|“||I'm so stoked for the album. It's just super versatile, which I'm really proud of. This is going to sound stupid, but I wanted to make it pop, alt-rock, alt-pop, and folk. I actually think I sort of pulled it off, maybe. I think there's a wide range of songs on that record, which I'm so excited about.||”|
– Rodrigo on Sour
Sour (stylized in all caps) is the debut studio album by Olivia Rodrigo. It was released on May 21, 2021, through Geffen Records. Rodrigo stated that the album explores her perils and discoveries as a 17-year-old, with its title referring to the uncomfortable, "sour" emotions the youth experience but are often shamed for, such as anger, jealousy and heartache. The musical style of Sour was inspired by Rodrigo's favorite genres and artists.
The album was written and produced by Rodrigo and Dan Nigro, alongside few other collaborators. Three singles preceded Sour's release: Rodrigo's debut single and the album's lead single, "Drivers License", invited global success and acclaim, debuted atop the US Billboard Hot 100, and propelled Rodrigo to mainstream prominence. It was followed by "Deja Vu", which debuted at 8 and reached number 3 on the chart. "Good 4 U" was the third single and debuted and peaked at number 1, making her the first ever artist too debut her first three singles in the top 10.
Olivia Rodrigo signed to Geffen Records intending to release her debut EP in 2021. She co-wrote the song "Drivers License" with its producer Daniel Nigro, and released it as her debut single in January 2021, to commercial success. Billboard magazine declared it as one of the "most dominant" hits in Hot 100 history.
Rodrigo described her debut project while speaking to Nylon:
"I want it to be super versatile. My dream is to have it be an intersection between mainstream pop, folk music, and alternative rock. I love the songwriting and the lyricism and the melodies of folk music. I love the tonality of alt-rock. Obviously, I'm obsessed with pop and pop artists. So I'm going to try and take all of my sort of influences ... and make something that I like". In another interview for i-D, Olivia stated again that her project - first intended to be an EP - was going to be very versatile, and would have "a lot of angst, heartbreak and insecurity woven into the lyrics. I tried to be as honest as I possibly could be. All of my songs are about my experience being a teenager and figuring life out…"
Rodrigo began teasing a the second single from the album on her Instagram account and posting cryptic teasers of it on her social media accounts in late March 2021, and released the track called "Deja Vu" along with a music video on April 1st. On the music video premiere, Olivia revealed that she was going to release an album instead of an EP, as she was planning, and started the pre-ordering on all digital and physical platforms with a temporary name (*O*R) and cover. She also announced its oficial release date, May 21st, 2021.
On April 12th, Olivia e-mailed criptic newsletters to her fans around the world, where she placed the names of all the tracks on the album as easter eggs for them to discover. The next day, she announced the official title for SOUR, its cover and tracklist.
Rodrigo described her ambition for her debut project, Sour, was a "super versatile" body of work that mainly blends mainstream pop, folk, and alternative rock genres, alongside elements of pop-punk, country and grunge. She stated that it is inspired by the works of her favorite singer-songwriters, such as Alanis Morissette, Taylor Swift, Kacey Musgraves, and the "pouty", "angsty" sound of rock acts like No Doubt and the White Stripes. Rodrigo also cited her mother Jennifer's musical tastes as an influence, as it was her who introduced young Rodrigo to metal, punk and 1990s alternative rock.
Rodrigo's vision for the album's lyrics was to explore a variety of "sour" emotions that young women "are often shamed for", such as anger, jealousy and sadness. The album title refers to the concept of "awesome things" in Rodrigo's life "progressively going sour" as she gets older, representing a specific "slice" of her life as a 17-year-old, "its unending growing pains and surprising discoveries." According to Rodrigo, the word "sour" has so many different meanings and she tried to write a song titled "Sour" for a long time but was unsuccessful in doing so, making her realize that it is an "all-encompassing" trope that covered the sour portion of her life. In a Billboard interview, Rodrigo told that she tried to balance out the "sour" songs of her debut album with some love songs, in order to avoid being pigeonholed as "the heartbreak girl"; however, she eventually dropped the idea, to preserve her authenticity as a songwriter. She asserted that love and happiness were not the emotions she felt while making the album.
