‘drivers license’ speeds to the top of the charts and hearts


Photo Courtesy Pexels

Photo by Caio from Pexels. “drivers license” is a song about a breakup.

Jessica Brite, news staff

At 17 years old, many teenagers across the country get their driver’s license. Singer and actress Olivia Rodrigo of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” did just that, earning her the ability to drive and, most importantly, inspiring a record-breaking debut single. 

The single, titled “drivers license,” tells a story of heartbreak from a failed relationship. Like many others on social media, some Northeastern students have fallen in love with the song, blasting it as an emotional release, while others felt it was rather ordinary. 

The heartfelt instrumentals and strong lyrics such as, “You said forever, now I drive alone past your street,” resonate with listeners.

“A vast majority of [Millennials and Gen Z] have had a similar experience, and that’s what makes music so enjoyable to listen to,” said Ingie Rabie, a first-year business administration and communication studies double major. “You’re able to connect with the artist in your own way through your own experience.”

The single was released Jan. 8, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart as well as the global charts. In the following two weeks, “drivers license” sold a million units, making it eligible for platinum certification. For artists of any standard, this is an impressive accomplishment — let alone a 17 year old with no prior solo discography. 

“I think she has a highly successful career ahead of her as a songwriter and performer and it’s kind of mindblowing how she has already made such a name for herself at only the age of 17,” said Sophie Weaver, a second-year communications and media and screen studies combined major. “In my opinion, she could very well be the next Taylor Swift.”

The single also broke several Spotify records, becoming the song with the most streams in a day for a non-holiday song and the most streams in a week. On social media, Rodrigo connected with artists she deemed idols, like Taylor Swift and Niall Horan. Both Swift and Horan shared their praise of “drivers license” with Rodrigo. 

Despite the statistical success, not everyone agrees that “drivers license” deserves to sit atop the charts. 

“While you can argue how the song is quite good, the song does not stand out enough to break many records held by notable top artists,” said Alex Moran, a second-year health science major. “TikTok and the drama surrounding the song are the clear reasons why this song broke so many records.”

Like many songs written about heartbreak, fans and social media users were quick to speculate who Rodrigo wrote the lyrics about. The leading theory is that they were written about “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” co-star Joshua Bassett, with the “blonde girl” referenced in the song being Sabrina Carpenter, Bassett’s rumored girlfriend. 

“People are so intrigued to find out what happened exactly by trying to dissect the lyrics and finding old interviews and old paparazzi shots between the two to try to piece together what happened,” Rabie said. 

Strengthening that theory is the recent release of Bassett’s single “Lie Lie Lie” and Carpenter’s single “Skin,” both of which have lyrical parallels to “drivers license.”

One way that the single gained traction was through TikTok. On Jan. 9, one day after the official release, Olivia Rodrigo posted a video, which garnered 35.9M views, promoting “drivers license” on her TikTok. 

“In recent times, TikTok has had a profound impact on the music industry; essentially if a song blows up on TikTok it will blow up in the same caliber, if not more, on the various music streaming services,” Weaver said. 

Currently, there are 1 million TikToks using the 20-second or 30-second audio clips of the song. The sound has taken over the “For You Page” of TikTok as users have been applying it to various trends like transition videos, meme covers and theory videos about the backstory behind the song. 

“TikTok helped tremendously with this song’s growth because the drama related to this song captured many people on TikTok,” said Kate Munoz, a first-year biology major. 

The drama, virality and powerful lyrics have all contributed to the huge success of the song. If this is any indication of her upcoming music, there is no doubt that Rodrigo will become a big name in the music industry.