“Drivers License” by Olivia Rodrigo, a 17-year-old Disney actor who most recently starred in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, has broken Spotify records for the most streamed song in a day.
“Drivers License” hurtled to No. 1 on the Spotify charts in just one week of its release. On Tuesday, it was streamed over 17 million times, the most for a song in a single day ever, a Spotify representative confirmed to BuzzFeed News.
The song is a melodramatic pop ballad about the liberation of getting a driver’s license so that the protagonist can see their partner on their own terms — only to have that dream crushed by their breakup. “Yeah, you said forever / Now I drive alone past your street,” Rodrigo croons. The tune’s crescendo, in particular, painfully transports the listener to the drama of life, love, and heartbreak in high school.
Amid the chaos of the current moment, the song gives young people — and, hey, even adults — permission to retreat to just worrying about clichéd teen drama.
The song is now one of the top trending sounds on TikTok, which also helps its popularity grow and grow. The more Rodrigo and others have promoted the song on the app, the more it has compelled people to listen to the full song on Spotify. As more people listen, others continue to post about it on TikTok and platforms like Twitter and Instagram. And on and on.
Right now, TikTok is rife with jokes about both the gossip and the obsession surrounding the song. (Adding to its popularity are rumors that it is about Rodrigo’s real-life love triangle with her former High School Musical costar.) People online are commenting on the enormity of the hit.
“Drivers License” is cutting through the muck of 2021 in a major but simple way. That’s because the song (the title of which is intentionally stylized lowercased) is of this specific moment. It’s a moment that Swift helped carry with her own lowercase-titled albums from 2020 that made a loud impact in spite of how introverted they felt.
In quarantine, Swift created inside music. People stuck at home craved music that was heavy on escapist storytelling and melodies that centered their emotions. Here, Rodrigo has really delivered that in the most basic way, and I mean that as a compliment.
For American teenagers, their most formative and experimental years have been violently interrupted by the pandemic. They’ve grown up knowing economic instability, and their political consciousness was awakened by the Trump administration. They deserve an uncomplicated ballad that speaks to the smallness of their world — crushes, dreaming about the future, and negotiating freedom with their parents.
Hell, I, an adult who’s almost 30, have trouble wrestling with the absurdity of our democracy, and “Drivers License” gives me solace. I’m instantly transported back to being in high school, having crushes, dreaming about my future in writing, and arguing about curfews.
Plus, “Drivers License” is simply a great song.
It’s a sad song, but it’s an accessible type of sad.
Heartbreak is one of the most common experiences of teen sorrow, and plenty of people are joking about it on social media.