Music and lyrics
Sour has been described as a genre-hopping pop, pop-punk, bedroom pop, and alternative rock record with synth-popand dream pop inflections. Stylistically, the album spans from energetic 1990s-inspired guitar rock to tender acoustic balladry driven by piano and fingerpicked guitars. Its songs represent different perspectives to a single storyline of failed romance. The songwriting is characterized by self-aware themes of anger and revenge, alongside Rodrigo's insecurities and vulnerability, using detail-specific lyrics.
The opening track, "Brutal", was described as "angsty" and "uptempo" by Rodrigo. It was dubbed as enjoyable "playful and easy pop-punk" by Jules Levefre of Junkee. Rodrigo also revealed that "Brutal" was the last track written for the album, describing it as a "last-minute" addition. The song has "thrashy [sic]" guitars, and was reported to be a "teen-angst tirade" and "[a] desire to defy any pop expectations that have been placed upon [Rodrigo] by fans, friends, executives, or exes". "Traitor", the second track, is a ballad. Its lyrics have been described to consist of "post-grief anger and bargaining".
The fourth track, "1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back", interpolates the piano line in Taylor Swift's "New Year's Day" (2017). The song "regret-wracked" tune. The ninth track, "Jealousy, Jealousy", has been described as "serpentine" and an "alt-rock squall à la the Kills". The stripped-down tenth track, "Favorite Crime", incorporates a set of layers harmonies with a folky style. "Hope Ur Ok", the closing track, has been reported to be a "shimmering blessing to down-on-their-luck people Rodrigo has known", and the sound of the chorus has been described as a benediction.
Promotion and release
On April 1, Rodrigo announced across her social media accounts that her debut album is scheduled for release on May 21, 2021. Preorders for the album began the following day. On April 13, Rodrigo teased the album's title, and subsequently, posted the album's title, track listing, and cover artwork on the same day. Sour became one of the most anticipated music releases of 2021.
The standard cover artwork of Sour finds Rodrigo standing against a purple backdrop, wearing a fuzzy pale pink tank top and checkered bottoms. She has her tongue stuck out, with her face covered in a variety of colorful stickers. The stickers on her tongue spell the album title. Popsugar observed that Rodrigo is also wearing a ring in the cover artwork, identical to a ring that Taylor Swift had gifted her earlier. The backside cover also has a purple background, featuring scattered stickers as well as the tracklist on a pearly-colored balloon that Rodrigo's hand is about to pop with a safety pin. In the alternative cover available for the Target-exclusive and vinyl editions of Sour, purple is again the dominant color, but stickers are not present.
Sour was supported by three singles, two of which charted inside the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100.
"Drivers License", released on January 8, 2021, serves as the lead single of Sour and Rodrigo's debut single. An accompanying music video for the song, directed by Matthew Dillon Cohen, was uploaded to Rodrigo's YouTube channel simultaneously with the single's release. The song broke a string of records, including the Spotify record for the most single-day streams for a non-holiday song and the biggest first week for a song on Spotify and on Amazon Music. The song debuted atop the US Billboard Hot 100 and made Rodrigo the youngest artist ever to debut atop the chart. It was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.
"Deja Vu" was announced as the second single on her social media accounts on March 29, 2021, and was released three days later along with its music video, directed by Allie Avital in Malibu. The song debuted at number 8 on the Hot 100, making Rodrigo the first artist in history to debut her first two singles inside the top 10 of the chart.
The third single, "Good 4 U", was announced on May 10, 2021, and was released on May 14. Its music video, directed by Petra Collins, features Rodrigo as a revengeful cheerleader, making references to the 2000s' cult classic films Princess Diaries and Jennifer's Body. The energetic song provided listeners the taste of a different side of Sour, departing from the slower and melancholic emotion of the preceding singles "Drivers License" and "Deja Vu".
