2023 will rightfully go down as the year of Taylor Swift, but for my money? Olivia Rodrigo is the dark horse candidate for stealing the crown away. Rodrigo excels not in changing the game, but perfecting it - every song on GUTS has clearly defined and obvious inspirations (I maintain that "all-american bitch" is her channelling Weezer's "My Name is Jonas," and no one can tell me "get him back!" isn't "Pepper" by the Butthole Surfers), but the raw, unvarnished honesty and self-deprication on the album is a welcome change from a lot of the pop music efforts to hide one's true feelings in a veneer of metaphor and code. As much fun as it is to conspiratorize over the color selection of Tay-Tay's confetti, it's even more fun to sing along to a line like "I wanna meet his mom / and tell her her son sucks."
Pop music was bad for a fair amount of time there 20 years ago. When we have people like Olivia Rodrigo who grew up on Taylor Swift, Lorde, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Kelly Clarkson changing the game up, we all benefit. So what if she literally has trillions of streams: you owe it to yourself to give her a chance.
Songs of Note: "bad idea right?," "vampire," "ballad of a homeschooled girl," "get him back!"