Olivia Rodrigo’s highly anticipated sophomore album, GUTS, was released on September 8, 2023. The album, produced by Dan Nigro in New York City and Los Angeles, features pop-rock tracks, with punk sensibilities sprinkled throughout.
GUTS opens with “all american bitch”, a track that starts out as an acoustic guitar ballad, morphing into pop-rock when the chorus comes in. The lyrics deal with the expectations of being a woman in the public eye: “And I am built like a mother and a total machine/ I feel for your every little issue, I know just what you mean”. This line reflects on the expectation of musicians (specifically women) to constantly give new content that is relatable and a reinvention of what they were once before.
The second track was the second single released from this album “bad idea right?”. The song tells of seeing your ex even though you know it will be a poor decision and all of your friends are telling you so. What I love about this song the most is that you could drop it into the soundtrack for 10 Things I Hate About You or any late 90s,e arly 2000s rom-com, and it would fit perfectly.
“vampire”, the lead single of the record, started out the GUTS era strong. The song debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 100 and on the radio. The music video was recently recreated on the Video Music Awards ("VMA's") stage, where Rodrigo opened up her performance with the song. For those who haven’t seen the music video, it begins with Rodrigo performing, the set falling apart, and her being rushed off of stage. That exact sequence of events happened on stage at the VMAs, shocking the audience because it seemed so real.
On the song “lacy”, Rodrigo does background vocals, along with Chappell Roan. In her interview for Wired, Rodrigo said that this song started out as a poem for her poetry class. In this song, the lyrics discuss dealing with her feelings towards her insecurities and everything she feels she is not. It feels like a universal experience we all go through, which is what makes this song so relatable.
The third single of the album is “get him back!”. The music video was just released and completely filmed on an iPhone 15 Pro. The song plays on the words “get him back” as a double meaning: get back together or to get revenge. The song is extremely fun to listen and sing along to.
My personal favorite songs from the album are “love is embarrassing” and “the grudge”. The former tells the story of a common recurrence we have in our teen/young adult lives: “I'm planning out my wedding with some guy I'm never marrying/ I'm giving' up, I'm giving' up, but I keep coming' back for more”. It feels almost as if Rodrigo has written a song straight out of my diary. In my opinion, the latter track, “the grudge”, is the most heartbreaking song on this album. It grapples with feeling absolutely drained after a breakup and not having enough strength to forgive the person that hurt you.
“And I know, in my heart, hurt people hurt people
And we both drew blood, but, man, those cuts were never equal”
GUTS has instantly become a favorite album of mine. It gives a voice to so many of us trying to figure out how to grow up and the ups and downs of relationships and their aftermath. Following the success of her sophomore album, Olivia Rodrigo has announced the GUTS World Tour. Tickets go on sale next week and it is definitely going to be an amazing concert!
Listen to GUTS here.
View the GUTS World Tour dates here.