Rodrigo gave the debut performance of "Drivers License" on February 4, 2021, at The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. She has expressed excitement for a potential upcoming tour in support of the album post the COVID-19 pandemic. A sneak-peek of the creation process of the album was featured in IMAX screenings of In the Heights (2021) on Mother's Day. On May 12, 2021, a trailer to Sour was posted to Rodrigo's YouTube channel, which showed studio clips of herself and Nigro, and featured a snippet of "Good 4 U" which was set to release two days later. She performed "Drivers License" and debuted "Good 4 U" live at Saturday Night Live on May 15, 2021, hosted by American actor Keegan-Michael Key. On May 16, 2021, a hotline phone number "[]" was made available, which teased an unreleased track from Sour. In the evening of May 20, 2021, Rodrigo is set to appear on YouTube's live-stream of the official premiere party of Sour, as an episode for the platform's Released series. She will play voice memos from her phone, discuss songs, interact with fans, and exclusively perform the track "Enough for You". Rodrigo gave interviews and appeared on the magazine covers of Interview, Elle, The Face, NME, Billboard, and Nylon.
|And It Don't Stop||A|
|The Daily Telegraph|||
Sour was met with critical acclaim upon release. The general consensus was that the album is a strong debut record that mounts Rodrigo as the new face of "Gen Z pop". On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized score out of 100 to ratings from publications, the album received a mean score of 83 based on 20 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".
Robin Murray of Clash hailed Sour as a "bravura" pop statement "marked by excellence from front to back". He described its 11 tracks as "potential smash hit singles", and complimented Rodrigo's bold lyricism, punchy execution, deeming her as "pop's newest icon, and one of its bravest voices". The A.V. Club's Tatiana Tenreyro designated it a contender for best pop album of 2021, and highlighted that Sour has no filler tracks. She stated that each song depicts a different side to Rodrigo's artistry, embracing influences while still creating "something fresh". Kate Solomon, writing for i, called Sour a "surprisingly accomplished package" and a "stunning portrait of adolescence". NME critic Rhian Daly called Rodrigo a "multidimensional" artist who writes detailed songs that "go full-circle from being precisely personal to universally relatable".
Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph opined that Sour excels in modern production, which strikes an acoustic-electronic balance, combining Taylor Swift's traditional songcraft, Lorde's harmonies and Billie Eilish's whispery vocals with the brashness of Alanis Morissette and Avril Lavigne. Mikael Wood of Los Angeles Times dubbed the album "flawless Gen Z pop" that ranges from crisp 1990s rock to acoustic balladry, and "the most self-aware pop record in recent memory". Entertainment Weekly's Maura Johnston felt that Sours heaviness is bettered by Rodrigo's grace and self-awareness, and that she is not trying to be "the next" anyone, but instead, distills her life and musical tastes into promising, "powerful, hooky pop". Rolling Stone critic Angie Martoccio wrote that, beyond her idols and inspirations, Rodrigo forged "a path into an entirely new realm of pop" in Sour, where she is "unapologetically and enthusiastically her own guide".
Variety's Chris Williman called Sour "ridiculously good", and "unabashedly teenage" atypical of most teen singers who often try to mimick adult music. Praising Rodrigo's musical vision and Nigro's production, Rachel Saywitz, reviewing for The Line of Best Fit, stated that Sour swerves the boundaries of conventional genres to work Rodrigo's wide taste. Jon Caramanica of The New York Times called it a "nuanced and often exceptional debut album", which traverses through Rodrigo's evolving perspectives real-time. The Independent critic Helen Brown thought Sour converts 21st-century adolescence into universally resonating "story-songs", and admired Rodrigo's "disarming honesty", using F-bombs unlike former teen stars who "don't usually do that until they're onto the post-breakdown record". She added that its organic musicality breaks the "shiny surfaces we've come to expect from such glossy girls."
