June 23, 2024

‘GUTS:’ brutally honest and unapologetic

Olivia Rodrigo’s highly-anticipated sophomore album was released on Sept. 15, 2023. 

The singer-songwriter released two singles prior to the album release: “vampire” and “bad idea right?” Fans have been eagerly awaiting this new album, especially after making waves with her debut as a solo artist.

Rogrigo starred on Disney Channel’s “Bizaardvark” with her co-star and current friend Madison Hu. However, her more well-known role came from the Disney+ series “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” 

Although Rogrigo has been musically involved from early on in her life, “All I Want,” one of her character’s songs in the Disney+ hit, set the stage for her solo career. In 2021, Rodrigo’s first single, “Driver’s License,” truly catapulted her to fame. 

Guts by Olivia Rodrigo on Compact Disc (Side B). Photo via WikiMedia Commons

In just 24 hours of its release, the song was streamed 15.17 million times on Spotify and broke the record for most streams in a week on Apple Music. As of September 2023, the music video has almost 480 million views on YouTube.

The “GUTS” album still maintains Rodrigo’s purple-tinted teenage rage and signature sound, but takes on a more bittersweet range. Heartbreak, anger, friendships and insecurities are certainly central album themes. However, GUTS has a more introspective feel.

The opener of the album, “all-american bitch,” is a sarcastic critique of the concept of the sweet, iconic All-American Girl. The switch in the instrumentals between the softer verses and the Avril Lavigne-esque chorus illustrates the well-known pressure for young women who are expected to be perfect and gracious at all times.

The two singles both follow the opening track, but couldn’t be more different. “bad idea right?” follows the self-destructive habits of getting back with an ex all her friends hate, while “vampire” begrudges an older man for taking advantage of her naivety.

“Lacy” details a gentler, cutting envy that expands on “SOUR’s” “jealousy, jealousy.” Like in the first track of the album, Rodrigo uses her beautiful imagery and melodic instrumental to contrast her tumultuous emotions. In the beginning over a simple guitar rhythm, Rodrigo sings “Aren’t you the sweetest thing on this side of Hell?”

“Ballad of a homeschooled girl” focuses on the struggle of not fitting in and how she always blunders social situations through a grungy sound similar to “all-american bitch.” The final lines include a tongue-and-cheek joke, with Rodrigo singing “Can’t think of a third line” and ending the song with four filler lines.

Logo of Olivia Rodrigo’s Guts World Tour. Photo via WikiMedia Commons

Rodrigo spreads her ballads throughout the album, with “making the bed” issuing personal confessions of self-sabotage and “logical” returning to her classic devastating belt. 

These songs explore regret and disdain for her past actions through probing questions which are clearer in hindsight. This doesn’t stop Rodrigo from blaming herself, even as she recognizes the damage that others have contributed.

Accompanied by a music video made solely with the latest iPhone, “get him back!” follows the theme of bitterness towards exes but not being able to stay away. Rodrigo is destroying hearts and cars as she details the “sweet revenge” she longs to take out. 

“Love is embarrassing” boasts a pop production similar to that of Chappell Roan, with influences in the bridge of the early MARINA sound. An underrated track due to its placement on the album, “love is embarrassing” complains about the struggles and ridiculousness of the things people do for love.

“The grudge” continues with Rodrigo’s indignation and anger toward people who have wronged her, especially people who have continually torn her down. 

The second to last song of the album, “pretty isn’t pretty,” highlights the impossibility of being pretty when the beauty standards are stacked against you.

While the closing track of “GUTS” shares a title with Katy Perry’s decade-defining album, “teenage dream” has more in common lyrically with “Nothing New,” Taylor Swift’s burnout anthem featuring Phoebe Bridgers. This song is the perfect finale for the album, with all of her anxieties encapsulated in the last couple of lines: “They all say that it gets better, but what if I don’t?” 

Critics have compared Olivia Rodrigo to the latest and greatest artists, but “GUTS” reassures listeners that she is not this generation’s Taylor Swift or the new Avril Lavigne. She is Olivia Rodrigo, in all of her gutsy glory.

Rodrigo recently announced the GUTS World Tour starting in February of 2023 with four different openers over the course of the six month tour. Many fans got waitlisted during the Ticketmaster presale, but fans should follow legitimate ticket resale sites, especially as tour dates get closer. 
In the meantime, fans can listen to the album in a couple different ways. There are CDs for sale and four vinyl variants, each with a different bonus track: “Obsessed” (on the red vinyl), “Scared of My Guitar” (on the white vinyl), “Stranger” (on the blue vinyl) and “Girl I’ve Always Been” (on the purple Target Exclusive vinyl). The album is available to stream on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.


  • Charlotte Keller

    Charlotte is a third-year English Literature major with a Spanish minor. She is secretary of the Capital Book Club, an AIM Change Advocate, and Capital’s Student Government Parliamentarian. In her free time, she likes to make Spotify playlists and watch rom-coms.

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