Olivia Rodrigo: How a 17-year-old Disney star wrote the world’s biggest song ‘Drivers License’

Isobel Lewis
·3 min read
Olivia Rodrigo in the ‘Drivers License’ video (Geffen Records)
Olivia Rodrigo in the ‘Drivers License’ video (Geffen Records)

Olivia Rodrigo is one of the biggest success stories of 2021 so far, after her first single debuted at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In many ways, Rodrigo is your average 17-year-old. She makes music, fangirls over Taylor Swift and spends a lot of her time on TikTok.

She even spent her teenage years writing One Direction fan fiction, something she told Official Big Top 40 was “embarrassing” when she became friends with Niall Horan.

If that provides any clue as to Rodrigo’s rapid rise from unknown teenager to pop sensation, there’s also her debut single “Drivers License”, which is currently the biggest song in the world.

Rodrigo rose to fame in 2019 starring in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, Disney+’s incredibly meta mockumentary series set in the school where the High School Musical franchise was filmed.

Like many a Disney Channel star before her, the singer has gone on to release her own music, with “Drivers License” being released on 8 January.

The song quickly became an unexpected viral hit, smashing records around the world. It broke Spotify’s record for single-day streams – excluding holiday songs – as well as having the biggest first week for a song on Spotify and Amazon Music.

It has topped the charts in eight countries, including the Billboard Hot 100 in the US and the UK Top 40.

But why is “Drivers License” so big? Well, that’s partly to do with the alleged story behind the song, which has been widely speculated upon by users of TikTok.

The song and video follow Rodrigo as she drives around a suburban neighbourhood after receiving her driving license, something she was encouraged to do by the real-life subject of the song.

A number of TikTok users have speculated that Rodrigo is singing about her HSM:TM:TS co-star Joshua Bassett. In old videos, which resurfaced after “Drivers License” was released, Rodrigo said that her first time driving was with Bassett.

Fans say that Rodrigo and Bassett formed a romantic connection working on the show together, but couldn’t date as Rodrigo was only 15 at the time, while he was three years older.

However, the song seems to suggest that Rodrigo’s love interest has since moved on, as the lyrics go: “You’re probably with that blonde girl / Who always made me doubt / She’s so much older than me.”

Fans have tried to guess who the other girl is, with some suspecting it to be another Disney Channel star, 21-year-old Sabrina Carpenter. Some fans have even speculated that Bassett and Carpenter are going to release a duet soon, after discovering a Genius lyric page for an allegedly unreleased song by the pair called “We Both Know”.

One hour after Rodrigo announced the release of “Drivers License”, Bassett shared that his new song was also coming out, titled “Lie Lie Lie”. However, he later claimed that the song was written about a friend who was lying behind his back.

Neither Rodrigo or Bassett have confirmed that “Drivers License” is about them, nor that they were a romantic item in the first place.

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