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The Student News Site of Rock Ridge High School


The Student News Site of Rock Ridge High School


The Student News Site of Rock Ridge High School


“GUTS:” Olivia Rodrigo’s Newest Self-Loathing Record is a Means of Catharsis

Released on Sept. 8, “GUTS” is a 39-minute contemplation of adulthood, displaying Rodrigo’s witty songwriting and ensuring her emotional acuity.
Ananya Karthik
Rodrigo showcases her stellar lyrics and 2000s-inspired production in “GUTS.”

Olivia Rodrigo is seething. And she’s showing it with shimmering electric guitar chords and poignant lyrics in her sophomore album, “GUTS.” Two years after the release of her debut album, “SOUR,” Rodrigo delivers a sophisticated and sonically cohesive sound, along with classic pop-punk teen angst in “GUTS.” On the brink of 21, Rodrigo unravels the raw complexity of being a teenager and deals with the dejecting feeling of growing up. 

Released in 2021 after Rodrigo’s hit debut single, “drivers license,” “SOUR” brought Rodrigo seven Grammy nominations and three wins, including “Best Pop Vocal Album” and “Best Pop Solo Performance.” It was also critically acclaimed universally by critics, especially for its lyrical appeal to teenagers and Gen Z. So, naturally, expectations were high for “GUTS.” And Rodrigo did not disappoint. 

“GUTS” picks up right where “SOUR” left off — the opening track, “all-american b****,” presents Rodrigo as the perfect, idealized girl sarcastically, with lyrics like, “I got class and integrity” and “I know my age, and I act like it,” which references common critiques young women receive and the sky-high expectations set for them in the music industry. Rodrigo’s unexpected fame at 18 led to enormous pressure and unsolicited criticism attacking her from every side. These themes of constant pressure are ever-present throughout the album, like in “making the bed,” where Rodrigo self-deprecatingly sings, “I’m so tired of being the girl that I am,” and “I’m playing the victim so well in my head.” The chorus repeats, “But it’s me who’s been making the bed,” alluding to the phrase, “Make your bed and lie in it,” which reinforces the idea of suffering the consequences of one’s actions. 

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However, between emotional ballads like “making the bed” and “logical,” songs like “bad idea right?” and “get him back!” show Rodrigo’s fun side with equally sophisticated songwriting, revealing normal experiences of teenagers, like fighting the urge to go back to someone who was never good for you. Rodrigo proves an expert at hiding heart-wrenching lyrics behind a pop-rock beat, as heard in “pretty isn’t pretty,” where Rodrigo candidly laments, “Fix the things you hated, and you’d still feel so insecure,” and “I chased some dumb ideal my whole life.” 

In “GUTS,” Rodrigo constantly seems to be wondering why this phase of adulthood isn’t as fun as one would expect. This is an ever-lingering feeling for her, even in “SOUR,” when the manifestation of getting her driver’s license as a teenager simply isn’t the romantic idea she envisioned. She challenges Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” in the last track of “GUTS,” also named “teenage dream.” Rodrigo asks questions throughout the song, contemplating the reality of growing up under society’s mold of the perfect, squeaky-clean teenager, as she sings, “When am I gonna stop being wise beyond my years and just start being wise?” 

However, the song, and album, ends with a question that encapsulates the entirety of the “GUTS:” “They all say that it gets better, it gets better the more you grow; they all say that it gets better, it gets better, but what if I don’t?” Rodrigo is scared of growing up, and so is her audience. Perhaps the most important reason why her albums are highly acclaimed is because everybody resonates with her fears and hopes but they don’t know how to express them. 

“GUTS” and Rodrigo, serve as a voice for generations, but most of all, the album is cathartic for Rodrigo herself. She’s learning to deal with life, and we can only hope to learn alongside her.

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About the Contributor
Ananya Karthik
Ananya Karthik, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Ananya is a junior, and joined The Blaze staff  in her sophomore year. She is currently the Arts and Entertainment Editor, and she loves writing articles about events occurring in Rock Ridge. Her love of reading and writing, which began when she was little, only grew as she got older, and she quickly gained an interest in writing reviews. Now, she hopes to pursue a career or profession in journalism. In her free time, Ananya likes to watch TV shows, her favorite being Gilmore Girls, listen to Harry styles, and keep up with pop culture news on Instagram and Facebook.

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    Maddie NymanSep 22, 2023 at 5:43 pm

    Another amazing article from the amazing Ananya Karthik!!!!