The 64th edition of the Grammy Awards, the most prestigious awards in the music world, was recently held in Las Vegas. American singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo has made history by winning three awards at this year’s Grammy for Best New Artist, Best Pop Solo Performance Driver’s License, and Best Pop Vocal Album. But who is this star? Who is Olivia Rodrigo?
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Who is Olivia Rodrigo?
Olivia Isabel Rodrigo is an actress and singer-songwriter from the United States, who was born on February 20, 2003. Her starring appearances in the Disney television shows Bizaardvark and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series helped her attain notoriety. Rodrigo’s debut single “Drivers License,” released in 2021 after signing with Geffen and Interscope Records, broke numerous records and became one of the best-selling songs of the year, catapulting her to mainstream recognition. “Deja Vu” and “Good 4 U” were her next hits.
Sour (2021) is Olivia Rodrigo’s debut studio album, topped global charts and received significant critical acclaim, garnering her three Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist. In 2021, she was chosen Entertainer of the Year by Time, and in 2022, she was named Woman of the Year by Billboard..
Olivia Isabel Rodrigo was born in Rancho Springs Medical Center in Murrieta, California, on February 20, 2003. She was born and raised in Temecula, California. Rodrigo is multiracial, with a Filipino-American father and German and Irish blood in her mother. Her father is a family therapist, and her mother is an elementary school teacher. Her paternal great-grandfather immigrated to the United States from the Philippines as a teenager, and her family practices Filipino traditions and food. Rodrigo began taking vocal lessons in kindergarten and quickly learned to play the piano. At the age of six, she began taking acting and singing lessons and began performing in theater shows at Lisa J. Mails Elementary School and Dorothy McElhinney Middle School.
Rodrigo began playing the guitar at the age of twelve. She grew up listening to No Doubt, Pearl Jam, the White Stripes, and Green Day, which were among her parents’ favorite alternative rock bands. Rodrigo grew interested in songwriting after listening to country music, particularly Taylor Swift’s work. After securing her part on Bizaardvark, she relocated to Los Angeles.
2015–2019: Early work and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series and Olivia Rodrigo
Rodrigo initially appeared in an ad for Old Navy. Shortly after, in 2015, she made her acting debut as Grace Thomas in the direct-to-video film An American Girl: Grace Stirs Up Success, at the age of twelve. Rodrigo was nominated for a Golden Globe in 2016 for her role as Paige Olvera, a guitarist in the Disney Channel comedy Bizaardvark, which she played for three seasons.
Rodrigo was cast in the starring role of Nini Salazar-Roberts on the Disney+ series High School Musical: The Musical: The Series in February 2019, and the show premiered in November of that year; Rodrigo wrote “All I Want” and co-wrote “Just for a Moment” for the show’s soundtrack with co-star Joshua Bassett.
Rodrigo was praised for her performance, with Joel Keller from Decider describing her as “especially magnetic”.
2020–present: Music breakthrough and Sour
In the year 2020, Rodrigo signed with Interscope Records and Geffen Records. She negotiated the record deal to ensure that she retained ownership of her music’s masters. She released her debut track, “Drivers License,” on January 8, 2021, which she co-wrote with producer Dan Nigro. “Drivers License” was critically acclaimed within a week of its release, and it broke Spotify’s record for most daily streams for a non-holiday song twice, with over 15.7 million global plays on January 11 and over 17 million global streams the next day. It then went on to set a new Spotify record by becoming the first song in history to reach 80 million streams in just seven days.
The song debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and went on to become the most popular hit in a number of other nations. In an interview, Rodrigo remarked that “This has been the craziest week of my life… My entire life just, like, shifted in an instant.”
Rodrigo’s follow-up single, “Deja Vu,” premiered at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 on April 1, 2021, making her the first artist to have her first two releases debut in the top ten of the Hot 100. On May 14, 2021, she released her third single, “Good 4 U,” which became her second single to debut at number one on the Hot 100.
