“drivers license”- The Ultimate Teen Breakup Song

Advika Patange

Olivia Rodrigo’s debut single, “drivers license” has taken the internet by storm after its release in early January. It quickly reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles and broke multiple streaming records, going as far as to break the record for the most Spotify streams in a single week, not once but twice. Rodrigo, only 17, first rose to fame as the lead actress in the “mockumentary” High School Musical: The Musical: The Series on Disney+, which was the ironic birthplace of all of the drama surrounding the song. 

Rodrigo and her co-star, Joshua Bassett, 20, had been rumored to be in a relationship due to their close friendship and chemistry on HSM:TM:TS. While their relationship was never confirmed, “drivers license” has been theorized by fans to discuss the love triangle between Olivia Rodrigo, Joshua Bassett, and Sabrina Carpenter, another former Disney actress. The real-life drama involved is what makes this song the perfect anthem for young people with unrequited love. The way she writes about her experiences with pain and heartbreak from her relationship with Bassett has resonated with all those who have dealt with heartbreak at a young age. 

The song begins with, “I got my driver’s license last week / Just like we always talked about,” as a reference to the fact that Bassett taught Rodrigo how to drive when she was 16. Rodrigo relates to high schoolers everywhere who have experienced a close friend, or in her case, someone more than a friend, helping to teach them how to drive. Now, every time Rodrigo gets in the car, she is reminded of the memories that came from her relationship with Bassett. The clear heartbreak in her voice speaks to people who have painful memories associated with different everyday occurrences. 

Later on in “drivers license,” Rodrigo goes on to sing, “And you’re probably with that blonde girl / Who always made me doubt / She’s so much older than me / She’s everything I’m insecure about.” Fans have speculated that Rodrigo is referring to Sabrina Carpenter in these lyrics. Carpenter is reportedly dating Bassett, and at 21, four years older than Rodrigo. Here, Rodrigo admits that she is jealous of Carpenter, which is a feeling that many can empathize with. Who hasn’t been jealous of someone before? Rodrigo sees why Bassett likes Carpenter; as written in the song, she’s everything she’s insecure about. The fact that Bassett chose Carpenter over Rodrigo rubs the salt into the wound. Rodrigo is questioning herself: was she truly not good enough? Her admittance to being insecure and envious shows that Rodrigo is human, which entices teenagers. Though her thoughts toward Carpenter may not have been good-natured, it validates everyone who has thought of their ex’s new significant other with envious eyes.  

Rodrigo goes on to imply that the feelings that Bassett had for her were not genuine when she sings, “Guess you didn’t mean what you wrote in that song about me.” This could be a reference to the song “Anyone Else” by Bassett which is speculated to have been written about Rodrigo. This is the stinging line where Rodgrigo gets back at Bassett, accusing that his feelings were never real. For her, it is the only explanation as to how he moved on so quickly. 

The raw emotion that Rodrigo perfectly captured in “Drivers Licence” speaks to the brokenhearted. Numerous artists, such as Taylor Swift, have congratulated her on her success from the song. What seems to amaze the global population as well is the fact that she is a mere 17 years old. Rodrigo never thought this song would do as well as it did, and has gone on to say that after the song was released, her life was flipped upside down. 

Olivia Rodrigo fully deserves the success that came with “drivers license.” Her teenage heartbreak has been translated beautifully into a song that millions of people can relate to. It is the perfect song to listen to as you drive around in your car, crying about heartbreak. With “drivers license”, Rodrigo has established her spot in the pop music industry as a force to be reckoned with.