How Olivia Rodrigo carries Disney’s Pop-Rock + Punk tradition
Having already scored two No.1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 and won the biggest opening week for an album by a female artist in worldwide history from Spotify, Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album. SOUR has clearly taken the world by storm. But is it also ushering in a new era for teen pop-punk and pop-rock?
Ahead of the album’s May 21 release, and after Taylor Swift’s dark ‘license to drive’ power ballad and more upbeat ‘déjà vu’, listeners were taken aback when they heard the ‘good one. 4 u, “which garnered comparisons to Paramore’s raucous 2007 hit” Misery Business “and even led the High School Musical: The Musical: The Series star to perform a mash-up performance of the two tracks.
But Rodrigo’s rock influence spills over into the rest of SOUR on songs such as “brutal“and”jealousy, jealousy. “The album even sparked a wave of social media talk and claims Rodrigo is one of the artists spearheading the ongoing pop-punk revival, which is seen as shocking coming from a teenage Disney star – but it shouldn’t be. Although Rodrigo’s largely Gen Z fan base might not remember it, teenage Disney stars have historically dabbled in rock, starting in 2003 with the company’s OG teenage pop queen: Hilary Duff.
On his first album Metamorphosis, the Lizzie McGuire The star took to the genre through the hit single “So Yesterday”, and more specifically the bombastic (and slightly educational) guitar banger “The Math”, which likens a failing relationship to a difficult mathematical equation. Between bubblegum pop singles throughout her career featured tracks such as 2004’s “Fly”, which features such a haunting piano intro it could be mistaken for an Evanescence song, and “The Girl Can Rock” of 2005 in which Duff literally declares himself. “Living proof” that girls can rock.
Duff’s penchant for pop-rock inspired a whole wave of teenage Disney pop-rockers in the 2000s. Lindsay Lohan, Disney’s other teenage queen of the day (and Duff’s then-deadly nemesis) ), learned to play electric guitar for his role in one of the most iconic fake bands of all time, Horrible friday‘s Pink Slip. She then dabbled in pop-rock for her 2004 album, Speak. And actress Lalaine, who co-starred with Duff in Lizzie, attempted to follow in their footsteps with his own scary, sadly forgotten 2005 single “I’m Not Your Girl”, and although his musical career did not last long, the song remains a certified edgy hit (in the heart fans, anyway – unfortunately not on the cards).
Disney had to hang on to the perfect storm of teenage stars and rock music, because Hannah montana created the following year. Centered on Miley Stewart (played by Miley Cyrus), a teenage girl living a double life as a rock star, Miley’s most popular real-life fictional songs – including “Nobody’s Perfect” and the aptly titled “Rockstar” – were unmistakably pop-rock in sound. Cyrus’ own musical career followed suit with hardcore bops like “Start All Over,” “Fly On the Wall and“ 7 Things. ”The singer-actress must have felt particularly comfortable in the genre, since ‘she recently returned to her rock roots on Plastic hearts, his 2020 album which features collaborations with rock icons Stevie Nicks, Joan Jett and Billy Idol.
Around the same time as Cyrus’ debut, Aly & AJ recorded several pop-rock hits in 2006 with the empowerment hymn “Rush” and breakout headbanger “Chemicals React”, from their debut album. In the rush. While Aly had already appeared on Phil from the future, the sisters uniquely proved that Disney stars and pop-rock were a winning combo by first establishing themselves as a musical duo before acting side-by-side in the original Disney Channel film in 2006. Beautiful cows. Today, Aly & AJ’s music still has a strong rock influence, which can be heard on their excellent new album. A touch of rhythm puts you on your feet, then takes you out into the sun.
Rightly so, when she first broke on the Disney Channel in 2008 Camp rock, Demi Lovato’s debut album do not forget was composed almost entirely of rock and punk influenced tracks, such as “Get Back” and the ultra-emo “Don’t Forget”. Since then, Lovato has collaborated with several punk bands, including We the Kings, Blink-182’s Travis Barker and All Time Low, proving that the genre is one of his true favorites. And while Selena Gomez turned largely to dance-pop (and, later, R & B-pop) for her own music career, longtime fans will recall that her early releases included the “Falling Down” aggressively. sassy and hardcore collaboration with pop-punk band Forever the Sickest Kids titled “Whoa Oh! (Me against everyone) ”in 2009.
However, pop-rock took precedence over the pop stars launched by Disney after Gomez’s debut album with Selena Gomez & the Scene, Kiss and say. Until Rodrigo stepped on the scene, Gomez was one of the network’s last stars whose music reached mainstream chart success.
More recent Disney pop groups, such as Dove Cameron, Sofia Carson, and Sabrina Carpenter, have built modest but dedicated fan bases, mostly through moody pop and dance tracks. However, they did not see the success of their predecessors when it comes to touring arenas. And with the exception of Billie Eilish, there has been a noticeable drought among big teenage pop stars in recent years overall. Maybe all the post-Disney pop stars in need of a bounce are some scary guitar riffs?
While Rodrigo’s taste for rock and punk-tinged production is exciting for pop fans today, it’s nothing new to Disney stars: it’s simply a return to form. But just because she’s following in the footsteps of the early teenage stars who came before her doesn’t mean Rodrigo isn’t pushing the pop-rock genre forward in its own right.
Likely due to his recording contract with Interscope and Geffen Records rather than Disney’s Hollywood Records – where Cyrus, Duff, Lovato and Gomez made their debut – Rodrigo was given the freedom to shy away from traditional pop formulas and even d ” use mature language unsuitable for Radio Disney (RIP) listeners. In turn, Rodrigo’s pop-rock SOUR is both nostalgic and forward-looking; and ambitious and mature beginnings, especially for a teenage artist in her early days. Good 4 her.