Courtesy of Geffen Records

April 12, 2021

Olivia Rodrigo Proves She Is Not a One-Hit Wonder

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If you have ventured onto the internet in the last few months, you have probably heard the song “Drivers License” by Olivia Rodrigo. The “major teenage milestone” themed breakup ballad was first released in early January, and quickly evolved into a major pop culture phenomenon. “Drivers License” has broken several Spotify records, set the background music for countless TikToks and established the 18-year-old Rodrigo as perhaps the biggest breakout artist of the year. 

Following the success of “Drivers License” must have been a nerve-wracking task. However, on March 29, Rodrigo announced the release of her second single, titled “Deja Vu.” “Deja Vu” is more than a worthy successor to Rodrigo’s first hit: the single deepens her credentials as a songwriter and proves that she is an artist here to stay. 

“Deja Vu” continues Rodrigo’s collaboration with producer Daniel Nigro, who has worked with indie-pop darlings such as Conan Grey, Carly Rae Jepson and Sky Ferreria. Sonically, “Deja Vu” combines a twinkling, nursery rhyme melody with an almost psychedelic guitar riff that breaks in after the first chorus. The production sounds incredibly fresh, with just enough detail to highlight Rodrigo’s voice and songwriting without detracting from it. 

In the song, Rodrigo directs her attention towards an ex-boyfriend who is repeating all the patterns of their relationship with another girl. He takes them to the same places and plays her the same Billy Joel songs, leaving Rodrigo to exclaim “I know you get Deja Vu!” Just like “Drivers License,” “Deja Vu” benefits from its clever premise but thematically, it showcases a different perspective on the “typical” teenage breakup. While “Drivers License” was pleading and heartbroken, on “Deja Vu,” Rodrigo sounds weary and annoyed. Rodrigo does not channel her irritation towards the new girlfriend, nor does she want her boyfriend back. Instead, “Deja Vu” is pure, cathartic pettiness — the perfect type to sing along to when you are experiencing romantic drama. 

“Deja Vu” is not perfect. As with “Drivers License,” some of its lyrics read a bit juvenile (I am not sure “watching reruns of Glee” was a phrase I needed to ever hear in a song). However, its charms vastly outnumber its faults. It would be impossible for “Deja Vu” to emulate the commercial success of its predecessor, but I am definitely rooting for it to do well — and I believe that it will. It has the tools for success: an established but still exciting artist, TikTok clout and a music video with a fresh, summer-y aesthetic. As for the next step in Olivia Rodrigo’s career, the songwriter has announced her debut album — which currently has the working title *O*R will be released on May 21. I am unabashedly looking forward to it. 

Ayesha Chari is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at asc294@cornell.edu