SOUR is Olivia’s debut studio album, released on May 21, 2021. The album was written entirely by Olivia and her producer Dan Nigro. Originally planned as an EP, SOUR was expanded into a full–length album during its recording sessions.
Influenced by her favorite genres and singer–songwriters, SOUR is primarily a pop record that spans from energetic pop punk songs to bedroom pop ballads. Its subject matter centers on adolescence, failed romance, and heartache. Its title refers to the sour emotions that young people experience but are often criticized for, such as anger, jealousy, and unhappiness.
Click each song for lyrics, background information and applicable music videos.
001 | brutal | 2:23
002 | traitor | 3:49
003 | drivers license | 4:02
004 | 1 step forward, 3 steps back | 2:43
005 | deja vu | 3:35
006 | good 4 u | 2:58
007 | enough for you | 3:22
008 | happier | 2:55
009 | jealousy, jealousy | 2:53
010 | favorite crime | 2:32
011 | hope ur ok | 3:29
Sometime in 2020, Olivia Rodrigo signed to Geffen Records with an intention to release her debut solo EP the following year. Producer Daniel Nigro was suggested by a friend to listen to Rodrigo’s songs on the soundtrack to High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. Afterward, he “was completely blown away” and reached out to Olivia via Instagram, offering to work with her. The pair held a meeting to get to know one another only a week before the COVID–19 pandemic led to lockdowns in the United States. After figuring out ways to work safely during the COVID isolation, they started collaborating on music together.
During production of the album, Olivia decided that she would be releasing a full–length studio album rather than an EP, adding that the shorter length of an EP felt unsatisfying. Recording for SOUR took place throughout 2020 and into early 2021, with the final production session took place on March 30, 2021.
Three singles preceded SOUR‘s release, all of which entered the top three of the US Billboard Hot 100.
drivers license was released on January 8, 2021, to unprecedented commercial and critical success, with Billboard later declaring the single one of the most dominant number–one songs in Hot 100 history. Olivia then began teasing a follow–up single by archiving her past Instagram posts and posting cryptic teasers of it on her social media accounts in late March 2021; on March 29, she announced that it would be titled deja vu, set a release date of three days later and unveiled the song’s artwork – all in the same post.
When deja vu was released on April 1, 2021, Olivia announced on social media her debut album would be released on May 21, 2021, and pre–orders began the following day. At the time, the album’s title was teased as *O*R, though the full title of SOUR was eventually announced on April 13. The day previously – April 12, 2021 – Olivia sent out e–mails to fans via her newsletter. Each e–mail included a hint about a song on the tracklist unique to the country they lived in.
A third single for the album, good 4 u, was announced on May 10, 2021, and was released on May 14 ahead of the album’s release. Its music video, directed by Petra Collins, features Rodrigo as a revengeful cheerleader, and references the 2000s’ cult classic films The Princess Diaries and Jennifer’s Body. The choice of an energetic song provided listeners a different side of SOUR, departing from the slower and melancholic emotion of the preceding singles. good 4 u debuted atop the Hot 100, garnering Olivia her second number–one song in the US and the second from SOUR. It made Olivia the first artist in history to debut their first three singles in the top ten of the Hot 100, and SOUR the first debut album in history to spawn two number–one debuts on the chart.
The album was released on May 21, 2021 on CD in retail stores, and digitally through various digital retailers and streaming platforms, as well as on Olivia’s official website. The vinyl edition of SOUR was released on August 20, 2021, in various colored variants, each of which were exclusively available at Olivia’s webstore, Urban Outfitters, Target, Walmart and Amazon. Urban Outfitters also sold a cassette version of the album.
Upon release, SOUR received universal acclaim from critics, underscoring Olivia’s realistic lyrics and appeal to Gen Z, with many additionally dubbing her the face of ‘Gen Z’. Various publications listed it among the best albums of 2021, with both Billboard and Rolling Stone placing the album at number one on their year–end rankings.
Prior to becoming the fourth single on August 10, traitor landed at number nine on the Hot 100 as the fourth top–10 song from the album.
Olivia received seven nominations at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards, including both Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album for SOUR; Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance for drivers license; and Best New Artist. She became the second youngest artist (18 years old) to be nominated for all four of the general categories in the same ceremony, after Billie Eilish did so in 2020 at the age of 17. During the ceremony, Olivia received three awards – SOUR and drivers license won Best Pop Vocal Album and Pop Solo Performance, respectively, while she won Best New Artist as well.
A YouTube concert film and a Disney+ documentary, titled SOUR Prom and driving home 2 u: A SOUR Film respectively, supplement the album. On March 7, 2022, the album was certified 3x platinum by the RIAA. From April 5, 2022 to July 7 of that year, Olivia embarked on her headlining SOUR Tour in support of the album.
olivia on SOUR
I’m so stoked for the album. It’s just super versatile, which I’m really proud of. This is going to sound stupid, but I wanted to make it pop, alt–rock, alt–pop, and folk. I actually think I sort of pulled it off, maybe. I think there’s a wide range of songs on that record, which I’m so excited about.
I’m so happy with the album, which I was not expecting. I was expecting me to listen to it and be like, “Uhhh,” like everything that I did wrong. I truly feel like it’s the best that I can do right now. I wrote one song when I was sixteen, and one song when I was eighteen, but most of them I wrote when I was seventeen. It’s very much like a slice of my life in that moment.