- Olivia Rodrigo's debut single "Driver's License" propelled her to unprecedented success with over 15 million streams in one day, becoming the quickest song to surpass 100 million streams.
- With numerous Grammy nominations and a multitude of accolades, Rodrigo solidified her status as Gen Z's "Queen of Pop", fostering a deep connection with listeners during the pandemic.
- Rodrigo's musical career has been influenced by artists like Taylor Swift and Gracie Abrams, and despite setbacks and plagiarism accusations, she has achieved immense success, with millions of views and a string of awards.
Olivia Rodrigo’s rise to fame could easily be seen as a hypersonic journey from Disney Channel star to one of the most popular pop stars of all time.
Rodrigo has been transformed into a music icon throughout the last few years. Music fans were apparently unfamiliar with Rodrigo until she released her debut single “Driver’s License.” The emotionally charged song reached groundbreaking success – with over 15 million streams in just one day.
Ultimately, “Driver’s License” turned out to be the quickest song to surpass 100 million streams. Her journey to being a Grammy-winning sensation is a story that involves unparalleled talent combined with her steadfast passion for music.
Who Olivia Rodrigo Really Is
Olivia Rodrigo is a singer-songwriter who started her career in the entertainment industry at a young age. She got her first break when she was cast in a commercial for Old Navy at the age of 12.
The following year, she made her debut on the Disney show titled Bizaardvark as a guitar player named Paige Olvera. In 2019, Rodrigo further cemented her standing in the world of entertainment when she landed a big role as Nini Salazar-Roberts on High School Musical: The Series.
From there, she used her acting background and her popularity on Disney to advance her musical career. This was the same stepping stone used by stars like Miley Cyrus, Hillary Duff, and Selena Gomez. In 2020, she signed her first record label deal, and the following year, she released her life-changing single titled “Driver’s License."
A Musical Journey To Fame
With numerous Grammy nominations at the tender age of 20, there’s no question as to why this rising icon is so popular and is touted as Gen Z’s “Queen of Pop.” As of 2021, Rodrigo’s popularity rose to new heights and stayed there.
The release of “Driver’s License” sent the internet into a mania that most would have never imagined. From a hint of nostalgia to unmistakable vocals, she was able to foster a much-needed connection with listeners during the first wave of the pandemic.
Her influence became even more apparent when she garnered two number one hits (which included “Driver’s License”), streams amassing in the billions, and a multitude of Grammy nominations. Throughout 2021, Rodrigo continued to score accolades – including TIME’s Entertainer of the Year and Billboard’s Woman of the Year.
She was also featured on the cover of nearly every pop culture magazine, cementing her status as an artist to watch.
A Nod From Taylor Swift
Rodrigo has described herself as one of Taylor Swift’s biggest fans. She covered some of Taylor Swift’s big hits – recordings which were welcomed by the “Shake It Off” singer, who praised her talents.
Her song “Deja Vu” was inspired by Swift’s track “Cruel Summer.” When Rodrigo earned her first number one, Swift congratulated her.
Why “Driver’s License” Is So Popular
The breakout hit “Driver’s License” tells the story of a high school relationship that went south. With lyrics somewhat reminscent of Taylor Swift's, the song is much more than just someone lamenting the way in which their ex-partner moved on.
At its center, the song demonstrated an unmistakable quality that drew in listeners of all age groups and backgrounds. According to Esquire.com, Rodrigo's “Driver’s License” was Gen Z's version of Swift's millennial anthem “You Belong to Me."
Amazon boasted that “Driver's License” was “the most requested song ever in one day on Alexa” – meanwhile, Apple indicated that the track “was the most-played song in the world" on Apple Music. Rodrigo said, “It's resonating with people because of how emotional it is, and I think everything else is not important.”
Rodrigo’s musical career has been influenced by a number of artists, mainstream and independent. She’s clearly inspired by Taylor Swift – whom she has looked up to since she was 5 years old, and claims that she wouldn’t have grown into the songwriter she is today had she not been inspired by Swift.
Another big inspiration for Rodrigo is indie pop star Gracie Abrams, who opened for her on the Sour Tour.
Setbacks And Comebacks
Rodrigo’s musical journey hasn’t been without some setbacks and contention. In some instances, she was even accused of plagiarism.
Social media users across Twitter and TikTok compared Rodrigo’s hit single “Good 4 U” to Paramore's song titled “Misery.” Eventually, the members of Paramore were issued a songwriting credit. When it comes to “Cruel Summer” by Taylor Swift, Rodrigo admitted that it influenced her “Deja Vu” single from Sour.
Fortunately, the accusations against Rodrigo haven’t stopped the pop star from achieving success. She has many accolades under her belt – including the Billboard Artist 100 Chart, a Grammy Award for Best New Artist, an MTV Music Award for Song of the Year, a Billboard Music Award for Top New Artist, and a Juno Award for Best International Album of the Year.
The Role Of TikTok
TikTok has become a major recruiting tool in the music industry, and the platform played a role in the success of “Driver’s License.” Rodrigo showcased the song on TikTok – where she spoke about obtaining her driver’s license in real life, the anguish blended with the experience, and the emotional upheaval involved.
Fans were encouraged by Rodrigo to revel in emotion and the moment, and they happily obliged. As of 2021, there were more than one million TikTok posts with the “Driver’s License” audio – and as of September 2023, the YouTube video for the song racked up an astounding 474.3 million views.