As Olivia Rodrigo’s now-iconic breakup song, drivers license, turns a year old, we look back at a version of the song that could have been.
There are songs that become hits that give the artist increased attention. And then there are those that become cultural touchstones and give a level of fame and success that would usually take years for most to achieve. drivers license by Olivia Rodrigo is very much of the latter. Prior to January 2021, Olivia Rodrigo was mostly known as a Disney star, with her most famous roles being that of Paige Olvera in Bizaardvark and Nini in High School Musical: The Musical – The Series. But when she dropped her single drivers license on January 9, 2021, the young Filipino American actress went from just another Disney star to a Gen Z superstar practically overnight.
THE POWER OF DRIVERS LICENSE
As the song turned one this past Friday, Olivia took to social media to share a clip of her singing a snippet of the song a few days after she wrote the track. She captioned the post by rightfully celebrating the song that changed her life and thanking everyone who has supported the song and her.
When she dropped the song in 2021, it became an instant smash. Among other things, it broke Spotify records in just its first week and topped multiple charts around the world. It won a slew of records and also helped turn Olivia from a Taylor Swift stan into one of her friends irl. drivers license also served as the first single off her debut album, Sour, which would subsequently become critically acclaimed and lauded as the breakup album for the Gen Z. It spawned a sea’s worth of covers and a popular trend on TikTok where people would sing the song from a certain POV.
Widely rumored to have been written about Olivia’s split with Joshua Bassett, drivers license is an atmospheric power ballad and is one of the best breakup songs released in years. With a simple story of how she got her driver’s license but got her heart broken by her boyfriend, the four-minute track became the go-to breakup anthem across generations. Olivia Rodrigo and her producer Daniel Nigro served up a near-instant classic that has shook and shaken millions around the world. But while the song that we have come to know and love is indeed emotional, there was a possibility that it would have been even more charged than it already was.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN
Prior to the release of the song, Olivia teased the track throughout 2020. In now-deleted Instagram posts, she would share updates of the song and how it was shaping up. But one post that caught our attention was one she posted in July 2020 when she played an early version of the song on the piano.
As you can see, a few of the lyrics were changed from this version to the one that was officially released like how she says brunette girl instead of blonde girl. But the line that caught our attention was when she said, “And I don’t believe you when you say I did nothing wrong.” That one line and the way she sang it makes for a song arguably hits harder. The line was eventually replaced with “Guess you didn’t mean what you wrote in that song about me,” and while it’s not bad, the original pulls no punches. The original is less on-the-nose than the new lyric, yet it still speaks volumes of how Olivia truly feels about her ex.
And while we’re at it, let’s also talk about how she sings “Cause I couldn’t fathom lovin’ no one else” instead of “Cause how could I ever love someone else.” Fathom is a word rarely used nowadays, but it adds a bit of a poetic touch to the song. While we are definitely much enjoying the version we have now, it makes you think what would happen if Olivia released the original and really let out what she was feeling.
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