Sour, her debut studio album, was released to tremendous acclaim on May 21, 2021. The Forty-Charlie Five’s Gunn dubbed it “the greatest coming-of-age record since early Taylor Swift or Lorde.” According to Chris Molanphy of Slate, Rodrigo’s “early standing as Gen-most Z’s varied new musician” was established with the first three singles alone. Rodrigo is considered as one of Generation Z’s best artists, according to Clash reviewer Robin Murray, and Variety labeled her “the Voice of her Generation” in a cover feature about her. Sour debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 list and remained there for a total of five weeks, making it the longest-reigning number one album by a female artist in 2021
Rodrigo premiered Sour Prom, a prom-themed musical film, on YouTube in June 2021. Rodrigo announced a world tour on December 6, 2021, which would include stops in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Three days later, Time named her Entertainer of the Year. Rodrigo shared a clip of a Christmas song she penned and recorded when she was five years old on Instagram on December 24, 2021. Rodrigo ended the year as the best-selling singles artist in the world, according to Billboard, with eight songs charting on the year-end Global 200 chart, including “Drivers License” at number four, “Good 4 U” at number nine, and “Deja Vu” at number 27.
Sour was the third and fourth best-selling album in the United States and the United Kingdom, respectively, in 2021. Sour and “Drivers License” were Spotify’s most-streamed albums and songs worldwide, respectively. Rodrigo was named the ninth best-selling artist in 2021 by the IFPI, and Sour was named the second best-selling album.
Rodrigo announced and released the trailer for her Disney+ documentary film driving ‘home 2 u (a SOUR film)‘ on February 17, 2022. The film will be released on March 25, 2022.
Rodrigo got seven Grammy nominations, including Best New Artist, Album of the Year for Sour, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year for “Drivers License” at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards. She has won the awards for Best New Artist, Best Pop Vocal Album for Sour, and Best Pop Solo Performance for “Drivers License”.
Artistry and Influences
Rodrigo’s music has been classified as pop, pop rock, adolescent pop, indie pop, alternative pop, and bubblegum pop. Taylor Swift and Lorde are her musical idols and inspirations, and she calls herself Swift’s “greatest fan in the whole world.” Alanis Morissette, Kacey Musgraves, Fiona Apple, St. Vincent, Cardi B, Gwen Stefani, and Avril Lavigne are among her other musical influences.
Olivia Rodrigo has claimed that she aspires to be a songwriter rather than “the greatest pop performer of all time.” She claimed that she selected Interscope/Geffen Records as her record label because its CEO commended her songs rather than her “future star quality.” Olivia Rodrigo has been dubbed a “flag-bearer” for a new wave of songwriters who prefer power ballads “that are as emotional as ever, but the project that emotion inward, trading bombast for hush,” and her musical style has been described as rooted in heartache, mental health, and sadness, without being melodramatic, and expressing more realistic perspectives than resilient by music journalist Laura Snapes.
Olivia Rodrigo during COVID-19 Pandemic
Rodrigo was involved in a White House push to promote COVID-19 immunizations among young people in the United States on July 13, 2021. She discussed her efforts with President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Chief Medical Advisor Anthony Fauci.
According to CNN, Rodrigo plans to produce videos emphasizing the significance of young people getting vaccinated, as well as answering questions they may have.
Filmography of Olivia Rodrigo
- An American Girl: Grace Stirs Up Success— as Grace Thomas (2015)
Bizaardvark (2016–2019) as Paige Olvera, the main role
- New Girl (2017) as Terrinea Episode: “Young Adult”
- High School Musical: The Musical: The Series— as Nini Salazar-Roberts, main role, (seasons 1–2); recurring in season 3 (2019–present)
- Saturday Night Live— as Herself, musical guest; episode: “Keegan-Michael Key/Olivia Rodrigo” (2021)
- Driving Home 2 U (A Sour Film)— as Herself, it’s a documentary on Disney+ (2022)