The ‘Driver’s License’ that sparked chaos in the music industry

By Maggie Kirwin, Floating Editor

On Jan. 8, 17-year-old Olivia Rodrigo released a song about a typical teenage milestone: getting a driving license. Since its release, “Driver’s License” has became Billboard’s #1 song on the Hot 100 Chart, received 260.4 million listens on Spotify, and the music video gained 86.6 million views on YouTube. However, the platform that the song truly skyrocketed on was TikTok. 

While most of the 505.2k streams have to do with teenagers dancing or expressing themselves via lip syncing, some of them have to do with fans dissecting the lyrics of “Driver’s License”.

Fans of Rodrigo believe that the song was written about her “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” co-star, Joshua Bassett. Rodrigo and Bassett were rumored to have been together for quite some time, but are believed to have broken up when Rodrigo posted a TikTok captioned, “and that’s on broken relationships,” on Aug. 16. Coincidentally, that same day Bassett and Disney Channel actress Sabrina Carpenter were spotted having lunch in Los Angeles. 

Listeners believe the song was about Rodrigo’s heartbreak after Bassett and Carpenter got together. Looking at the lyrics, Rodrigo sings “And you’re probably with that blonde girl/…She’s so much older than me.” Carpenter is indeed blonde-haired and four years older than Rodrigo, so the song could be about them. However, back in July of 2020 when Rodrigo posted a video of her singing “Driver’s License” before it was able to be streamed, she sang “brunette” instead of “blonde”. 

Despite this change up, fans still believe that the song is about Bassett because of the lyric: “Guess you didn’t mean what you wrote in that song about me.” Bassett released two love songs, “Common Sense” and “Anyone Else,” and listeners believe that one of them is about Rodrigo because of their supposed romance at the time of the release. 

After Rodrigo’s song rose on charts and fans started dissecting the song, the drama got messier. Bassett released “Lie, Lie, Lie” on Jan. 14, and the response was crazy. Listeners believed that the song was a response to the drama because of lyrics like “I know what you say about me/ I hope that it makes you happy.” Bassett, however, told his Instagram stories that he wrote the song when he found out his friend had been lying to him. 

A week after Bassett’s song was released, Carpenter released her song “Skin.” While she said on her Instagram that her song was not a diss track towards Rodrigo, fans are speculate because of the line “Maybe blonde was the only rhyme”. As mentioned before, Rodrigo references a blonde girl in her song, so fans immediately thought that Carpenter released her song to get under Rodrigo’s skin. 

Now, after a majority of the drama has settled, it is easy to take a look at it all and think that maybe this “drama” was a marketing ploy for Disney. What if Rodrigo was pushed to change the lyrics from “brunette” to “blonde” because producers knew it would cause drama? If that is the case, it makes sense that Bassett and Carpenter would release their songs within three weeks of each other. The songs would then look like responses to Rodrigo’s song, and fans would want to listen and analyze the lyrics, gaining more streams for the artists. Then again, perhaps the songs have nothing to do with each other as well. 

Despite all the luggage the songs may contain, they deserve all the attention they are receiving, even if there are messy relationships behind the lyrics.