Olivia Horn of Pitchfork called it a "nimble and lightly chaotic collection of breakup tunes filled with melancholy and mischief", with profanity typically prohibited by the morality clauses limiting Disney singers. However, she stated that Rodrigo is "more invested in content than in craft" at moments, settling for simple rhymes, self-evident phrasing, and a do-it-yourself recording quality that exposes imperfections in Rodrigo's voice. Rachel Aroesti of The Guardian said Sour is polished "pop euphoria" that processes anger, jealousy and bewilderment, and "doubles as one of the most gratifyingly undignified breakup albums ever made", but nevertheless, majority of it follows the style of "Drivers License", resulting in a lovely and thoughtful but unadventurous record. In the words of Stereogums Chris DeVille, Rodrigo's lyrics "can come off desperate and immature" while the album's pace can be a "wearisome slog" at times, but Sour works by weaponizing its drawbacks. Regarding the album "a youthful tour through heartbreak angst" that weakens only when it "plays too safe", DIY's Jenessa Williams thought that Rodrigo's "truly soars" when she heads strong, rather than victimizing herself in "bitterness".
In June 2021, Billboard included Sour on their "Best Albums of 2021 So Far: Staff Picks" list, with Josh Glicksman stating that Rodrigo's "songwriting prowess" is on "full display throughout" and adding that "Rodrigo is rewriting chart history in real time". Exclaim! ranked Sour number four on their "31 Best Albums of 2021 So Far" list. Rolling Stone also included Sour on their "Best Albums of 2021 So Far" list, with Angie Martoccio opining that Rodrigo "expertly rides the wave of teenage turbulence and emotional chaos down any road she chooses".
|1.||"brutal"||Olivia Rodrigo, Daniel Nigro||Nigro||2:23|
|3.||"drivers license"||Rodrigo, Nigro||Nigro||4:02|
|4.||"1 step forward, 3 steps back"||Rodrigo, Jack Antonoff, Taylor Swift||Rodrigo, Nigro||2:43|
|5.||"deja vu"||Rodrigo, Nigro, Antonoff, Swift, Annie Clark||Nigro||3:35|
|6.||"good 4 u"||Rodrigo, Nigro, Hayley Williams, Josh Farro||Nigro, Alexander 23||2:58|
|7.||"enough for you"||Rodrigo||Rodrigo, Nigro||3:22|
|9.||"jealousy, jealousy"||Rodrigo, Nigro, Casey Smith||Nigro, Jam City||2:53|
|10.||"favorite crime"||Rodrigo, Nigro||Nigro||2:32|
|11.||"hope ur ok"||Rodrigo, Nigro||Nigro||3:29|
- All track titles are stylized in all lowercase.
- All tracks were written by Olivia Rodrigo and Dan Nigro; all tracks produced by Nigro.
- "1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back" interpolates "New Year's Day" (2017), written by Taylor Swift and Jack Antonoff.
- "Deja Vu" interpolates "Cruel Summer" (2019), written by Taylor Swift, Jack Antonoff, and Annie Clark.
