Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album SOUR broke records, and praise for it seemed infinite. Its success went as far as winning Rodrigo three Grammys, an achievement that is nearly unheard of within the music industry. Although SOUR did not win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, she was nominated for it, and she took home awards for Best New Artist, Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Pop Vocal Album, having been nominated for seven Grammys in total. Olivia Rodrigo is America’s new sweetheart, breaking records (and hearts) a million at a time while simultaneously being relatable to most Gen Z teenagers.
It’s safe to say that SOUR has addictive qualities to it. I, along with many others, have listened to it on a loop for almost a year and a half now. Thanks to its therapeutic effect, its aforementioned relatability and the cleverness behind the album title and song lyrics, Rodrigo fans — or Livies, as she likes to call them — have been obsessed with the album ever since its release in May 2021, and this obsession is not set to end any time soon. Nonetheless, the question of when Rodrigo’s next album is coming out is one that plagues many teenagers’ minds, since SOUR, as good as it is, has only left us wanting more from the young artist.
As previously implied, Rodrigo set insanely high standards for herself and, while she has spoken out about not pressuring herself after the success of SOUR, it would be normal (and expected) for her to push herself even a bit further after receiving such positive feedback. While she has revealed that she has a title for her new album, she claims that she’s in no rush to release it, taunting thirsty fans that can’t get enough of her work and have been dying to hear more the moment SOUR dropped.
During the first four months of quarantine, she challenged herself to write one song per day and, in a recent interview she conducted with Gracie Abrams, she detailed her songwriting process a bit more, not failing to mention the fact that she writes most of her songs in her bedroom. With all this information, we know Rodrigo has more than enough songs to build an album. Moreover, with Taylor Swift as her biggest musical inspiration, we know that she is no stranger to the art of compulsively writing and releasing music, which Swift is most notably known for. Why, then, has she not released any news about her new album, or even about a new single?
Being compared to artists like Swift is nothing short of nerve-racking, so it is predictable that Rodrigo may even feel a bit of pressure in releasing news about new music, as mentioned above. However, although she may feel pressure, this is probably not the main reason for her silent refusal to open up about her future projects. Conspiracy theories about her new album have crowded the internet mere days after the release of SOUR, and Rodrigo and her team’s intuitive reactions to the theories are no mistake.
In associating Rodrigo’s announcements and posts with tactics Swift has used in the past, Livies began theorizing that Rodrigo has plans to release a second album titled SWEET. In contrast with SOUR, they expected a new album full of Rodrigo’s sweetest love songs. Rodrigo took advantage of these speculations, posting pictures on her Instagram with shades of pink and light, lovey-dovey colors and going as far as to mention SWEET in her TikTok tour announcement. Nonetheless, SWEET is nowhere to be found across music streaming platforms.
It is undeniable that the music industry is, at the end of the day, a business. If you get people talking about you, there will be media attention following your every move. Every single move you make becomes a ploy in a marketing strategy. This is why artists tend to profit off of conspiracy theories their fans come up with and publicity stunts their marketing and management teams build up in order to get them trending on social media or other outlets. Rodrigo is obviously no exception to this: the SWEET conspiracy theories and the Rodrigo-Bassett-Carpenter love triangle publicity stunt exemplify this perfectly.
Despite her relatability and lovableness, Rodrigo is, ultimately, a singer-songwriter that seeks to garner attention to her name in order to guarantee success for her current and future projects, as well as to build a reputation for herself. This is why the fact that she has given nothing but cryptic hints about her new music is undeniably a marketing strategy.
Rodrigo and her marketing team know well enough that, after all the attention the start of her career generated, anything she posts, wears, talks about and simply does will get people talking. So, if she teases her fans with new songs that are written and a new album title that already exists but refuses to release specific information, it is almost assured that she will trend online. Livies will spend seconds, minutes, hours and days trying to decode a simple Instagram post that may be just that: a post.
To them, however, it contains details that are impossible to ignore. It is obvious that Rodrigo and her team know exactly what they are doing. In releasing confusing Instagram posts that her fans are sure to lose their minds over, Rodrigo’s team is making sure that her name stays on the trending pages while working to provide fans with content of the highest quality — once they are done playing with Livies’ hearts first. After all, Rodrigo is an expert at heartbreak, so it’s no surprise that she would use her area of expertise for her own personal benefit.
Graciela Battle Cestero is an Opinion Columnist & can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org