The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Review | Olivia Rodrigo’s second album, ‘Guts,’ conquers youth and growing pains

Olivia Rodrigo’s latest album, released Sept. 8, explores her experience growing up in the music industry and saying goodbye to being a teenager.
Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY NET
Olivia Rodrigo presents the award for best new artist.

Whether it’s exploring genres of pop-rock or diving deep into what it means to be a woman growing up, Olivia Rodrigo’s second album, “Guts,” is a masterful and intimate look at girlhood.

The album, released at midnight on Sept. 8, features 12 unique songs that are as raw as they are fun.

Rodrigo’s first album, “Sour,” was an instant hit after its release in 2021, and fans have eagerly awaited her next collection ever since.

The first track on the album, “all-american bitch,” is a distinct song that prepares the listener for the next 11 songs. It is self-reflective and fast-paced, and it foreshadows later themes like growing up and
beauty standards.

The two singles released before the rest of the album, “bad idea right?” and “vampire,” complement the song in contrasting ways. The songs, “bad idea right?” recalls the best moments of a relationship, and “vampire” dives into the pain of learning that someone is not who you thought they were.

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Following “vampire,” the fourth song on the album is “lacy.” Lyrically similar to Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” or Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush,” this song takes a personal perspective.

Rodrigo truly mastered the pop-rock sound in “ballad of a homeschooled girl.” While I don’t think this track shows off her full capabilities as a musical artist, it makes for an interesting listen and helps to further the theme of girlhood and growing pains she captures with her music.

The next two songs, “making the bed” and “logical,” are complex songs exemplifying Rodrigo’s versatility. They contain themes of sadness and an identity crisis through quiet, slower melodies.

In particular, “making the bed” discusses Rodrigo’s personal struggles with fame, which proves her capabilities as an artist, especially one within the breakup song niche.

Rodrigo returns to an upbeat sound with “get him back!” and “love is embarrassing.” Both songs are creative, slightly romantic, and have interesting lyrics that describe complex themes. The lyrics in “get him back!” are especially creative with the repetition of the phrases that imply she both wants him back in her life and wants revenge on a love interest for hurting her.

Tracks “the grudge” and “pretty isn’t pretty” are melodic and reflective, a stark change from the previous headbangers. While “the grudge” examines the suffering of wondering how someone could have done something so hurtful, “pretty isn’t pretty” struck me with its reexamination of harmful beauty standards.

The final song of the album, “teenage dream,” concludes the album on an introspective note. Rodrigo explores growing up, saying goodbye to being a teenager — something relatable for my 19-year-old self — and fearing the future. She cleverly wraps up the album and nods to the lyrics “where’s my f***ing teenage dream?” from “brutal.”

Aside from the music itself, I think the order of the album is an intentional examination of being a teenager.

The album switches from a couple of more upbeat pop and rock songs to slower, sadder songs, and then it bounces back to the fun, lighter songs. Being a teenager means experiencing a lot of emotions all at once and in rapid succession, and Rodrigo perfectly summarizes it for her listeners.

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About the Contributor
Emma Gaughan
Emma Gaughan, Arts Reporter
Emma Gaughan is a second-year student at the University of Iowa, studying psychology and criminology, as well as completing a writing certificate. She is from West Des Moines, where she developed her love of both writing and the arts.