“Drivers License” Review

“Drivers License” has seen massive global success with teens and young adults.

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Rosalie Johnson

“drivers license” still sits at the top of Spotify’s “Global Top 50” playlist.

by Rosalie Johnson, Section Editor

Olivia Rodrigo, singer and star of Disney+’s “High School Musical: the Musical: the Series,” released her hit single “Drivers License” on January 8. The song broke multiple records, including “most streamed song in a week” on Spotify, “most requested song ever in one day on Alexa globally” on Amazon Music, and “the biggest first week streaming debut ever globally” on Amazon Music. Rodrigo’s debut single currently holds over 80 million views on YouTube.

Teens around the world have completely fallen for this emotional ballad that encapsulates the simultaneous heartbreak of a breakup and the excitement of receiving a driver’s license, something seen as a beginning step towards independence. “Drivers License” has created a space for teens to retreat to when they are in need of a place to simply feel and wallow in our worries and troubles. The rumored drama behind the song – with Rodrigo dating her co-star who then began dating a different Disney star – has also created a well-deserved space for teens to retreat to and forget about the exhaustion and complications of our modern day world and focus on the drama behind the scenes.

The depression that teens and young adults are enduring as a result of their concerns about their future, the isolation of the pandemic, and the stress of school is real; to this point, the pure pain and emotion of this song resonates all too well with kids around the globe. Though it was intentionally written for the purpose of surviving heartbreak, it has successfully initiated a movement within teens and pop culture that allows for a liberating release of the pain that has been built up over the course of the pandemic and the tension of America’s political climate.

Countdowns towards “Drivers License” were everywhere to be found on social media in the days and hours leading up to its release. The fact that it was sung by a modern Disney star led me to believe that, simply put, this would not be a good song; I figured it would be annoying, repetitive, and badly written.

However, when I grudgingly clicked on the music video (which already had 4 million views on YouTube), all of my negative assumptions instantaneously disappeared as I listened to Rodrigo’s smooth voice and watched her emotional facial expressions, completely understanding her pain despite never being heartbroken. The deliberate and heartfelt tune along with the visible pain behind this heartbreak further allows for listeners to empathize with Rodrigo and her struggle.

Her beautiful crescendo towards the famous lyric “I just can’t imagine how you could be so okay now that I’m gone” solidified and validated the intense feelings behind the song. At this point I wasn’t even feeling the heartbreak that Rodrigo was exuding; rather, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief, as if all of my fury and sadness throughout this pandemic and throughout the last devastating four years of America’s political tension, division and fear was finally being screamed through someone else’s voice, even though “Drivers License” surrounded the pain of a romantic loss.

“Drivers License” is an instant classic, a vibrant and cathartic song that teens and young adults will scream to on drives or while they are home alone for years to come.