Olivia Rodrigo released her sophomore studio album, GUTS, on Friday, September 8th. The album comes two years after her debut with SOUR, the breakthrough record with songs like Driver's License and Good 4 You. On the new album, Rodrigo continues to explore themes of the teenage dream, crushes and heartbreaks through an angsty pop-rock sound that reminds fans of the 2000s. In the midst of the excitement of the new album, some critics think Rodrigo isn't progressing as an artist or is lacking originality.
GUTS is, similar to SOUR, a combination of ballads and party anthems. The lead single, Vampire, was released at the end of June, introducing Rodrigo's fans to the new album cycle with a gut-wrenching ballad. Rodrigo sings, "Blood sucker, fame fucker, bleeding me dry like a goddamn vampire," describing being taken advantage of by an older ex-boyfriend.
The album's second single, Bad Idea Right? returned to Rodrigo's roots of painting a picture of the teenage life. The song describes the feeling of being intoxicated and wanting to see the one person you probably shouldn’t. The production of the song leans into the pop-rock sound Rodrigo has previously explored on her last album.
With the release of the album, it was clear that GUTS is the angry red lipped party girl while SOUR was the sad girl next door. This is a differentiation also visible in Rodrigo's personal style and photoshoots for the new album cycle. In fact, Rodrigo began hinting towards the era through her transition in music, from girly to goth. Rodrigo is now commonly seen wearing black and red, and switched out the lilac purple for darker shade.
Despite the slight changes in visuals and music, concerns rose from critics complaining about the new album’s lack of progression from SOUR. One X (previously Twitter) user wrote, "bad idea right is basically a Walmart 0.99 aisle version of brutal. really would've liked to see musical growth from sour... it's been disappointing." Others came to the singer's defense and writing about saying how female artists shouldn't have to constantly reinvent themselves to remain interesting, a sentiment shared by artists like Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish in the past.
Meanwhile, publications are praising the new album's similarities to the last. Business Insider wrote, "Olivia Rodrigo's 'Guts' might be a second 'Sour,' but that doesn't make it a bad idea." Rodrigo herself shares the sentiment, although she doesn't agree that the albums sound alike at all. Rodrigo tells The Guardian, "It's so much about growing up and finding your footing in the world," going on to explain that GUTS is more angry than sad, which was the opposite for SOUR.
Besides GUTS being a replica of SOUR, fans are now convinced that the opening track to the album, all-american bitch, is a rip-off of Start All Over, a Miley Cyrus song from her early days. Fans shared their thoughts on X, with one writing, "Miley cyrus is either getting a credit or that bag through a lawsuit," insinuating that Cyrus should call out the similarities in the song. In the past, Rodrigo has been accused of stealing from other major artists.
Paramore's Hayley Williams publicly called out the similarities between Good 4 You and the band's 2007 hit, Misery Business. This led to the band getting credited on the song and Rodrigo granting them "millions of dollars in royalties," according to Buzzfeed News. Rodrigo also credited the producers of Taylor Swift's Cruel Summer on her song, Deja Vu after months of fan speculation of Rodrigo stealing from Swift.
In fact, fans are convinced that the grudge from Rodrigo's new album is about Swift, who was once her idol. Rodrigo sings, "You built me up to watch me fall / You have everything, and you still want more." This could be a dig at Swift allegedly asking Rodrigo for royalties on deja vu, after befriending and guiding her at the start of Rodrigo's career. When asked about the friction between the two, Rodrigo told, "I don't have beef with anyone... There's so many Twitter conspiracy theories. I only look at alien conspiracy theories."
Source: Just Jared
Rodrigo has yet to speak out on the controversy surrounding all-american bitch. Regardless, the album has started off with rave reviews, with The New York Times calling the record "triumphant." It debuted on Metacritic with a score of 100, the highest for any album this decade. Rodrigo's fans seem to be enjoying her return to music as well as the era as a whole. GUTS is filling their guts and ensuring Rodrigo overcomes the sophomore album slump.