The song at the top of everyone’s playlists and TikTok feeds right now is none other than Olivia Rodrigo’s debut single, “Driver’s License”. The song- that currently has almost 300 million streams on Spotify- isn’t just the heartbreak anthem of the year but the center of major drama. Rodrigo is clearly following in the footsteps of her idol, Taylor Swift, as they both write songs that pull on the heartstrings and about their very public love lives. I’ve broken down everything you need to know about the love triangle saga that inspired Rodrigo’s record-breaking single below.
Let’s start from the beginning- Joshua Bassett, 20, and Olivia Rodrigo,17 met on the set of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, or HSMTMTS, in 2019. Although it was never confirmed, fans speculated that the on-screen love interests were also a couple off-screen. The rumors shifted when Bassett and former Disney star, Sabrina Carpenter, were photographed together going on lunch dates and holding hands at a Black Lives Matter rally. Although the relationship status between Sabrina and Josh was never revealed publicly, fans were able to all but confirm the romantic connection when Sabrina posted this Tik Tok on Halloween.
For those of us following the saga back then, I think we could all agree that we expected the drama to end there. But little did we know it was just getting started…
The Release of ‘Driver’s License’
On January 8, 2021, Olivia Rodrigo released her debut single “Driver’s License”. Fans speculated that the song was a love letter to her co-star, Joshua Bassett, before the single was even released due to the title alone. In multiple interviews, Rodrigo was quoted saying that Bassett had taught her how to drive which led people to think the two were related. Once it was released, it became painfully clear that not only was the song about Josh but the girl he moved on with, Sabrina Carpenter. Rodrigo left many easter eggs throughout the song that got fans hooked on the drama and as they relate to the now-famous love triangle.
“You’re probably with that blonde girl, who always made me doubt. She’s so much older than me, she’s everything I’m insecure about.”
Carpenter is notably blonde and four years older than Rodrigo.
“I guess you didn’t mean what you wrote in that song about me.”
Fans have speculated that Bassett’s songs “Anyone Else” and “Common Sense” are about Rodrigo.
“I still see your face in the white cars”
Bassett drives a white car.
The Diss Tracks
Following the release of “Driver’s License,” all of the stars involved became very tightlipped about the scandal, even though their comment sections were filled with comments and questions. To be able to get answers people started deep-diving into their social media, searching for any hint or clue that they could find to confirm what everyone already knew about them. Little did we know, the singers were about to tell the whole story through their songs.
Rodrigo isn’t the only one releasing music as Bassett recently put out a single titled “Lie Lie Lie.” Since the song was released in the midst of the drama, fans think “Lie Lie Lie” is a response to Olivia’s hit song. With most people rushing to Olivia’s defense, the song could be his way of trying to set the record straight. Soon afterward, Bassett revealed the inspiration behind the track in a series of Instagram stories.
“I wrote ‘Lie, Lie, Lie’ after I found out someone close to me had been lying about me behind my back for a long time. It always sucks to hear that someone you thought you could trust would throw you under the bus when it benefits them. It happens to all of us, and I think all you can do is seek out people that build you up rather than tear you down.”
Although it seems like he’s alluding to Rodrigo from this post, it could just be a coincidence considering a demo of ‘Lie Lie Lie’ was first posted in November 2019, an entire six months after Rodrigo and Bassett’s reported break up.
It wasn’t until nearly 2 weeks after Rodrigo’s chart-topping release that we finally got some type of confirmation from Sabrina Carpenter herself when she released “Skin”. “Skin” was clearly all about Rodrigo as the lyrics seemed to be a direct response to “Driver’s License”. The most telling and talked-about lyrics of them all being, “Maybe blonde was the only rhyme.”
Impact of “Driver’s License”
Records aren’t the only thing this single is breaking as it has become the heartbreak anthem of the year just a few weeks into January. Four days after its release, the single broke the record for the most one-day streams for a non-holiday song on Spotify with over 15 million global streams. Along with this, it broke the record for the fasted song to reach 100 million streams and most streams of a song in a single week on Spotify, broke the record for the biggest global first-week streams for a song in Amazon music history, and the most requested song of a single day on Alexa. The track currently sits at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 list for the third week in a row with no signs of giving up its spot.
If you can take anything from this story, it’s that through heart-ache can come a masterpiece, because after all, we wouldn’t have this incredible gem of a song if it wasn’t for a little heartbreak.