Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo usually make headlines, however now greater than ever, the 2 of them appear to be a significant subject of dialog. Taylor Swift’s burgeoning relationship with Travis Kelce has been talked about continuous within the media, Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour is already reaching record-breaking ticket gross sales and 1989 (Taylor’s Model) is ready to be launched on the finish of this month. Olivia Rodrigo has largely been talked about regarding the launch of her sophomore album, GUTS, and the announcement of the accompanying world tour.
As everyone knows, Taylor Swift’s fan base is likely one of the most influential and strong of any artist. Olivia Rodrigo herself identifies as a hardcore Swiftie and has repeatedly emphasised the affect Taylor Swift’s music has had on her personal. This has led lots of her followers to name her “The Subsequent Taylor Swift.” Whereas Swift and Rodrigo do share sure similarities, I might argue that by assigning Rodrigo such a title, we’re limiting her development as a inventive.
Olivia Rodrigo first shot into the highlight because the character Nini on Excessive College Musical: The Musical: The Collection. On the present, she sang the tune “All I Need,” a candy ballad emphasizing the perils of teenage love, which obtained loads of consideration. Shortly after, in 2021, Rodrigo launched her first single unassociated with the present, “drivers license,” which was then adopted by “deja vu.” As I’m certain you all keep in mind, individuals went loopy for each tracks, wherein she reminisces on a previous relationship. It was at this level that followers made the romantic connection between Rodrigo and Excessive College Musical: The Musical: The Collection co-star Joshua Bassett. Not solely had been Bassett and suspected then-girlfriend Sabrina Carpenter utterly demonized by the press in consequence, however Rodrigo gained a repute — that of the relatable, angsty teenage lady who understood what it meant to be scorned, who understood what it meant to be us. Nonetheless, this persona is usually a double-edged sword — whereas it contributed to Rodrigo’s rising fan base, it additionally created inflexible expectations for the album that “drivers license” and “deja vu” had been part of: SOUR. Rodrigo rose to the event, although, with songs reminiscent of “traitor,” “good 4 u” and “happier” solidifying her skill to sing extraordinarily successfully about previous relationships.
Because the drama involving Bassett and Carpenter constructed, the tide began to activate Rodrigo. She started to obtain backlash for the impact her songs had been having on Bassett and Carpenter. A lot of her followers caught by her facet, however her repute grew to become sophisticated. This repute is just not in contrast to Taylor Swift’s, whose songs about younger love put her on the map but in addition resulted in her receiving a lot criticism about her supposed “exploitation” of her previous relationships for subject material.
Not lengthy after the discharge of SOUR, Olivia Rodrigo was topped “The Subsequent Taylor Swift.” In some methods, this can be a large profit to Rodrigo’s profession — Taylor Swift is likely one of the most influential and storied singer-songwriters of our time. She was named Songwriter-Artist of the Decade on the Nashville Songwriter Awards in 2022 for good motive; her lyrics show a nuance and thoughtfulness that’s uncommon in right now’s musical panorama. Her skill to superbly transcend the constraints of style is laudable. Being in comparison with Taylor Swift is being in comparison with a legend.
Likewise, naming Olivia Rodrigo “The Subsequent Taylor Swift” is a restriction of artistry. By bestowing this id upon her, followers primarily prescribe her creative future. That is particularly important within the wake of the discharge of GUTS. This album was extremely anticipated — many individuals anticipated one other SOUR, which included a variety of ballads that confirmed off Rodrigo’s vocal vary and displayed a heartwarming sensitivity comforting to anybody who has ever been a teenage lady. That being stated, GUTS marks a shift away from such content material. Reasonably than leaning into that side of her first album, she went within the different course, which we received a style of with SOUR songs like “brutal”: the riot grrrl anthem. Songs like “logical” try to steadiness out this high quality with a quieter vibe, but it surely appears compelled, like an try at conserving the eye of followers of SOUR’s mushy facet. As aptly put by Cat Zhang of Pitchfork, “The album’s extra somber choices should not all the time unhealthy on their very own, however amid songs that showcase such ripened self-awareness, they will really feel caught prior to now, content material to repeat the identical wounded, wide-eyed disbelief of ‘drivers license.’”
This is the hurt in evaluating Olivia Rodrigo to Taylor Swift. The whispers of Taylor Swift’s affect that we heard in SOUR, that purposeful prose and instrumental focus, weren’t simply anticipated however demanded in GUTS. GUTS showcased Rodrigo’s skill to do all of it and represented her improvement as an artist prior to now two years, however this was overshadowed and undervalued due to the Taylor Swift designation.
Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo are distinct artists who’re gifted in their very own rights. To conflate them is to outline them and restrict their potential. As new artists emerge, we should enable them to outline themselves to foster change and innovation within the business, as a substitute of making a vortex of previously-established expertise.
Sydney Levinton is a freshman within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. She could be reached at [email protected].