June 15, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

See Olivia Rodrigo sing ‘Drivers License’ live for first time

Olivia Rodrigo fans, start your engines.

The “Drivers License” artist made her late-night TV debut Thursday with a stripped-down performance of her runaway hit single that took the music charts and social media by storm.

The highly anticipated appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” marked Rodrigo’s first time performing the song live since shattering streaming records last month. And judging by the top comments on YouTube, the 17-year-old pop phenom did not disappoint.

“She doesn’t need autotune,” one person wrote. “Autotune needs her.”

Wearing a cream cardigan — most likely a nod to her favorite musician, “Cardigan” hitmaker Taylor Swift — Rodrigo began her performance with nothing but a piano and an eerie, revolving spotlight.

“I know we weren’t perfect, but I’ve never felt this way for no one / And I just can’t imagine how you could be so OK now that I’m gone,” she sang, shifting gears to falsetto before belting the next line (you know the one) with feeling:

“Guess you didn’t mean what you wrote in that song about me / ‘Cause you said forever, now I drive alone past your street.”

Earlier this year, “Drivers License” debuted to rave reception from fans and fellow artists, as well as rampant speculation as to who exactly wrote “that song about” her. The most widely accepted theory is that Rodrigo penned the track about her “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” love interest, Joshua Bassett, who allegedly broke her heart in real life and has since been linked to another Disney actress, Sabrina Carpenter.

Further fueling the “Drivers License” drama are multiple singles recently released by Bassett and Carpenter that appear to double as responses to Rodrigo’s heartbreak earworm. And get this: While starring in the first season of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” Rodrigo and Bassett co-wrote a duet, titled “Just for a Moment,” about their characters falling in love behind the scenes.

Before “Drivers License” catapulted her to superstardom, Rodrigo also penned the most popular original song from the Disney+ program: a similarly emotional ballad called “All I Want.” The teen songwriting sensation is set to release her first EP later this year.

“[Gen Z-ers] have a particular insight on the world that sometimes adults don’t have,” Rodrigo told The Times in 2019 of her approach to songwriting. “If you have a bunch of old white guys in a room trying to write a song for a teenage girl, their experience is never going to be the same as a teenage girl living in 2020.”