By Myra Mulongoti, Arts & Entertainment Editor
On Sep. 8, Olivia Rodrigo released her long-awaited sophomore studio album “GUTS.” Across 12 songs and 39 minutes, Rodrigo writes a Gen-Z pop/pop-punk soundtrack to the various woes of teenage years. The album’s prevalent lyrical themes include failed romantic relationships, social anxieties and social-media bred insecurities.
“I made the bulk of this album during my 19th year on this earth … A year that, for me, was filled with lots of confusion, mistakes, awkwardness & good old fashioned teen angst,” Rodrigo shared in a press statement prior to the release of the album.
The album has been received positively by fans and critics alike. Students on campus view the relatability of Rodrigo’s lyrics and themes as a main draw to the album.
Sophomore business administration major Joe Armstrong appreciated Rodrigo exploring her insecurities on the album, particularly on the song “pretty isn’t pretty.”
“I definitely relate to the album a lot, especially about the trouble of romantic relationships and insecurities surrounding that. She’s so real. I definitely feel like a teenage girl listening to her music. Like on the song “pretty isn’t pretty,” I definitely relate to comparing myself to other people and being, you know, perpetually dissatisfied with how I look,” Armstrong shared.
Echoing this sentiment, in an interview with “NYLON Magazine”, Rodrigo said of the song “In this time period, I was super obsessed with social media. I would look for things that would hurt my feelings all the time and compare myself to everyone … That’s a really troubling mindset to be in as a teenager.”
On the album, Rodrigo borrows a lot of imagery and sounds from the early 2000s pop-punk scene. This has been criticized as too derivative by some, but senior art therapy major Olivia Glusic appreciates Rodrigo’s interpretation of her influences.
“I think inspiration is important and I really like her sound even though it’s not particularly original. I appreciate that she uses references that have meaning to her to craft her own story. I don’t see that as a negative thing or think that takes away from her art in any way,” Glusic said.
Armstrong agreed with this sentiment.
“She’s got her own vibe. I definitely can understand the comparisons to Taylor Swift lyrically but I think she has her own thing going on and isn’t just directly replicating her influences,” Armstrong said.
Though having mostly positive views on the album, a common critique with students on campus was the lack of diversity in the soundscapes of the album.
“I think a lot of the songs do get mushed together. I think a lot of them have similar sounds or similar styles. When looking closely at the lyrics, I can see the differences but when you’re listening to them all together, they kind of get jumbled,” Glusic said.
When the album was first announced, Rodrigo fans expressed their disappointment at the album’s runtime of 39 minutes, viewing it as too short. Armstrong shared his views on this.
“I can understand wanting more. I wouldn’t really criticize the person for it, you know. But if that’s how long she wants the album to be, then that’s how long the album should be. I think she should be allowed to fulfill her creative vision. So, I wouldn’t really say it’s a bad thing,” he said.
In an interview with “Apple Music”, Rodrigo shared that she had approximately 25 songs written for the album but ultimately only 12 made the final cut. However, she did say of the songs that didn’t make it onto the tracklist, “I bet some of them will see the light of day [eventually].”
Students on campus gave “GUTS” an average rating of 8/10 and the most popular songs were “get him back”, “bad idea right?” and “all-american b****.” The album debuted at the top of the Billboard Album Chart and earned over 60 million first day streams on the global Spotify chart, making it the tenth biggest female album debut ever.