switched on pop

Olivia the Alchemist Does It Again

Photo: Jim Dyson/Getty Images

Olivia Rodrigo’s 2021 album, Sour, was one of the biggest hits that year. She had numerous singles and more than a billion plays. It made her a sensation. Part of the story around that time was a narrative that emerged about where she found inspiration: There were accusations of intellectual theft of riffs from Elvis Costello, of chords and stylings from Paramore (to which she had to give interpolation credits), and of vocal stylings from Taylor Swift (to whom she also had to give credit).

But as Costello said when we spoke to him last January, “For me to take issue with Olivia Rodrigo floating some lines over a rhythm which is shared in a whole bunch of songs before and since would just be idiotic.” So much of pop is about taking genres and influences and blending them into new compositions. Rodrigo isn’t someone who’s stealing. Rather, she’s pulling from a sprawling repertoire of pop music.

There are two songs already available from her new album, Guts, which is out next week: “bad idea right?” and “vampire.” On the latest episode of Switched on Pop, we listen carefully to those two songs, breaking them down to see how Rodrigo uses the language of pop to build her own unique stories.

Listen to the full episode below, and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Switched on Pop

Olivia the Alchemist Does It Again