From 'All-American Bitch' to 'The Grudge,' here's everything to know about the inspirations behind Olivia Rodrigo's new songs
Olivia Rodrigo is spilling her guts with her sophomore album.
"Writing the first album, it just felt so spontaneous. I was 17 years old just pouring my heart out. This time I was in a different place and I was having a lot of pressure and a lot of expectations placed on me. I really had to try to block out the noise and just focus on the craft of songwriting," Rodrigo told Apple Music 1 about her creative process behind the new album.
"A lot of this album is about the confusion that comes with becoming a young adult and figuring out your place in this world. Figuring out who you want to be and who you want to hang out with and all of that stuff," she continued.
Keep scrolling for a breakdown of the most telling lyrics and what Rodrigo has teased about them.
Rodrigo has said Guts' opening track is a personal highlight for her. "It's one of my favorite songs I've ever written," Rodrigo previously told Zane Lowe. "I think it expresses something that I've been trying to express since I was 15 years old, this repressed anger and feeling of confusion or trying to be put into a box as a girl."
Speaking with PEOPLE, the High School Musical: The Musical: The Series alum said “All-American Bitch” was a song that actually started on the piano, but eventually evolved into an “intense rock song.” Its title was inspired by a line she read in a Joan Didion book.
“It comes from the essay that she wrote about hippies in San Francisco and running away from home,” she explained. “One of the runaways was talking about his mom back home and said that she was an 'all-American bitch.' I was like, ‘Wow, that’s so cool.’ It’s such a provocative set of words. I sat down the next day at the piano and wrote ‘All-American Bitch.’... You never know the trajectory a song is going to take.”
‘Bad Idea Right?’
Rodrigo’s second single from Guts is a fun song about knowing you should not contact your bad-news ex — but deciding to do it anyway.
“‘Bad Idea Right?’ started with us making a joke song about me hooking up with an ex-boyfriend, but then we realized we were actually onto something,” Rodrigo said in a statement about the track. “We were throwing the weirdest things at the wall — in one of choruses there’s a part that sounds like an instrument in the background, but it’s me gradually screaming louder and louder.”
According to a press release, the aesthetic for the "Bad Idea Right?" music video is "inspired by early-'90s B-movie horror-comedy." It chronicles Rodrigo's journey to an ex's home, which is equally harrowing and absurd and features her real-life friends Petra Collins, Madison Hu, Tate McRae and Iris Apatow.
During a later interview with Capital FM, Rodrigo confirmed there are multiple Easter eggs hidden throughout the music video, specifically at the end when she enters her ex’s bedroom. Fans later decoded that the Easter eggs, including a row of skateboards on the wall, a poster and a guitar case, featured song titles for additional tracks featured on Rodrigo’s Guts vinyl variants.
“Vampire” was the first single from the album, which Rodrigo said helped her “sort through lots of feelings of regret, anger, and heartache.” During an interview with Audacy’s The Julia Show Rodrigo expanded on the song’s meaning, noting that “Vampire” isn’t necessarily about someone using her stardom to climb the social ladder, despite what the lyrics say.
“I think the song isn’t about fame f---ing or whatever, I think it’s more about someone being manipulative and sucking you dry, using you for all your worth,” she said at the time. “I think that that’s a universal theme, and I also think fame is more easily accessible now than it has ever been. It’s not just people in L.A. and Hollywood that have to deal with that.”
Since its release, there has been a lot of speculation about who the song is about, from her recent exes Adam Faze and Zack Bia to other musicians in the industry. (PEOPLE confirmed that it is not about Faze.) “I never want to say who any of my songs are about. I’ve never done that before in my career and probably won’t,” Rodrigo said when asked about the song’s inspiration during an interview with The Guardian. “I think it’s better to not pigeonhole a song to being about this one thing.”
Though Rodrigo hasn’t expanded on “Lacy” as much as her other Guts tracks, many fans have paralleled the track’s themes to “jealousy, jealousy” from Sour. In the new song, Rodrigo seems to compare herself to another woman, with lyrics like, “Dazzling starlet, Bardot reincarnatе / Well, aren't you the greatest thing to ever exist?” By the end of the song, Rodrigo laments, “And I despise my jealous eyes and how hard they fell for you / Yeah, I despise my rotten mind and how much it worships you.”
‘Ballad of a Homeschooled Girl’
“Ballad of a Homeschooled Girl” definitely feels like “Brutal” 2.0 as Rodrigo (who was homeschooled herself) sings about the awkwardness of growing up, making mistakes and trying to find yourself with lyrics like, “I stumbled over all my words / I made it weird, I made it worse.”
One striking lyric that has sparked a conversation online is, “Everythin' I do is tragic / Every guy I like is gay.” In May 2021, Rodrigo's ex Joshua Bassett came out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, though he hasn’t put any label on his sexuality. "I am anti-coming out in the sense that there’s no need to," Bassett told GQ. “People are welcome to have boxes if they want them.”
