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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Olivia Rodrigo’s “GUTS”: a funeral of the modern day teenage girl

Graphic: Clara Faulkner

I was eighteen when Olivia Rodrigo released her debut album “SOUR,” and I remember it vividly.

The album beautifully encapsulated the turbulent journey of navigating high school, obtaining a driver’s license, and transitioning into young adulthood—from going to homecoming dances to college frat parties. 

Now, two years later, Rodrigo has released her sophomore album: “GUTS.” 

With anticipation, I approached Rodrigo’s sophomore release harboring reservations that it might not attain the same legendary record-breaking status as “SOUR.” However, my skepticism was proven wrong. 

“GUTS” is a massacre to the teenage girl we all were when “SOUR” released.

“GUTS” masterfully intertwines Rodrigo’s personal growth and her present identity in a harmonious blend prominently featured in the inaugural track of her album, a spellbinding pop-rock composition titled “all-american bitch.”

The song’s opener sets the tone for the entire album, inviting listeners into Rodrigo’s world of emotions and experiences. As the narrative unfolds, it becomes apparent that this track is more than just music; it’s a glimpse into the songwriter’s innermost thoughts and struggles. The raw and unfiltered lyrics serve as a poignant testament to her journey of self-discovery and growth. 

The concluding verse of “all-american bitch” resonates most deeply with me. In these final verses, Rodrigo imparts a powerful message of self-affirmation, displaying a remarkable blend of vulnerability and strength. The lyrics, “I’m grateful all the time (Grateful all the fucking time) / I’m sexy, and I’m kind / I’m pretty when I cry,” encapsulate the essence of her personal transformation, and in a way mine.

Rodrigo’s message is often one of self-reassurance, and the standout ballad on the album called “the grudge” serves as a lyrical masterpiece. In this track, Rodrigo skillfully delves into her feelings of harboring a grudge toward someone.

The pop star openly admits her tendency to uphold an illusive, public facade while simultaneously recognizing the internal battle she faces in trying to fully conceal these emotions. The lyrics, “Trust that you betrayed, confusion that still lingers / Took everything I loved and crushed it in between your fingers / And I doubt you ever think about the damage that you did,” serve as a poignant reflection of the teenage experience—a perpetual journey of nurturing the love we hold both within ourselves and for others.

The brilliance of Olivia Rodrigo lies in her unique ability to take relatable, everyday experiences and transform them into extraordinary punk-rock vibes and a powerful instrumental arrangement.

The use of punk elements adds an edginess and rawness to her narrative storytelling during tracks like “ballad of a homeschooled girl” and “love is embarrassing.”

Similarly, the strong, driving instruments in the stand-out song “get him back” propel the listener into a world of heightened intensity, as if the everyday struggles and triumphs of romance she sings about are being played out on a grand stage. 

What sets “get him back” apart on the album is its special satirical quality. Rodrigo’s lyrics in this song take on a clever and tongue-in-cheek quality, adding a layer of wit and humor to her exploration of a tumultuous relationship. 

Lines like “Wanna kiss his face (But then I, I want to get him back) / With an uppercut (But then I, I want to get him back) / I wanna meet his mom (But then I, I want to get him back) / Just to tell her her son sucks (But then I, I want to get him back)” playfully capture the contradictory and sometimes irrational nature of love and desire. 

This satirical twist not only showcases Rodrigo’s lyrical prowess but adds a unique and memorable dimension to the album, making “get him back” a standout track that combines emotional depth with a touch of sardonic charm.

Rodrigo’s album explores a wide range of emotional themes, but one track that delves into the complex realm of jealousy among women is “lacy.” In this song, Rodrigo skillfully paints a vivid picture of her feelings of resentment towards a person named Lacy—a powerful and often unspoken emotion within human relationships.

Listening to “lacy,” it’s impossible not to be transported back to those tumultuous teenage years comparing oneself to that one person who seems to effortlessly possess everything you desire. 

The lyrics in “lacy,” such as “oh Lacy, skin like puff pastry / Aren’t you the sweetest thing on this side of Hell?” exemplify Rodrigo’s vivid storytelling prowess. Here, she paints a striking visual of Lacy, juxtaposing her external sweetness with an allusion to a darker side, suggesting that beneath the surface, there may be complexities or insecurities that Rodrigo grapples with.

Grappling with the traits of being a teenage girl and having your teenage castle fall down as you enter your twenties is perfectly encapsulated by the last song on the album, “teenage dream,” a homage to who she was then and who she wants to become in the future.

It’s a reflection on the traits and experiences of being a teenage girl and the bittersweet realization that the teenage castle of dreams and illusions starts to crumble as one enters the uncertain terrain of adulthood. She tells her story through the lyrics “I’ll blow out the candles, happy birthday to me / Got your whole life ahead of you, you’re only nineteen / But I fear that they already got all the best parts of me /And I’m sorry that I couldn’t always be your teenage dream.” 

Rodrigo’s introspective lyrics convey the longing for the simplicity and idealism of romance through her youth, while also acknowledging the inevitability of growth and change as an adult. As the album concludes, Rodrigo leaves listeners with a sense of hope and anticipation for the future. 

“GUTS” is a heartfelt homage to the contemporary teenage girl, celebrating her unwavering determination to carry the dreams of the past into the possibilities of the future. 

The discography stands as a reminder that while Rodrigo’s teenage years may have concluded, the dreams and aspirations cultivated during that time can persistently shape her identity. Just as I have evolved through life, love, and romance, “GUTS” emphasizes the enduring influence of youthful dreams, illuminating a path that continues to inspire and guide us forward.

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About the Contributor
Clara Faulkner, Managing Editor and Living Arts Editor
Clara Faulkner holds dual roles at the Beacon, serving as both the Business Director and the Living Arts Editor. Before taking up these positions, she showcased her expertise as an assistant editor, specializing in living arts—a field she is deeply passionate about, driven by her love for pop culture and entertainment. Aside from her editorial work, Clara actively engages in multiple campus organizations, including SPJ, CPLA, WECB, and AEPHI. Moreover, she takes on the role of marketing director at Emertainment. Beyond her writing endeavors, Clara delves into the realms of culinary exploration, cinematic indulgence, and language acquisition, constantly seeking new experiences and knowledge.

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