Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

GUTS-y Fans Leave a SOUR Taste

Olivia Rodrigo’s new album “GUTS,” released Sept. 8, 2023, has been received incredibly well by fans and critics alike, with Pitchfork giving the album an 8.0/10 and Metacritic’s score standing at a 91/100. However, despite the good reception of the album, fans have been quick to (once again) claim that Olivia Rodrigo has taken from other artists. On her song “All-American Bitch,” some have claimed the melody is eerily similar to Miley Cyrus’ “Start All Over.”

These types of claims are nothing new when it comes to Olivia Rodrigo’s music. On her first album “Sour,” Rodrigo was accused of stealing from other female artists. “deja vu” was claimed to have stolen from Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer,” and people were quick to notice the similar melodies in both “good 4 u” and Paramore’s  “Misery Business.” 

Simply put, we should not care at all about any of these “controversies.” Pop music has its ear candy potential because it has cooked down what makes music enjoyable into a formula. They follow similar chord progressions, use similar keys and God forbid a pop song use anything other than 4/4 meter. And if that isn’t a good enough argument, find me a song with an entirely unique chord progression that has NEVER been used before or after. I’ll wait. 

With such tight parameters, it’s shocking that we don’t see people complaining about repetitive songs more often. What specifically makes people care about things like this? Credit to artists? Or does this have to do with something specific about how Olivia Rodrigo came about?

Olivia Rodrgio first burst onto the scene through TikTok virality with her hit single “driver’s license.” The song propelled up the charts, spending 8 weeks as the #1 song on Billboard’s Hot 100. As her first independent single, Rodrigo’s seemingly instant success bothered people. She immediately followed it up with “deja vu,” which debuted at #8 on Billboard’s Hot 100, rising and peaking at #3. But she wasn’t done there, releasing “good 4 u,” debuting at #1, but then fell thereafter. 

After seemingly appearing out of nowhere, people were quick to doubt Rodrigo’s ability to write each of these songs entirely on her own. Claiming that these songs sounded similar, consumers put immense pressure on Rodrigo. After receiving this criticism, Olivia Rodrigo gave Taylor Swift and Paramore retroactive writing credits and 50% of streaming royalties on each of “deja vu” and “good 4 u.” The only issue with this is that neither of those artists were involved in the making of these songs. 

I have always been bothered by how people have discredited Olivia Rodrgio as an artist seemingly just due to her “overnight success.” Our society also places such a stigma on pop music due to our obsession with listening to “underground” or “niche” artists. Big artists are discredited as being handed everything, but a majority of the time we never see the work that goes into these artists making what they do.

Ignoring the fact that these songs are just of the same genre, it seems odd that Rodrigo has been hit by so many of these claims, especially since I have yet to hear of claims like these with other pop stars like Charlie Puth or Shawn Mendes. Even though these artists also emerged out of seemingly nowhere, they have not been discredited the way Olivia Rodrigo has been.

The truth is, society LOVES to pit women up against each other. Whether it’s in the music industry or the acting industry, there is a constant battle for who will be the “queen of _____.” I cannot think of a single time where a male artist has risen out of the blue and been completely discredited and treated as if they have no originality or talent. Personally, The Weeknd sounds eerily similar to Michael Jackson, but I have never heard of somebody claiming that The Weeknd has stolen from him.

 In fact, it is encouraged for these male stars to lean into their comparisons. Male stars are simply allowed to be the next star to peacefully take the stage. Their female counterparts, on the other hand, must fight and take each other down a peg in order to solidify their space in the music industry. It is unnecessary for Olivia Rodrigo to have to “de-throne” Taylor Swift or Lana Del Rey, we have enough room in the music industry to have many different successful and talented women.

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