Olivia Rodrigo could have become an overnight superstar with her record-breaking debut single, “Drivers License,” and cemented that success with her chart-topping debut album, Acidbut his career was not built in a day.
In her touching new Disney+ documentary, Olivia Rodrigo: Driving Home 2 Uthe 19-year-old singer takes us behind the scenes of the making of every song on ACID, and interprets each in a way that gives it new context and new life. Below, vogue‘s five biggest takeaways after watching the documentary.
“Happier” was actually the song that started it all
Before the wild success of “Drivers License”, it was actually a song that didn’t get any attention that changed Olivia Rodrigo’s life. When she posted “Happier” online, there were “no likes” and she criticized her singing on it, wondering why she posted it. But she had the “gut feeling” to continue. Producer Dan Nigro discovered the track and messaged her that he loved her and that they should work together. It became the first song they produced, before creating their number one hit album together.
There is a meaning behind his performance venues
Performing each song in different locations in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, Rodrigo explains that she created much of the album between those two locations. (Los Angeles is where she lives, and much of High School Musical: The Musical– the show on which she met co-star ex-boyfriend Joshua Bassett – was filmed in Salt Lake City.) Every spot she appears in emphasizes the inspirations and various meanings behind the parts.
Take “Jealousy, Jealousy”: Sung under a highway in Avril Lavigne’s 2000s pop-rock video style, it brings out that sonic inspiration even more, while Rodrigo’s rendition of “1 step forward, 3 steps back” on the acoustic guitar instead of the piano draws its country roots. In others, the setting enhances the concept, like the deadly heartbreak of “Favorite Crime” played out in the ruins of a tomb-like stage. And, beneath the wrecked hull of a plane, you also see glimpses of her acting days, as she cosplays a Mick Jagger-like rockstar for “Brutal” to fabulously fun effect.
You get a glimpse of both the making of the album and the making of Olivia Rodrigo
From early demos of various songs with different lyrics to the lines in her diary she lifted for her songs, there is a lot of intimate information about the creation of Acid. An exciting scene shows Dan Nigro and Olivia Rodrigo improvising “Brutal” before your eyes, built from a guitar riff and Rodrigo’s whim for another upbeat song, just five days before the release of the album’s tracklist. ‘album.
There are further insights into her past relationship and heartbreak – Rodrigo shares insights such as how she wrote ‘1 step forward, 3 steps back’ the day before she split from her ex. Beyond the album, you hear how being a pampered child star initially sparked her trust issues and complicated feelings around her sudden success.
There’s a deeper meaning to her stage outfits
As the queen of Generation Z, a vintage aesthetic that is both grungy and twee and inspired by the 90s and 2000s, Rodrigo has created a wardrobe dominated by an array of knitted cardigans, strappy dresses and necklaces in silver superimposed. But what’s particularly remarkable is how she mixes and matches her outfits for different performances, re-wearing her Doc Martens platform and knee high socks, her black and white Penny Lane coat and a plaid skirt . In interviews with vogue, she talks about her love for vintage fashion, due to her environmental concerns and interest in sustainability. By re-wearing the second-hand clothes for separate shows, she proves that there is glamor in repeat outfits.
Rodrigo came out the other side
Watching Rodrigo wrap up the album is a bittersweet moment. But, after a year in the studio, she hopes the next album won’t be so sad. You feel like she’s moved past the pain, and she ends by talking about her pride and gratitude that she was able to turn it into something that brought “light and joy into the world.” Due to grow “five years in a year” due to her sudden fame, she is a different person from when she started, with thicker skin and a stronger spine. The film ends with a beach performance of “Hope Ur Ok,” which Rodrigo sings barefoot on the sand before running with his bandmates into the sea, cleared as the sun sets on this chapter of his life.