By Vianney Morales
Olivia Rodrigo has become a household name for many over the course of a year. The “Drivers License” singer rose to stardom following the release of her debut song and album “Sour” in 2021.
Unbeknownst to many, the 19-year-old pop sensation originated from the Inland Empire. She primarily spent her early years in Temecula before moving to Los Angeles after landing a lead role on the Disney Channel series “Bizaardvark” which led to her fateful casting in “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.”
In 2021, Rodrigo broke records and received multiple Grammy nominations. Shortly after that she announced her first tour.
In honor of her Disney roots, she filmed a documentary for Disney+ titled “driving home 2 u,” which is a reference to lyrics from her debut song.
The documentary entails the writing process behind each song on her “Sour” album. It’s revealed that she recorded the album in between Salt Lake City where she filmed “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” and Los Angeles, where she resides.
In the spirit of nostalgia, Rodrigo takes a road trip from Utah to California in the documentary and makes stops along the way to perform new renditions of her songs. Before each performance, we see a glimpse of the early writing and recording sessions for every respective song.
I enjoyed that every performance was in chronological order of when the songs were written. As someone who religiously listened to the album, I appreciated the new renditions of each song. It was especially insightful to see the creative collaboration between Rodrigo and her producer Dan Nigro.
However, as much as I enjoyed the film, it occasionally seemed like the producers played it too safe.
I mostly took issue with the documentary’s censorship of explicit language within the music considering the fact that the album has an explicit warning label. The cursing in her songs is what makes the album reminiscent of teenage angst.
Rodrigo tends to hold back when sharing her experiences that contribute to the writing process of each song.
While this was an understandable choice to avoid controversy, many fans craved context and hoped that the documentary would provide clarity.
Some would argue that Rodrigo’s overnight fame was largely due to an interest in the details surrounding the drama behind her real-life Disney romance.
Rodrigo has managed to avoid directly addressing her past which inspired her creative processes.
Documentaries are meant to convey complete truth and the film seemingly did its best to avoid doing so.
Other than that, the film solidifies Rodrigo’s pop princess status. She showed a drastic improvement in her stage presence and vocal performance in comparison to her early performances.
Her early performances didn’t reflect proper vocal training. To Rodrigo’s credit, her overnight rise to fame happened when live performances were deemed unsafe in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The documentary makes it clear that Rodrigo has been training to craft a brilliant stage presence.
Undeniably, “driving home 2 u” adequately grows fans’ anticipation for Rodrigo’s upcoming tour and even her sophomore album.