Olivia Rodrigo feels her transition from Disney+ star to full-fledged pop star has been an "absolute dream" (explicit lyrics included). In fact, she's quite cognizant of the freedoms she experiences when writing her music, compared to the Disney stars before her.
Speaking with NYLON in an interview published on Wednesday, May 19, the "good 4 u" singer explained that she's "very aware" of "that classic 'Disney pop girl' archetype" that fans might associate with Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez, who all launched huge music careers after starring in their respective Disney Channel shows.
However, Olivia, 18, isn't entirely viewed the same way, and she's grateful she's achieving something that the 2000s stars may not have been able to.
"My music is definitely separate from my acting in a way I always dreamed would happen," she shared. "When 'drivers license' came out, everyone was like, 'I have no idea who this Olivia Rodrigo girl is, but I love this song.' That is the absolute dream for me, because I've always wanted to be taken seriously as a songwriter."
The High School Musical: The Musical: The Series actress explained, "Being an actor can interfere with that, just because being an actor is based on telling lies, and being a songwriter is based on telling the absolute, whole truth."
Ever since Olivia released three singles from her upcoming album SOUR, fans have embraced her use of explicit language. In "drivers license," there's "Cause I still f--kin' love you, babe" and in "good 4 you," she sings, "Baby, what the f--k is up with that?" Not to mention, the TikTok-viral phrase "like a damn sociopath."
Even the singer has noticed how often fans have pointed out her use of curse words: "People always ask me, 'Oh, did you say f--k in ‘drivers license' to show that you aren't just a Disney star?'"
Despite what you might think, it's not her intention to push the boundaries just for the sake of it.
"It's cool that people might think that," she revealed, "but I'm just making music that I love and that I feel passionate about. It's who I am. I have a dirty mouth. It was what felt natural and good to me, and people resonated with that."
But, if she's helping change the culture, that's fine, too. As she put it, "If I am ushering in a new generation of pop stars that aren't afraid to speak their mind, that's so cool. I'm just doing my thing, though."
On top of her freedom with lyrics, she was also reflective of how her experience with celebrity itself is different from those before her. Olivia recalled her reaction to the buzzy New York Times documentary, "Framing Britney Spears," saying she had "no idea" about Britney Spears' "awful" treatment before watching.
"I was experiencing it all for the first time," the songwriter said. "We've come so far. But we haven't really come that far, you know what I mean? It was eye-opening to see the sexist, awful things that people would say to her that were deemed OK back then."
One career she's followed more closely is that of Taylor Swift, her idol, whom she met last week at the BRIT Awards. And let's just say, she's taking notes.
From Taylor's work, she's learned about the "impact" music can have on listeners who relate to the lyrics. For example, like many Swifties, she thinks "All Too Well" is about Jake Gyllenhaal, thanks to the "maple lattes" Easter Egg. "I'm so invested in that. I'm creating a spreadsheet in my head," she joked to NYLON. "But at the end of the day, I'm like, 'No. She wrote that song about me going through my breakup. I relate to that, and that's impactful to me.'"
Likewise, fans gossip about who Olivia's songs are about, but she tries to block out the noise. She explained, "I don't take it personally... I completely understand. And you know, lots of times, it isn't malicious. Most of the time, I guess. It's none of my business. I write my songs and people can say whatever they want to say about it."
She simply added, "[They can] think whatever they want to think about my life and that's just part of it. It doesn't really bother me."
SOUR drops on Friday, May 21. Read her full interview here.