Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘Drivers License’ Is on the Road to Success

Entering the new year, many people held low expectations of what January would entail, yet nobody could have predicted the production of 2021’s official heartbreak anthem, “Drivers License,” let alone the rising popularity of the artist behind the song: 17-year-old Disney star Olivia Rodrigo. 

With 76.1 million streams in its opening week, Rodrigo’s song debuted at no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and broke several records, including Spotify’s record for global streams for a non-holiday song in one day, according to the New York Times. 

Before the release of her debut single, Rodrigo was only familiar to those who followed her acting career on Disney television shows. She is most notable for her starring role as Nini Salazar-Roberts on the Disney+ series “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” in which she wrote and sang the show’s top hit, “All I Want.” 

Her journey as a singer began at age four when she performed at local talent competitions in her hometown of Temecula, California. Since then, she has pursued her passion for singing and also began dabbling in songwriting, frequently posting snippets of her original songs on Instagram.

One of these one-minute clips included what is now known as “Drivers License.” Inspired by her own experience as a teenager finally getting her drivers license, Rodrigo tells a story of how this particular moment, a celebration for many, turned into a painful reminder of her past love. 

The muse of the car is common in the music industry. However, Rodrigo’s ability to share her story through relatable lyrics like “I just can’t imagine how you could be so okay now that I’m gone” evokes a certain sadness that aches the listener’s heart. 

Her tense tone accompanied by a soft piano ballad in the first verses immediately captivates the audience, but it’s the emotionally-alleviating bridge that brings ultimate satisfaction by the end. Her breathy vocals and wails of misery perfectly capture Rodrigo’s pinnacle moment of unleashing all of her pent-up anger and frustration toward whoever broke her heart.

“Before the song came out, I was expecting it to be moderately successful, so maybe somewhere in the 50s of the Hot 100 charts,” Rodrigo superfan and freshman Tara Vatandoust said. “But I had no idea that it would rank number one.” 

To top it all off, Rodrigo has been recognized by several celebrities on Instagram including Joe Jonas, Hailey Bieber and Lucy Hale. 

One day after the song released, she even earned praise from Taylor Swift — a huge inspiration and mother figure for Rodrigo. On an Instagram post by Rodrigo showing a screenshot of “Drivers License” on the charts right below Swift’s songs, Swift commented by reiterating the words her own mother once said to her: “I say that’s my baby and I’m really proud.”

Rodrigo’s highly-anticipated debut EP is set to be released in late spring according to an i-D interview.