“Driving License” by Olivia Rodrigo, a 17-year-old Disney actress who recently starred in High School Musical: Musical: The Series, has broken Spotify records for the most streamed song in a day.
“Driver’s License” hit No. 1 on the Spotify charts in just one week after its release. On Tuesday, it was played over 17 million times, most for a single day song ever (17,010,000 streams, a Spotify representative confirmed to BuzzFeed News).
The song is a melodramatic pop ballad about the release of getting a driver’s license so the protagonist can see their partner on their own terms ̵
In a global pandemic and scary threats ahead of the inauguration, the song allows young people – and hey, even adults – permission to retire just to worry about tropey teen drama.
The song is now one of the most popular sounds on TikTok, which also helps its popularity grow and grow. The more Rodrigo and others promoted the song in the app, the more it has forced people to listen to the full song on Spotify. The more people who listen, the more people continue to write about it on TikTok and other platforms like Twitter and Instagram. And again and again.
Right now, TikTok is full of jokes about both gossip and obsession around the song. (Adding to the song’s popularity are rumors that it’s about Rodrigo’s real teenage love triangle with his former High School Musical costar.) People online comment on the huge size of the hit.
Even Taylor Swift, who Olivia has publicly idolized, congratulated her in an Instagram comment. Charli D’Amelio has, expected, given his most emotional choreography to it.
“Driving license” cuts through the ship from 2021 in a larger but simple way. This is because “driving license”, the title of which is deliberately written down as an important stylistic detail, is a song in this specific moment. It’s a moment that Swift helped with his own small albums (always, folklore) who made a high impact despite how introverted they felt.
In quarantine, Swift created inside music. People stuck at home demanded music that was heavy on escapist storytelling and melodies that centered their emotions. Now Rodrigo has really delivered it in the most basic way and I mean it as a compliment.
For American teens, their most formative and experimental years have been severely disrupted by the pandemic. They have grown up knowing economic instability, and their political consciousness was awakened by the Trump administration. They deserve an uncomplicated ballad that speaks to the little of their world – crushes and dreams of the future and negotiates freedom with their parents.
Hell, I, an almost 30-year-old adult, have trouble fighting the bad in our democracy, and “driving licenses” provide me comfort. I am immediately transported back to high school, have crushes, dream of my future in writing, and argue for a curfew.
Plus, “driving license” is simply a really good song.
It’s a sad song, but it’s an available type of sad.
Heartbreak is one of the most common experiences of teen grief, so it makes fun of the shared experience much easier on social media.