‘Drivers License’ Is a Runaway Hit. See How Olivia Rodrigo Made Her No. 1 Song.


[dial tone] “Hey.” “Hi. Oh my gosh, this is so exciting. Can I just say before we start, I’m so honored to be on here. I watch these religiously, so thank you so much for having me. Singing: “I got my driver’s license last week, just like we always talked about. Because you were so excited for me to finally drive up to your house.” “It’s been the absolute craziest week of my life.” “Wait, so you’re second semester senior year, and you just released your first single?” “Yeah, first semester. I’m not even second. I’m dying over here.” “Is this your first number one single?” “Yes, by far, yes.” Singing: “Today, I drove through the suburbs because how could I ever love someone else?” “I grew up in the suburbs. I grew up in Temecula, Calif. I would sing at talent shows and stuff. I sang ‘Don’t Stop Believin’,’ which I think is on YouTube, somewhere in the depths of the internet. Singing: “Don’t stop believin’.” “I’ve always been obsessed with country music.” Singing: “Please don’t take my man.” “I’m obsessed with Taylor Swift.” Singing: “Devils roll the dice. Angels roll their eyes.” “I moved to L.A. when I was 12 years old to start filming a show that was on Disney Channel.” “One, two, three, four. Bizaardvark. We like to keep it weird. We make crazy videos and we look good in a beard.” “That’s actually where I first learned how to play guitar, which is a skill that has become very useful to me. And then after that show, I went right to ‘High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,’ which is the show that I’m filming right now.” “The cast list is posted. We have our Gabriella.” “The biggest blessing from that show is that I actually got to write a couple of the songs for the show.” Singing: “All I want is love that lasts. Is all I want too much to ask?” “I’ve been writing original music since I could speak. I just never showed anyone, ever, until recently.” “Somebody was like ‘Hey, you got to check out this girl, Olivia Rodrigo’ and I went on to her Instagram.” Singing: “And I hope you’re happy.” “There was a song called ‘Happier,’ and I listened to it and I was like ‘Oh my God. This song is incredible.’ She’s amazing.” “That’s how he found me and he DM’ed me and he was like Yo.” “Had you ever seen ‘Bizaardvark’ or ‘High School Musical?’” “No, no. I still have not and Olivia tells me I’m not allowed to watch any of it. It’s like a separate world for her.” “Actually, I truly had just gotten my driver’s license, and I had gone driving around my little suburban neighborhood, listening to music, and crying. I was listening to ‘Minor,’ by Gracie Abrams.” Singing: “M-I-N-O-R I’m minorly a star.” “There was so many intense emotions in my head and I was going through so much. And there’s so many thoughts, and so many different aspects of this breakup. So when I got home, I sat down at my piano.” Singing: “I got my driver’s license last week, something we always talked about.” “And I was looking through my diary, actually recently, and I literally wrote, ‘I got my driver’s license last week.’ And that was the opening of my diary entry and it’s the opening of the song. And then I took it to my producer Dan, who is like my favorite person to collaborate with, and I was like ‘Hey, Dan, can I play something for you? I think this might be the best song I’ve ever written.’” “And I was like, ‘OK, cool.’ And so she sat down and she played it for me on that piano.” “I haven’t taken a piano lesson in a really long time, but I think it’s called suspension, where you hit one note. And then you create different melodies with your other hand, that like — just this note over and over again. I feel like it’s kind of heartbreaking and it draws you in.” “Did you think about how it sounded like the door open signal on a car?” “No, I actually did not. I remember thinking about putting a car sound in it and I almost didn’t say it because I was like, ‘He’s going to think that’s stupid.’” “She had her mom go and literally —” “Mom, can you record your car? Open the door and have it beep?” [slamming car door] “And she was like, ‘Sure.’ And so she sent me a voice note of it and we put it into the song.” “Once we did it, I was like, ‘Oh, this is awesome.’ And then she hated it. And then she was like ‘I don’t like it. I don’t want the car sounds in there anymore,’ and I remember being like, ‘Nope, I think we’re not going to keep these car sounds in here.’” “I wanted it to go — I wanted it to be a little thing in it because I wanted people to make TikToks where they could transition into it. And I thought that if there’s a little thing, there would be a cue, and people did make it TikToks like that. So I’m really happy about that. But it goes — I love that, sort of, ascending. You keep going up with the chord. And I love seventh notes, and so I tried to put that in there. And it felt really powerful, and I thought if I went up with my voice —” Singing: “I know we weren’t perfect, but I’ve never felt this way.” “She originally wanted to sing it all falsetto, and I was like, ‘You need to belt it.’” Singing: “And I just can’t imagine how you could be so OK now that I’m gone.” “And I think that was the best decision ever. It feels so emotional. Throughout the whole song, it almost feels like I’m going to break.” Singing: “Guess you didn’t mean what you wrote in that song about me.” “It’s so desperate, like pining, and I think that essentially made the song what it is.” “There were a few other lines that you’ve changed the lyrics on.” Singing: “I bet you’re with that brunette girl, the one I always thought about. And you’re probably with that blonde girl, who always made me doubt.” “Yeah, I think that was the fun part about finishing up the song with Dan, is getting his opinion on little things like that.” “On that one word —” Singing: “Today, I drove through the suburbs.” “It’s that one reverb tremolo throw on ‘suburbs’ was my one moment of, ‘can we get one production trick in the second verse?’ We ended up recording the song, like, the initial version was 15 B.P.M. faster than what the version is that is out in the world.” Singing: “Yeah today I drove through the suburbs, and pictured I was driving home to you.” “It was way too fast.” “We liked the movement of it all, but we felt like it was more emotional when it was slower.” “She came into the studio on the third day, and she just looked at me — she’s like, ‘Dan, I’m really sorry, but I think we did it wrong. And we have to do it all over again.’ And I was just so sad. ‘Oh no, we have to do this’ — but she was right. I knew she was right” Singing: “ ’Cause you said forever, now I drive alone past your street.” “And then, with the bridge, he was like we have to make this a huge bridge. And I was like, ‘I’m hella down.’” “The word stop signs. I think it needs to be visual and stop signs. And all the sudden, Olivia was like, ‘Red lights,’ and we were like ‘Oh.’” Singing: “Red lights, stop signs.” “OK, it’s all the things you’re seeing when you’re driving we were like ‘Oh yeah.’” Singing: “White cars, front yards.” “I felt like we were on fire. We wrote it so fast.” “Dan was like, ‘What if we say I still [expletive] love you?’ And I’m like, ‘That’s brilliant. Let’s do it.’” Singing: “ ’Cause I still [expletive] love you, babe.” “I don’t like to curse in songs, but I’ll take credit for it if she wants to give it to me.” “And I think it’s actually really cool — that I did swear in my first song. It’s a nice, ‘Look, I’m an adult, I can say’ — I’m not an adult, but I’m 17.” Singing: “Sidewalks we crossed, I still hear your voice in the traffic. We’re laughing.” “First of all, people are so talented. And all of their covers and their dance videos just blow my mind. My favorite ‘Drivers License’ TikToks are the dog TikToks. They’re just my favorite thing ever. It was just crazy. My entire life just shifted in an instant. It was weird.” “The label is like, ‘Wow, the numbers are — everything’s great.’” “It’s No. 1 in the world on all streaming platforms and breaking all these records. But I haven’t left my house.” “When did you get your driver’s license?” “I think six months ago. I got my driver’s license, and I also got a song out of it. So I say, all in all, it was worth it.” “Are you a good driver?” “Yeah!” [car honks]



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