Drivers License Story and Success


Sophie Divino

By now I am sure that you have heard the song “Drivers License” by Olivia Rodrigo. It is the only thing that people have been talking about for weeks. Aside from being a widely accepted “great song,” from the lyrics to the beat, there is also a large emotional appeal to the song which is credited to the backstory behind it.

Olivia Rodrigio is a seventeen year old Disney Channel star.  Making her first well known appearance on Bizaardvark, which ended in 2019, she then moved on to her bigger role in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. In this show, Olivia’s co-star is no other than Joshua Bassett, the boy who caused Olivia’s heartbreak. Olivia and Josh had gotten extremely close while filming the show, referring to each other as “best friends.” It was rumored that Olivia and Josh were dating after they started calling each other “Liv” and “Joshy” on social media. Also, during the show, Josh improvised an “I love you” scene to Olivia’s character. Apparently, Josh changed the lines to reflect their more personal relationship. It was so heartwarming that Olivia teared up. 

Things took a turn when Olivia posted a TikTok in the summer, with the caption “And that’s on failed relationships.” Similarly, when Olivia got her driver’s license in July, she stated “Now I can drive around the suburbs alone and cry.” Of course, this left hysterical fans wondering what happened with Josh. It appeared the relationship was officially over when Joshua had been continually spotted with Sabrina Carpenter, another former Disney star. The two had also appeared in each other’s TikToks, so it was rumored that Josh and Sabrina started dating after Olivia and Josh called it quits in 2020. 

The world first heard a taste of “Drivers License” after Olivia posted a video of her signing it while playing the piano on Instagram. She captioned it, “Wrote dis the other day. Very close to my heart.”

 Now let’s dive into the lyrics. Olivia starts the song about how she just got her driver’s license, something that her and Josh had been so excited about, since Olivia could finally drive through the suburbs to his house. While she never mentions Josh’s name, it is clear that the song is about him, given their speculated history and something that Olivia mentioned in an interview. In this interview, Olivia recounts the days when Josh taught her how to drive. Olivia also remembers that when they found out they both got the lead roles in  High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, her and Josh drove to Burger King to celebrate and hung out in the car. Clearly, Olivia connects Josh to this image of driving. Next, Olivia highlights the breakup and the newfound pain associated with driving as she sings, “But today I drove through the suburbs, crying ‘cause you’re not around.” Olivia then alludes to Josh’s relationship with Sabrina Carpenter when she says, “You’re probably with that blond girl, who always made me doubt. She’s so much older than me, she’s everything I’m insecure about.” Sabrina is four years older than Olivia, so the lyrics add up. The last notable piece that connects Josh to the song is when Olivia cries, “I guess you didn’t mean what you wrote in that song about me” at the end of the chorus. When Olivia was dating her Bizardvark co-star, Ethan Wacker, Josh wrote a song called “Anyone Else.” This song was most likely about Olivia, since it expresses how Josh desperately wants to be with this girl but he can’t have her. 

After Olivia released the song on January  8th, many angry fingers were pointed at Josh and Sabrina. People hated that Josh “said forever” and now Olivia “drives home past [his] street.” Although Olivia’s emotions are painful, she never asked to be defended. In fact, we don’t know the  reason as to why they broke up, so Olivia could have been at fault as well. I also don’t think it’s fair to blame Josh just because he told Olivia they would be “together forever,” as that seems to be the basis of all young relationships. You cannot blame someone for losing feelings. Similarly, Sabrina should also not be at fault just because she was the next  girl that Josh moved on to. She did not owe Olivia anything. Nevertheless, Olivia’s emotions are raw and painful, which is very evident just by analyzing the tone of her voice in the song. Fans of the song joke about how they felt like they had just gone through a heartbreak but they’ve never even had a boyfriend. I even saw a TikTok where a boy jokes about how his girlfriend  is mad at him since he won’t break up with her for five minutes, allowing her to listen to the song with a broken heart. 

The song  is so successful that Billboard announced that it was streamed 76.1 million times and sold 38,000 downloads in the U.S. Billboard also announced that it was #1 in the world on January 19th, and as of February 1st, it still is. On January 12, there were 17.01 million global streams, just on Spotify, setting Spotify’s record for most streams in a day. The numbers are continuing to grow. A-List Celebrities have been recognizing Olivia for her talents, including Olivia’s idol, Taylor Swift. Swift commented on Olivia’s Instagram post, writing, “I say that’s my baby and I’m really proud.” 

“Drivers License” is a masterpiece that deserves all of the recognition it’s receiving. Olivia, at only 17, was able to turn a heartbreak into a worldwide phenomenon. Who knows where her success will be in five years from now.