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The Rise of Olivia Rodrigo

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Label’s Head of Design, Christos Leo Alamaniotis, gives us an account on Olivia Rodrigo’s chart-topping single, ‘drivers license’, and her success, with the help of TikTok.

Olivia Rodrigo tops current charts with her debut single ‘drivers license’, but what brings it success?

Slow, rolling piano chords draw a greater focus onto Rodrigo’s vocal style, creating an emotive atmosphere that would not feel out of place in a coming-of-age film soundtrack. Whilst the song may not be technically advanced, it sees its success in its accessibility, through its reach across TikTok. The app’s younger age demographic is well suited to this teenage ode to heartbreak; in exploring a theme so represented in media, listeners have no choice but to sympathise with Rodrigo. This combined with the bridge’s crescendo creates an emotive piece that audiences can resonate with.

The song is successful in its simplicity, appealing to a wide audience and in doing so, positions it as well suited to pop music. The clear focus on the vocals strengthens Rodrigo’s emotional narrative, resulting in listeners being in direct contact with the singer’s story. The song is written to complement her vocals, with the piano never being a dominating force. The instrumental is instead an accompanying factor, swelling along with the stronger vocals.

Olivia Rodrigo’s success with ‘drivers license’ represents a new age in music promotion, via TikTok. The platform is dominating social media, and now has the influence to impact music trends. Songs like Doja Cat’s ‘Say So’ and Molchat Doma’s ‘Sudno’ skyrocketed in streams once gaining traction on TikTok, showing that the app’s influence is already proving successful in influencing chart music.

While Rodrigo already had amassed a following through her role on Disney Plus’s “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series”, her endorsements by celebrities like Taylor Swift and Charli D’Amelio are what introduced the song to new audiences. Endorsements can influence trends within the app, increasing a track’s popularity immensely.

This shift in music promotion means that the current music scene can be shaped by simple social media trends and as a result questions exactly how much influence the younger age demographics can have on pop music. 69% of users belong to 13-24 age bracket, and if the app continues to grow, this community could be at the forefront of shaping music culture. With social media becoming more and more dominating, it becomes increasingly likely that media trends inspired by music can easily have the power to influence chart music. In ‘drivers license’, a simple series of interactions on social media have directly led to what we currently experience as pop music.

Rodrigo’s success with ‘drivers license’ shows the artist’s capability to write music for a wide audience, and with it, the song represents how the music climate is being shaped by social media trends. Will other social media platforms manage to mimic this influence?

 

Header by Christos Leo Alamaniotis – Head of Design

Article Edited by Matthew Rousou – Label Music Editor

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Label Music Editor 2020-21

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