“Drivers License” stays atop Billboard Hot 100; drama lingers


Photo used with permission from Google Commons

Olivia Rodrigo sings with High School Musical: The Musical: The Series costar Joshua Basset at the 2019 D23 Expo.

Getting your driver’s license is normally an exciting event in teenagers’ lives, signalling a transition into adulthood and more freedoms. However, for singer and songwriter Olivia Rodrigo, getting her driver’s license accompanied heartbreak.

Rodrigo’s single, “Drivers License,” was released on Jan. 8. The song has dominated the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for its fifth week, beating Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings,” which was released in 2019. In the first three days of its release, “Drivers License” broke records. According to Billboard, the song “sold 16,000 copies and had been streamed 21 million times in the U.S., according to preliminary figures from MRC Data.” 

“Drivers License” gained recognition for not only being sung, but also written by Rodrigo. “I am very happy for Rodrigo being a rising star in the music industry because she has a great voice and personality,” sophomore Hope Safai said.

Rodrigo stepped into the spotlight after starring the Disney series Bizaardvark, where she played Paige Olvera, one of the show’s main protagonists. Rodrigo also starred in the Disney Plus original series “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” where she played the main character Nini Salazar-Roberts. Rodrigo gained more recognition when she sang “All I Want,” which was a song featured in the show. Rodrigo also sang “Just for a Moment” with co-star Joshua Bassett, who played Ricky Bowen in HSMTMTS. “I used to watch the Disney show she was on, Bizaardvark, and I always loved watching her act,” Safai said.

Fans of Rodrigo speculate that “Drivers License” was written to express the heartbreak Rodrigo felt about her breakup with fellow costar Bassett, as well as his rumored relationship with Sabrina Carpenter, who starred in Disney’s “Girl Meets World.”  Rodrigo sings “you’re probably with that blonde girl, who always made me doubt,” which strengthened fans’ suspicions that the song was written about Bassett and Carpenter. “If this song is truly about Joshua Bassett and Sabrina Carpenter’s relationship, I feel bad for Rodrigo. You could tell that she felt betrayed and that she really loved Bassett,” Safai said.

… I would say that the drama that surrounds the song and the responses are most likely a publicity stunt…”

Fans’ suspicions grew in response to Bassett coming out with his single “Lie Lie Lie,” which was interpreted as a response to “Drivers License.” In the song, Bassett sings about someone who is “lying through their teeth,” fans believing that this someone is Rodrigo. Some found this theory unlikely as Bassett had made Instagram posts to his story in support of Rodrigo and “Drivers License.” Similarly, Carpenter came out with her single “Skin,” which was also interpreted as a response. In the song, Carpenter sings “maybe blonde was the only rhyme,” a lyric that directly references Rodrigo’s lyrics about a “blonde girl.” “In terms of all of the controversy around Joshua, Sabrina and Olivia, I would say that the drama that surrounds the song and the responses are most likely a publicity stunt, even if the lyrics suggest that the three of them are referring to each other,” sophomore Jahnavee Chakravarty said.