Finding yourself relating to Olivia Rodrigo’s “Guts” will make you feel seen—so seen it hurts.
I grew up with Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now” and Troye Sivan’s “Blue Neighborhood.” Which, as far as I could find, are perfect coming-of-age albums. Part of me thinks it’s because I was more of a K-pop fan, so I didn’t venture out to discover other artists. But then, it could be because of cultural differences.
Teenage life in Western cultures are different from Filipinos’. That’s why it felt as if “Speak Now” and “Blue Neighborhood” were only dreams of what my teenage life should be.
When Olivia Rodrigo dropped “Guts,” I thought it would be like her debut album “Sour.” Having “Vampire” and “Bad Idea, Right?” as its singles, I assumed it’ll be just another album that deals with ex-boyfriends and run-of-the-mill teen angst.
I was totally wrong. “Guts” perfectly captures the rage I’ve been looking for in a coming-of-age album. I found myself resonating with it. I wish I had it when I was 16 or 17. I take Rodrigo’s lyrics as advice rather than cry my heart out because of how much I can relate to it.
Rodrigo describes the album as a reflection of how she grew into maturity towards the end of her teenage years. She recalls growing 10 years older between 18 and 20—years “filled with lots of confusion, mistakes, awkwardness, and good old fashioned teen angst.”
Composed of 12 tracks, the 39-minute runtime is enough for Rodrigo to take us on a journey through her teenagehood. Raging about ex-boyfriends, awkward situations, and maturity, Rodrigo explored these themes through a mix of pop punk bangers, alt-rock tracks, and ballads, accompanied by lyrics that shook us to the core.
Rodrigo captured the girlhood experience by making sure that she captured the angstiest parts. “Guts” became an instant hit, reminding us of works by artists like Avril Lavigne and Hayley Williams. But it doesn’t veer away from “Sour,” it speaks of Rodrigo’s musical growth as she experiments with more genres.
Rodrigo sticks with her tradition of starting with a bang, beginning with “All-American Bitch,” a mellow-turned-pop-punk track where she screams against people’s expectations of her.
“I’m grateful all the time/I’m sexy, and I’m kind/I’m pretty when I cry,” Rodrigo sings in the softest tone in the track’s outro like the calm after the storm. Here is a girl who has to hide her anger and emotions deep inside—just like she was taught.
In “Lacy,” Rodrigo dwells on feeling inferior to a “smart, sexy, Lacy.” Although there are speculations on who Rodrigo was referring to, it doesn’t matter because we’ve all had a Lacy in our lives.
“And I despise my jealous eyes and how hard they fell for you/Yeah, I despise my rotten mind and how much it worships you,” Rodrigo sings about her love-hate relationship with her, toeing the line between envy and homoeroticism.
But if there’s one song in the album that’s underrated, it’s definitely “Pretty Isn’t Pretty.” “I could change up my body and change up my face/I could try every lipstick in every shade/But I’d always feel the same/’’Cause pretty isn’t pretty enough anyway.”
The pop song describes how Rodrigo tries to keep up with the latest micro-trends in fashion and beauty. But no matter how often she tries to change to fit in, it’ll never be enough as a helplessness comes down on her and many other girls finding themselves in the same situation.
Rodrigo ends the album perfectly with “Teenage Dream.” Like “Hope ur OK” from “Sour,” the track gives assurance, even if it’s tinged with honest regret. “Got your whole life ahead of you, you’re only 19/But I fear that they already got all the best parts of me.”
Being 19 and feeling like you’ve grown too fast and too soon shouldn’t be the norm. When we were younger, we all wanted to grow up fast—often failing to relish the freedom of our teenage years. We wanted to be mature enough to decide for ourselves at a point in life when we were allowed to make wrong decisions, have cringe moments, and be indecisive.
Teenage life may be full of moments that make you wish the ground would swallow you whole, but it’s (hopefully) the good parts that you’ll take with you years down the line. People tend to make fun of and invalidate the experiences of teenagers as if they weren’t once.
Pouring her guts out on her sophomore album, Rodrigo tells us that teenage girlhood can be emotionally gut-wrenching. The fear of missing out. A good late-night cry while you’re curled up in bed. A post-breakdown selfie sent to friends who get your humor. It may be messy, but this is what girlhood is all about.
I wouldn’t trade it for a picture-perfect version. Rodrigo helped me realize that.