The Nostalgic, Messy Fun of Olivia Rodrigo’s Guts

In this episode of the Pitchfork Review podcast, our critics discuss how the pop-rock star’s new album captures the spectacular drama of being a girl in the world.
Olivia Rodrigo
Photo by Larissa Hofmann

Our weekly podcast includes in-depth analysis of the music we find extraordinary, exciting, and just plain terrible, alongside the culture around that music. This week, Editor in Chief Puja Patel, Reviews Director Jeremy Larson, and Associate Editor Cat Zhang discuss Olivia Rodrigo’s sophomore album, GUTS. They dive into Rodrigo’s history, the album’s deep well of influences (from ‘80s ballads to ‘90s grunge to classic musical theater), and where it fits in the pop landscape of 2023.

Listen to this week’s episode below, and follow The Pitchfork Review here. You can also check out an excerpt of the podcast’s transcript below.

Puja Patel: Do we want to talk about influences that we hear on the album?

Jeremy Larson: The minute we heard it, I just sort of was like, here’s a playlist of 25 songs that I hear from going through this.

I think one of the main things that someone my age might hear is Elastica. I hear L7 and Hole and I hear a lot of Billie Eilish in this, too. They’re contemporaries, obviously, but Billie Eilish and Lorde have had such an enormous impact in the pop landscape in the last five years that it's hard not to just drink the water and taste some of that. On her ballads, I hear, like, Phil Collins ballads, like those ’80s, like Berlin, “Take My Breath Away.” That's just some of it. What do you guys hear?

Patel: Everything. [laughter]

Cat Zhang: Bringing in some younger references: on a song like “love is embarrassing,” I hear someone like Kelly Clarkson, in just like that sneering tone. “all-american bitch,” when she’s sort of thrashing about, I hear a lot of, like, Avril Lavigne or the All-American Rejects in that. Generally, I think about the Veronicas. And then in some of the more campy performance songs, a lot of her younger fans have pointed out that on “bad idea, right,” she sounds like Chapell Roan, who is another young artist who works with [producer] Dan Nigro.

I feel like a commonality among pop stars who work with him is that they’ve been doing these sort of bratty, rapping, theatrical songs with a lot of different sonic styles kind of meshed into one. I hear some Marina and the Diamonds in the way that she elevates her voice on “love is embarrassing.” When she’s like [imitates vocals] “I’ll give you everything,” that feels like a big Marina moment. And then some, like, Kesha also in her affect and the rapping. Whenever she’s being a little delirious, that’s what I hear.

Patel: I lost my mind listening to “get him back!” because I heard every song that was ever written in it.

Larson: You suddenly became one with the entire universe.

Patel: I swear to God, that is a banger. It’s gonna hit so hard. We should talk about that song in depth just because I think that is one of the huge highlights for a lot of the staff. Can I lay out all of the things that I hear on “get him back”?

Larson: Do it.

Patel: So there’s this whole stadium stomp element to it. Charli XCX “Boom Clap,” very clearly. Bleachers, “I Want to Get Better.” Taylor, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”

Larson: Huge.

Patel: Sleigh Bells.

Larson: Huge.

Patel: And then, Kreayshawn, “Gucci Gucci.”

Larson: Finally! Finally some V-Nasty, Bay Area representation on this podcast.

Patel: Like, rap-rock be gone, Kreayshawn, please enter the room here.

Larson: The Kreayshawn Renaissance. The Kreayshawnaissance.

Patel: Um, can we talk just about that song for a second?

Larson: “Gucci Gucci”?

Patel: Like, I’m telling you the tenor of her voice in that, and the kind of like, monotonous speak in it. It's Kreayshawn.

Larson: That also reminded me of “Pepper” by Butthole Surfers. Remember that song? And I’m going to throw out another “Recommended If You Like”: One of the greatest pop-punk songs of all time: “Fat Lip” by Sum 41, which is, like, rapping in the chorus and then an absolutely killer hook, you know.

Patel: Even Beastie Boys.

Larson: Beastie Boys, totally. Yeah. And for Cat, a modern reference would be for you is 100 Gecs, “Hollywood Baby,” which I actually think this album shares a lot of heart and soul with.