The overnight popularity of Olivia Rodrigo's "drivers license" tells us two main things about ourselves right now: one, we love to to play detective, and two, we sure love to be sad!
On January 8, actress Rodrigo, who stars as Nini in Disney+'s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, released her single along with a moody music video. Two days after it dropped, it jumped all the way to No. 3 on the iTunes chart, right under two of Taylor Swift's new deluxe Evermore tracks. (Rodrigo is a huge Swift fan, and adorably freaked out when the pop star commented on her Instagram saying she was "proud" of Rodrigo's accomplishment). The music video already has over 10 million views.
Swift seems to have had a big influence on Rodrigo, something you can hear in the 17-year-old's vivid storytelling and songwriting. "drivers license" in particular is a beautifully sung power ballad, but it's the narrative at its core that has sent social media (and especially TikTok) into an actual frenzy.
The song tells the story about Rodrigo finally getting her license to drive, but feeling heartbroken that she can't celebrate her accomplishment with a certain someone, who's currently with another "blonde" person. Instead, she drives alone through the suburbs, thinking about the song he wrote about her. I guess you didn't mean what you wrote in that song about me, she sings. Cause you said forever, now I drive alone past your street.
"About 6 months ago I got my driver's license," Rodrigo wrote on TikTok. "I posted this photo on instagram saying how I was super excited to drive along thru the suburbs crying lol. after doing said crying... i sat down at my piano and though the experience might make a good song. so i wrote one. i posted it on instagram and ppl really liked it!" She also added that the car sounds in the song are actually recorded from her mom's actual car.
Now, many people have been theorizing in true Swift-style about who she is actually singing about in "drivers license," and there are some strong contenders (namely her HSMTMTS co-star Joshua Bassett and Disney Channel star Sabrina Carpenter). Here's the thing though — at Refinery29, we pride ourselves on being nosy, but we draw the line at teenagers' love lives. That said, what you look up on TikTok is up to you.