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From heartbreak to healing: Olivia Rodrigo’s “GUTS” unraveled

Rob Corder
Aliyah Shamatta writes about Olivia Rodrigo’s sophomore album “GUTS.”

In pop music, few artists have resonated with modern listeners on such a profoundly emotional level as Olivia Rodrigo does. With her new album, “GUTS,” the 19-year-old sensation invites us again into her world of heartache, soul-searching and personal growth. 

Riding on the heels of her first album “Sour,” which became a global phenomenon, “GUTS” is a bold statement from an artist who has swiftly become a voice of her generation. As we dive into this highly anticipated release, we find that Rodrigo’s ability to capture the complexities of youth, love and self-discovery is not just intact – it’s amplified in the form of early 2000s rock. 

This album starts off with a song that encompasses teenage rage which is the running theme throughout. Tapping into the sound of bratty-like grunge with songs like “All American B****” and “Get Him Back!” Rodrigo does not hold back in making sure the listeners know her place in the industry. She highlights different issues of life and emotions as an up-and-coming artist who is trying to live a normal life, while also being stuck in the spotlight. Dealing with emotions such as anxiety and heartbreak, multiple tracks off the album highlight feelings that everyone goes through, famous or not. 

Following her previous album, which featured one of her most renowned heartbreak anthems, “Drivers License,” Rodrigo treats us to two equally captivating piano ballads in her latest release. With “Logical” and “The Grudge,” she delves into the emotional complexities of believing you can fix your partner’s issues, only to find yourself wrapped up in disagreements. In these tracks, she expresses that “love is never logical,” while also grappling with the internal struggle of wanting to remain strong yet feeling the urge to scream at the ease with which someone can inflict pain through their actions; “I try to be tough, but I want to scream, how could anybody do the things you did so effortlessly?” Rodrigo gives us a relatable part of hearing from our friends that you can’t fix him but still trying to anyway.

As Rodrigo ventures further into her rock journey in the album, she remains committed to getting rid of the idea of being a celebrity while dealing with its potentially destructive nature. Since her last album, she confronted the challenges of fame under the scope of her relationships in real life and online, as well as finding herself strung into celebrity conflict as well. These situations are represented through a song such as “Making The Bed” where she expresses the feeling of “every night, I wake up from this one recurrin’ dream where I’m drivin’ through the city and the breaks go out on me.” This signifies feelings of not having control of how her life is going.

The album concludes with the track “Teenage Dream,” where Rodrigo reflects on her experience on the cusp of turning 19 and her struggle to muster excitement for what lies ahead in her life. While she makes an effort to stay positive, Rodrigo candidly admits, “I fear that they already got all the best parts of me,” hinting at the challenges of being in the spotlight at such a young age. This song serves as a testament to the anxieties that individuals approaching their twenties often face as the world expects them to excel in various aspects of life. Rodrigo masterfully conveys her message throughout the song, encapsulating the sentiments of those who have been told, “They all say that it gets better, it gets better, but what if I don’t?”

While drawing inspiration from artists like Avril Lavigne, this album is a testament to Olivia Rodrigo’s unique presence in the music industry. It strikes between gritty grunge rock and heartfelt ballads, marking a significant departure from the goody-two-shoes Disney image that initially introduced her to the world. Rodrigo connects with her audience through anthems that resonate with common human experiences, whether it’s receiving advice from friends against rekindling old flames or feeling the urge for revenge against those who’ve wronged us. Rodrigo forges her distinct path, proving that she’s a force to be reckoned with in her own right.

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About the Contributor
Aliyah Shamatta
Aliyah Shamatta, Multimedia: Visual and Technical Editor
Aliyah Shamatta is a senior from Parma, Ohio. They are a Communications major with a concentration in Digital Media and a double minor in Leadership development and Peace, Justice, & Human Rights. Around campus, you can find Aliyah being involved with WJCU as the Social Media Director, hosting their genre show “Do It For The B-sides”, and being a heights DJ. Other involvements include being in the Kappa Delta sorority, Orientation Leader, and a class of 2024 senator. From Halloween to horror, Aliyah loves anything that is spooky-related. Outside of school, you can find them taking daring adventures, playing video games, graphic design, and painting while watching the sunset. In their future, they want to work with companies' social media accounts and have a side broadcasting career.

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