently!
With “driving home 2 u (A Sour Film)”, Rodrigo gets candid about the process of getting “SOUR” made and takes a dreamy road trip from Salt Lake City to LA while she’s at it. Indeed, it’s the story of the young teenage soul and the expression of such. We get a portal into Rodrigo’s mind and her personal songwriting viewpoint along with the growth she experiences subsequently.
“I’ve always loved writing emotional songs. I’ve always been attracted to music that… hit these deep parts of the human psyche“, Olivia muses at the beginning of the film. “I think that being a songwriter is actually the best job and best craft. There’s nothing that is a truer window into human emotion than music.”
There’s nothing more important to an artist than the freedom to express. It’s part and parcel of a creative identity. Undoubtedly, emotions are always a deciding factor in how a certain tone is being presented. Here, Rodrigo explores the intensity of her own feelings and how they shaped the tracks, ambling across barren sands while she’s at it.
It’s not a secret that Rodrigo’s album is about sour feelings, the hardships of young love, of learning to love. “drivers license” in itself is a song about that feeling of heartbreak and betrayal. “good 4 u”, while downright upbeat, is has a petulant agony to it. “happier” exudes a one-sided passion for someone and it is unabashedly selfish. Rodrigo explores all of these bitter adolescent emotions through her music, bringing her sensibilities to the table. It’s not filtered in any way.
As a matter of fact, there is a certain authenticity that takes place in “driving home 2 u” and we love that. At one point during the “deja vu” segment, there are feelings of anxiety and insecurities that threaten to uproot her confidence prior to the release of the single. It’s never a smooth ride in making something work. And after the massive, humungous success of a debut single, how do you top that? How sure are you that people are going to like this next one? And the next, so on…
It’s great that Rodrigo talks about being honest with herself and her work. She opens up about the struggles of being a child performer where she felt as if she was getting all the praise because, yes, she was still young. She felt that without being honest, she could not spur herself forward. Thus, she looked within herself and her father for criticism and ways to improve. Soon, she also found solace in her songwriting collaborator and producer, Dan Nigro. His direct approach is something she appreciates and attributes as a massive influence on her own creative decisions.
Her songwriting sessions, filmed on a GoPro provide an inside look into that intimate world. Rodrigo and Nigro could either be cracking their heads, brainstorming and trying to find the right melody for a certain hook. But at the same time, it’s never tense and the duo does get goofy at points, which is where the fun element comes in. Magic also happens on the fly as per the case of the grungy shimmer of “brutal”, which she and Nigro write in a day.
Throughout the film, Rodrigo takes each song on her “SOUR” tracklist and provides insight into them, interpolating each segment with an alternative rendition whilst crossing states. Filmed across multiple stunning locations, Rodrigo and her team rock out under freeways, on sandy beaches, in abandoned locations, and in front of white lime.
Nonetheless, our favourite one has to be the “traitor” segment, an almost raw, looped version that Rodrigo does solo under the hood of a gas station. It’s not the most flawless, showing with some very slight timing disparities, but it’s the little imperfections like these that give rise to Rodrigo’s relatability. Having the camera on her focused visage as she attempts to get the flow right along with a 3-minute continuous tracking shot makes it one of the standout moments in the entire film.
By its end, there is a cathartic finale with the album’s completion. There are cheers and emphatic shouts in the studio where both Nigro and Rodrigo worked so hard for a year.
“I think we may have done it!“, as the singer breathes a sigh of relief. “I know, nothing will ever be the same“, Nigro chimes in.
Indeed, nothing will be the same for young Olivia, metaphorically, finally getting her driver’s license. She’s about to drive out there and share her music with the entire world. And the rest is history. Good 4 her! Keep going, gurl!
“Driving Home 2 U” is currently streaming on Disney+. Do check out our amazing interview with Olivia here too!
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driving home 2 u
"driving home 2 u" gives viewers and fans alike an honest behind the scenes look at teenage angst, insecurities, and the intimate expression of the phenomenal artist, Olivia Rodrigo.
- driving home 2 u Review