- "21st Century Girls"
- "Apocalyptic Crush"
- "Baby Is You" (unofficial title)
- "Best Friend" (unofficial title)
- "Creature of Habit"
- "I'm Yours"
- "Just Because"
- "Miss This"
- "Naive Girl"
- "Never Be Like Her"
- "Pay Grade"
- "Rebel Without A Clue"
- "Sad Tune For Your Friday Night"
- "Strange" (confirmed)
- "Teenage Drama Queen"
- "The Exception"
- "The Ones I Love" (confirmed)
- "Twilight Song"
- "White Flowers"
- Olivia Rodrigo – vocals (all tracks), songwriting (all tracks), production (4, 7, 8), co-production (4, 7)
- Dan Nigro – songwriting (1–3, 5, 6, 9–11), production (all tracks), recording (all tracks), mixing (11), vocal arrangement (10), backing vocals (1–3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11), acoustic guitar (1, 2, 5–7, 10), bass (3–10), drum programming (1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11), drums (3), electric guitar (1, 2, 5, 6), guitar (8, 9), organ (4, 11), percussion (3), piano (2–4, 8, 9), synthesizer (1, 3, 6, 8, 9)
- Ryan Linvill – acoustic guitar (11), bass (2, 11), drum programming (1, 2), flute (5), saxophone (5, 10), synthesizer (2), Wurlitzer organ (1), assistant recording (6), engineering (7)
- Alexander 23 – production (6), co-production (6), backing vocals (6), bass (6), drum programming (6), electric guitar (6)
- Jam City – production (9), additional production (9), drum programming (9), guitar (5), organ (5), synthesizer (9)
- Erick Serna – bass (1), electric guitar (1)
- Paul Cartwright – viola (1, 8), violin (1, 8)
- Taylor Swift – songwriting (4)
- Jack Antonoff – songwriting (4)
- Casey Smith – songwriting (9)
- Sam Stewart – guitar (11)
- Randy Merrill – mastering (all tracks)
- Mitch McCarthy – mixing (1-10)
- Dan Viafore – assistant recording (3–5, 8, 9, 11)
- Nylon - OLIVIA RODRIGO ON 'DRIVERS LICENSE,' TAYLOR SWIFT, AND WHAT COMES NEXT
- i-D - Olivia Rodrigo on heartbreak, Taylor Swift and her TV obsession
- YouTube - Olivia Rodrigo “Deja Vu” Music Video Premiere - Youtube LIVE
- Twitter - Check your email because Olivia sent something via e-mail to those suscribed to her newsletter!
- AnyDecentMusic? - Olivia Rodrigo Sour
- Metacritic - Reviews and Tracks for Sour by Olivia Rodrigo
- AllMusic - Sour – Olivia Rodrigo
- And It Don't Stop - Consumer Guide: June, 2021
- Clash - Olivia Rodrigo - SOUR
- The Daily Telegraph - Olivia Rodrigo's Sour is a sleek Gen Z tale of bad affairs and worse teenage boys
- Entertainment Weekly - Sour review: Olivia Rodrigo's debut album hints at an even brighter future
- The Guardian - Olivia Rodrigo: Sour review – cathartic rage at teenage heartbreak
- The Independent - Olivia Rodrigo review, 'Sour': Disarming honesty makes for an impressive debut
- NME - Olivia Rodrigo – 'Sour' review: this year's breakout star channels '90s alt-rock
- Pitchfork - Olivia Rodrigo: SOUR Album Review
- Rolling Stone - Olivia Rodrigo Is a Revelatory New Pop Voice on 'Sour.' Deal With It
- Vogue - Olivia Rodrigo on Her Breakout Year, Brand-New Album—And What Comes Next
- Los Angeles Times - Olivia Rodrigo does not miss. All these 'Sour' reviews are here to prove it
- The A.V. Club - Olivia Rodrigo's SOUR is so much more than a breakup album
- i News - Olivia Rodrigo's Sour is stunning portrait of adolescence
- Los Angeles Times - Review: Olivia Rodrigo delivers flawless Gen Z pop on her debut album
- Variety - Olivia Rodrigo's 'Sour' Is One Sweet Entreé Into a Lifetime of Music-Making: Album Review
- The Line of Best Fit - Olivia Rodrigo cements her success story on the explorative and heartbroken Sour
- New York Times - Allow Olivia Rodrigo to Introduce Herselves
- Stereogum - Premature Evaluation: Olivia Rodrigo Sour
- DIY Mag - Olivia Rodrigo – Sour
- Billboard - The 50 Best Albums of 2021 So Far: Staff Picks
- Exclaim! - Exclaim!'s 31 Best Albums of 2021 So Far
- Rolling Stone - The Best Albums of 2021 So Far
|May 21, 2021 • 34:41 • Geffen Records, Interscope Records|
|Released||1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back • Brutal • Drivers License • Deja Vu • Enough For You • Favorite Crime • Good 4 U • Happier • Hope Ur Ok • Jealousy, Jealousy • Traitor|
|Unreleased||Apocalyptic Crush • Gross|