It’s Totally Okay If You’re a Millennial and Love Olivia Rodrigo

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why millennials love olivia rodrigo
Photo: Courtesy of Olivia Rodrigo

After a lengthy battle between Millennials and Gen Z, we might have finally found common ground in Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album, Sour. The 18-year-old has unlocked feelings of teenage angst in Millennials at a level that even Taylor Swift couldn’t in her heyday. What Rodrigo has mastered is writing music for all teens, not just Gen Z teens, and we love her for it. 

When I’m (22F) going through something hard, I find myself reaching for things that gave me comfort in the past, like TV shows and movies that I connected to emotionally. Nostalgia has provided us with the comfort that we needed during the pandemic. Many of us have been rewatching nostalgic TV shows like Friends (which grew its viewership by 30% in 2020) and dressing like Y2K Paris Hilton, because nostalgia brings back normalcy and makes us feel good.

Sour combines the catharsis of our teenage angst with the comfort of nostalgia in a way that resonates with Millennials. Olivia Rodrigo’s 2000s-esque music gives Millennials the chance to go back to their teenage years and revisit the feeling of their ‘firsts’ — like their first love or their first heartbreak — in the same way that rewatching an old episode of Friends brings back our emotional connection to the past. You know what happens in The One Where Ross and Rachel Take a Break, but you’re rewatching it in 2021 to re-experience the emotions you felt the first time you watched it, because it feels good. Similarly, Sour allows Millennials to feel the emotions of their ‘firsts’ again, with a sort of cathartic pain that makes them feel good. 

The track that I think unites us the most in 2021 is jealousy, jealousy, which puts into words what it feels like to constantly compare yourself to people on social media. “It isn’t sad or ‘Oh, I don’t feel like I’m enough’, it’s ‘Oh, God, I’m so jealous’. It’s tongue-in-cheek, and a little funny to me,” Rodrigo tells Nylon. The lyric ‘I wanna be you so bad and I don’t even know you’ encompasses the envy we feel towards images we see on social media of people we might not even know. It’s almost embarrassing to remember that the celebrities, influencers, and models that we envy are total strangers to us, yet we expend mental energy on thinking about them daily. No matter how much we tell ourselves that it’s not the full picture and that social media isn’t real, we still can’t help getting caught up in jealousy, jealousy.

why millennials love olivia rodrigo
Photo: Courtesy of Olivia Rodrigo

Social-media jealousy is an experience that contemporary teens go through, but it is certainly not limited to their demographic. Insecurity unfortunately doesn’t go away with age, and Millennials also suffer from the feelings of inadequacy and envy that Rodrigo highlights in the song. She even tries to talk herself out of these feelings with verses like ‘I know their beauty’s not my lack’ and ‘Their win is not my loss,’ which sound like affirmations you would read on a self-love, body positivity, #GirlBoss Instagram post (that no matter how many times you repeat, you still don’t believe).

The fact that even Olivia, who is a conventionally attractive girl who fits Eurocentric beauty standards — and is most probably the subject of many people’s jealousy — still goes through this experience proves that there is no escape from it, no matter how old you are or what you look like.

I’m not going to tell you that the next time you see girls with ‘paper-white teeth and perfect bodies’ on Instagram, you should remember that they’re probably insecure too, because you won’t believe me. All I will say is that blasting jealousy, jealousy will make you feel good.

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