‘Making the Bed’
In this thought-provoking ballad, Rodrigo seems to reflect on her whirlwind past few years and the struggles that came with the overnight fame, singing, “They tell me that they love me like I'm some tourist attraction / They're changin' my machinery and I just let it happen / I got the things I wanted, it's just not what I imagined.”
Speaking with Interview Magazine ahead of the album’s release, Rodrigo reflected on her meteoric rise to fame and how she felt “ill-equipped” for the media attention she received following the release of “Drivers License.”
"I feel like last time there was so much weird media s--- and I had no idea how to deal with any of it," Rodrigo said. "Literally, it was the first song out of the gate and all of that s--- happened. I felt so ill-equipped ... That was an overwhelming experience, but now I definitely feel a responsibility. I just try not to think about it during the writing process."
In “Logical,” Rodrigo seems to sing about a relationship gone wrong and how she ignored all the warning signs because she was in love. Many fans have connected the lyrics to her ex Zack Bia, as she references being “too young” for the lover and how she fell for them like “falls from the February sky.” Rodrigo and Bia notably had a seven-year age difference and they reportedly started dating in February 2022.
‘Get Him Back!’
Rodrigo’s “Get Him Back!” takes on a double meaning as the singer goes back and forth between wanting revenge on an ex and wanting him back in her life. “I wanna get him back/ Wanna make him really jealous, wanna make him feel bad,” she sings, before adding, “Oh, I wanna get him back / 'Cause then again, I really miss him and it makes me real sad.”
Speaking with Apple Music 1, Rodrigo admitted that she “had a total breakdown” in the studio before recording the track. “I was like, ‘God, I can’t write songs. I’m so bad at this,’ being really negative,” she explained. “Then, we took a break and we came back and we wrote ‘get him back!’ and it’s one of my favorite songs, so just goes to show you: never give up. It was super fun to write, I really like the chorus. It feels kind of sticky to me and feels like something I would want the crowd to sing.”
Though Rodrigo hasn’t confirmed the song’s inspiration, many fans have connected the song to her ex Faze as she references meeting a guy in the summer and leaving him in the spring; the duo were first linked in June 2021 and their breakup was confirmed in early 2022.
‘Love Is Embarrassing’
Rodrigo paints the perfect picture of what it’s like falling in love in your teens – mess and all. In the track, Rodrigo recalls telling her friends her past love was “the one,” only to have them break her heart when they moved on with someone else.
The second verse has certainly raised eyebrows, as fans think Rodrigo is referencing the drama that ensued between her, Bassett and Sabrina Carpenter following the release of “Drivers License.” “And I consoled you while you cried / Over your ex-girlfriend's new guy / My God, how could I be so stupid? / You found a new version of me / And I damn near startеd World War III,” she sings.
Rodrigo has since expressed that she “resented” the narrative that was tossed around following the release of “Drivers License.” "I put it out not knowing that it would get that reaction, so it was really strange [when] it did. I just remember [everyone being] so weird and speculative about stuff they had no idea about," she told Variety, before adding, "I don't really subscribe to hating other women because of boys. I think that's so stupid, and I really resent that narrative that was being tossed around."
In “Grudge,” Rodrigo seemingly sings about a person she once looked up to and how her perception of them was shattered when they betrayed her. “Your flower's filled with vitriol,” she sings. “You built me up to watch me fall / You have everything and you still want more.” While some have insinuated that the track is about a fellow musician in the industry, others have connected the song to their own experiences with a parent.
Rodrigo, however, has often noted that she has a close relationship with her parents, calling them her BFFs growing up. "I definitely have a lot of traits that I think I inherited from my family members,” she said on Disney Channel in 2017. “My parents, they’ve taught me how to be kind and respectful, and to always do the right thing.”
‘Pretty Isn’t Pretty’
In the emotional track, Rodrigo seems to detail her biggest insecurities and struggles with self-confidence as she sings, “When pretty isn't pretty enough, what do you do? / And everybody's keepin' it up, so you think it's you.” She adds that it’s even harder to keep up with appearances as magazines and social media warp her sense of self. “And I try to ignorе it, but it's everythin' I see,” she sings.
Rodrigo seamlessly connects her first two albums with the ending track “Teenage Dream,” which she previously made reference to in the opening track of Sour, titled “Brutal.” However, instead of asking, “Where's my f—--- teenage dream?” she reflects on years gone by, singing, “I'm sorry that I couldn't always be your teenage dream.”
Throughout the song, she once again grapples with her rise to superstardom, wondering if she’s already hit her peak at 19. “They all say that it gets better / It gets better the more you grow / Yeah, they all say that it gets better / It gets better, but what if I don't?” she asks in the bridge.
Speaking with PEOPLE, she noted “Teenage Dream” as one of her favorite tracks on the album. “It just depends on if I’m feeling in a dancey mood or a rage-y mood. But I’m very excited for this album to come out. It’s been a long time in the making, so it’s going to feel good,” she added about the next chapter of her career.
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Read the original article on People.