Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘Drivers License’ Hit No. 1 in a Week. Here’s How.


The music trade’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 likewise an unprecedented TikTok-era smash by a youngster.

“Drivers License” by Olivia Rodrigo, 17, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Sizzling 100 singles chart on Tuesday, following a record-breaking first week throughout streaming providers like Spotify and Amazon Music. Alongside the best way, the autobiographical track 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 absolutely the craziest week of my life,” Rodrigo, who actually did get her driver’s license final 12 months, mentioned in an interview. “My complete life simply, like, shifted immediately.”

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. 8 by Geffen Data. The track was then streamed greater than 76.1 million occasions in the US 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 day by day document for world streams for a non-holiday track on Jan. 11, after which beat its personal quantity the following day, finally setting the service’s document for many streams in every 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 mentioned. It additionally bought 38,000 downloads in the US, probably the most for the week, and earned 8.1 million radio airplay viewers impressions, Billboard reported.

“We undoubtedly had no thought how large it was going to be,” mentioned Jeremy Erlich, the co-head of music at Spotify. “It simply ballooned into this monster, in contrast to something I’ve ever seen earlier than. And I feel in contrast to something anybody’s seen earlier than.”

The corporate, which accounted for greater than 60 % of the track’s world streams in its first week, responded to preliminary curiosity by growing its promotion of the monitor, which now sits on 150 official Spotify playlists. “It’s undoubtedly not slowing down,” Erlich mentioned. “It’s the subject across the firm and across the trade.”

The track, written by Rodrigo and the producer Dan Nigro, begins simple sufficient: “I obtained my driver’s license final week,” Rodrigo sings over a primary piano half, “similar to we all the time talked about.” However by the tip of the primary verse, she’s “crying within the suburbs,” and the music swells till a cathartic bridge that hits with a type-breaking curse phrase. The track “efficiently balances darkish but crisp melodrama with daring tunefulness, softly pointed singing with sharp imagery,” the critic Jon Caramanica wrote. “It’s, in each means, a contemporary and profitable pop track.”

“Drivers License” could symbolize 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 8 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 youngster who makes songs and movies for a web-based content material studio.

She at the moment stars as Nini Salazar-Roberts on the Disney+ collection “Excessive Faculty Musical: The Musical: The Collection.” Final 12 months, a track written by Rodrigo, “All I Need,” grew to become the present’s most profitable monitor up to now.

However 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 throughout the Disney machine and tried to translate them for a broader, extra grownup viewers. Fans have speculated that “Drivers License” is about Rodigro’s “Excessive Faculty Musical” co-star Joshua Bassett, who released his own single — and car-centric video — on Friday.

Erlich, the Spotify government, mentioned that there was “a ton of X-factor that made this the proper storm” for Rodrigo, together with the gossip, the standard of her track, the advertising plan ready upfront by her label and support from celebrities like Swift and the TikToker Charli D’Amelio. “It did align completely and faster than something we’ve ever seen,” he mentioned. “We’ve seen alignment like that, however usually it’s unfold over three to 6 months — this occurred in a day and a half.”

Rodrigo known as the track “a little bit time capsule” of a monumental six months she skilled final 12 months. Acknowledging the “archetype” of the Disney star-turned-pop star, she mentioned that she had been nervous concerning the collision of reactions from “individuals who have by no means heard my title earlier than and individuals who have type of grown up with me on TV.” However she was thrilled to seek out each teams .

“The cool factor about ‘Drivers License’ is I’ve seen so many movies of individuals being like, ‘I do not know who this woman is, however I actually love this track,’ which has been actually attention-grabbing for me, as a result of for therefore lengthy I’ve actually simply been hooked up to initiatives and to characters, and that’s how individuals know me,” she mentioned. “It’s actually cool to be launched to individuals for the primary time by means of a track that I really feel actually obsessed with.”





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