Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘Drivers License’ Hit No. 1 in a Week. Right here’s How.
The music business’s first runaway hit single of the yr is directly a time-tested mannequin — a Disney actress pivoting to pop with a catchy and confessional breakup ballad — and in addition an unprecedented TikTok-era smash by an adolescent.
“Drivers License” by Olivia Rodrigo, 17, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Sizzling 100 singles chart on Tuesday, following a record-breaking first week throughout streaming providers like Spotify and Amazon Music. Alongside the best way, the autobiographical tune kicked up tabloid and social media hypothesis as listeners tried to piece collectively its real-life parallels as if it had been a observe by Rodrigo’s hero, Taylor Swift. TikTok movies led to weblog posts, which led to streams, which led to information articles, and again round once more. The suggestions loop made it unbeatable.
“It’s been absolutely the craziest week of my life,” Rodrigo, who actually did get her driver’s license final yr, stated in an interview. “My whole life simply, like, shifted straight away.”
At a shaky and unsure time for the music enterprise, amid the pandemic and civil unrest, “Drivers License” was launched throughout platforms and with a broody music video on Jan. 8 by Geffen Data. The tune was then streamed greater than 76.1 million instances in america for the week, according to Billboard, the best complete since “WAP,” by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion, in August (93 million). On Spotify, “Drivers License” set a each day document for international streams for a non-holiday tune on Jan. 11, after which beat its personal quantity the following day, finally setting the service’s document for many streams in every week worldwide.
The observe reached No. 1 in 48 international locations on Apple Music, 31 international locations on Spotify and 14 international locations on YouTube, Rodrigo’s label stated. It additionally bought 38,000 downloads in america, probably the most for the week, and earned 8.1 million radio airplay viewers impressions, Billboard reported.
“We positively had no concept how huge it was going to be,” stated Jeremy Erlich, the co-head of music at Spotify. “It simply ballooned into this monster, in contrast to something I’ve ever seen earlier than. And I believe in contrast to something anybody’s seen earlier than.”
The corporate, which accounted for greater than 60 % of the tune’s international streams in its first week, responded to preliminary curiosity by growing its promotion of the observe, which now sits on 150 official Spotify playlists. “It’s positively not slowing down,” Erlich stated. “It’s the subject across the firm and across the business.”
The tune, written by Rodrigo and produced by Dan Nigro, begins easy sufficient: “I acquired my driver’s license final week,” Rodrigo sings over a primary piano half, “similar to we all the time talked about.” However by the top of the primary verse, she’s “crying within the suburbs,” and the music swells till a cathartic bridge that hits with a type-breaking curse phrase. The tune “efficiently balances darkish but crisp melodrama with daring tunefulness, softly pointed singing with sharp imagery,” the critic Jon Caramanica wrote. “It’s, in each approach, a contemporary and profitable pop tune.”
“Drivers License” could characterize Rodrigo’s correct debut as a solo artist, however she got here with a built-in viewers due to her Disney roles. Born and raised in Southern California, she grew to become a belting talent-show common by the age of 8 and was solid first on “Bizaardvark,” which ran for 3 seasons on the Disney Channel between 2016 and 2019. Rodrigo, who realized to play guitar for the position, starred as Paige Olvera, an adolescent who makes songs and movies for a web based content material studio.
She at the moment stars as Nini Salazar-Roberts on the Disney+ sequence “Excessive Faculty Musical: The Musical: The Collection.” Final yr, a tune written by Rodrigo, “All I Need,” grew to become the present’s most profitable observe to date.
However like Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato earlier than her — and Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera earlier than them — Rodrigo took her experiences inside the Disney machine and tried to translate them for a broader, extra grownup viewers. Followers have speculated that “Drivers License” is about Rodigro’s “Excessive Faculty Musical” co-star Joshua Bassett, who launched his personal single — and car-centric video — on Friday.
Erlich, the Spotify govt, stated that there was “a ton of X-factor that made this the right storm” for Rodrigo, together with the gossip, the standard of her tune, the advertising and marketing plan ready prematurely by her label and help from celebrities like Swift. “It did align completely and faster than something we’ve ever seen,” he stated. “We’ve seen alignment like that, however usually it’s unfold over three to 6 months — this occurred in a day and a half.”
Rodrigo known as the tune “a bit of time capsule” of a monumental six months she skilled final yr. Acknowledging the “archetype” of the Disney star-turned-pop star, she stated that she had been nervous concerning the collision of reactions from “individuals who have by no means heard my identify earlier than and individuals who have form of grown up with me on TV.” However she was thrilled to seek out each teams .
“The cool factor about ‘Drivers License’ is I’ve seen so many movies of individuals being like, ‘I do not know who this woman is, however I actually love this tune,’ which has been actually fascinating for me, as a result of for thus lengthy I’ve actually simply been connected to tasks and to characters, and that’s how folks know me,” she stated. “It’s actually cool to be launched to folks for the primary time by a tune that I really feel actually captivated with.”
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