The music business’s first runaway hit single of the 12 months is directly a time-tested mannequin — a Disney actress pivoting to pop with a catchy and confessional breakup ballad — and in addition an unprecedented TikTok-era smash by a young person.
“Drivers License” by Olivia Rodrigo, 17, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart on Tuesday, following a record-breaking first week throughout streaming providers like Spotify and Amazon Music. Along the way in which, the autobiographical tune kicked up tabloid and social media hypothesis as listeners tried to piece collectively its real-life parallels as if it have been a monitor by Rodrigo’s hero, Taylor Swift. TikTok movies led to weblog posts, which led to streams, which led to information articles, and again round once more. The suggestions loop made it unbeatable.
“It’s been the absolute craziest week of my life,” Rodrigo, who actually did get her driver’s license final 12 months, stated in an interview. “My entire life just, like, shifted in an instant.”
At a shaky and unsure time for the music enterprise, amid the pandemic and civil unrest, “Drivers License” was launched throughout platforms and with a broody music video on Jan. Eight by Geffen Records. The tune was then streamed greater than 76.1 million occasions within the United States for the week, according to Billboard, the very best complete since “WAP,” by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion, in August (93 million). On Spotify, “Drivers License” set a every day document for international streams for a non-holiday tune on Jan. 11, after which beat its personal quantity the subsequent day, finally setting the service’s document for many streams in per week worldwide.
The monitor reached No. 1 in 48 nations on Apple Music, 31 nations on Spotify and 14 nations on YouTube, Rodrigo’s label stated. It additionally bought 38,000 downloads within the United States, probably the most for the week, and earned 8.1 million radio airplay viewers impressions, Billboard reported.
“We definitely had no idea how big it was going to be,” stated Jeremy Erlich, the co-head of music at Spotify. “It just ballooned into this monster, unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. And I think unlike anything anyone’s seen before.”
The firm, which accounted for greater than 60 % of the tune’s international streams in its first week, responded to preliminary curiosity by rising its promotion of the monitor, which now sits on 150 official Spotify playlists. “It’s definitely not slowing down,” Erlich stated. “It’s the topic around the company and around the industry.”
The tune, written by Rodrigo and produced by Dan Nigro, begins easy sufficient: “I got my driver’s license last week,” Rodrigo sings over a fundamental piano half, “just like we always talked about.” But by the tip of the primary verse, she’s “crying in the suburbs,” and the music swells till a cathartic bridge that hits with a type-breaking curse phrase. The tune “successfully balances dark yet crisp melodrama with bold tunefulness, softly pointed singing with sharp imagery,” the critic Jon Caramanica wrote. “It is, in every way, a modern and successful pop song.”
“Drivers License” might signify Rodrigo’s correct debut as a solo artist, however she got here with a built-in viewers because of her Disney roles. Born and raised in Southern California, she grew to become a belting talent-show regular by the age of Eight and was forged first on “Bizaardvark,” which ran for 3 seasons on the Disney Channel between 2016 and 2019. Rodrigo, who discovered to play guitar for the position, starred as Paige Olvera, a young person who makes songs and movies for an internet content material studio.
She at present stars as Nini Salazar-Roberts on the Disney+ sequence “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” Last 12 months, a tune written by Rodrigo, “All I Want,” grew to become the present’s most profitable monitor to this point.
But like Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato earlier than her — and Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera earlier than them — Rodrigo took her experiences inside the Disney machine and tried to translate them for a broader, extra grownup viewers. Fans have speculated that “Drivers License” is about Rodigro’s “High School Musical” co-star Joshua Bassett, who released his own single — and car-centric video — on Friday.
Erlich, the Spotify govt, stated that there was “a ton of X-factor that made this the perfect storm” for Rodrigo, together with the gossip, the standard of her tune, the advertising and marketing plan ready prematurely by her label and support from celebrities like Swift. “It did align perfectly and quicker than anything we’ve ever seen,” he stated. “We’ve seen alignment like that, but typically it’s spread over three to six months — this happened in a day and a half.”
Rodrigo referred to as the tune “a little time capsule” of a monumental six months she skilled final 12 months. Acknowledging the “archetype” of the Disney star-turned-pop star, she stated that she had been nervous concerning the collision of reactions from “people who have never heard my name before and people who have kind of grown up with me on TV.” But she was thrilled to search out each teams .
“The cool thing about ‘Drivers License’ is I’ve seen so many videos of people being like, ‘I have no idea who this girl is, but I really love this song,’ which has been really interesting for me, because for so long I’ve really just been attached to projects and to characters, and that’s how people know me,” she stated. “It’s really cool to be introduced to people for the first time through a song that I feel really passionate about.”