So, You Like Olivia Rodrigo? Here Are 5 Pop-Rock Acts to Check Out
Add these to your breakup playlist.
At just 18 years old, Olivia Rodrigo is well-versed in her pop-rock forebears.
The "drivers license" phenom's most obvious musical inspiration is Taylor Swift, with whom she shares a knack for lyrical storytelling, as well as an undeniable ability to write an affecting hit breakup song. Even while watching Rodrigo's arsonry-filled music video for "good 4 u," it's easy to remember a teary-eyed Swift destroying her ex's property in "Black Space."
While taking cues from Swift would be a smart move on its own, Rodrigo isn't just a Swiftie with a record deal: She's a lifelong musician who grew up crate-digging for records at thrift stores, who performed a Barbra Streisand classic for a children's singing competition at just eight years old, and whose musical references span from Carole King to Jack White.
Rodrigo's promising debut album from earlier this month, SOUR, was produced by Dan Nigro, the former frontman of Long Island indie-emo heroes As Tall As Lions. SOUR might be a pop record at its core, but the myriad influences of its creators make the songs feel fresh and well-rounded. With all this considered, it shouldn't be surprising that Rodrigo has won over Gen Z-ers, millennials, and top music critics alike.
If you've recently joined the Rodrigo bandwagon, first of all: welcome. It's great to have you here. Below, we've rounded up some like-minded up-and-coming pop-rock acts perfect for getting over breakups or blasting on the way to the DMV (we won't judge if you can't even parallel park).
Pom Pom Squad
Pom Pom Squad is the project of New York City musician Mia Berrin, who channels gritty alt-rock with a snarky, angsty twist. Not only do Rodrigo and Berrin both love some good cheerleader imagery, but they both cleverly use life's mundanities to bring their songs to life: "Fuck the MTA, I always miss my train," Berrin snarls on standout tune "Heavy Heavy." Relatable!
With her solo project Bully, Alicia Bognanno makes rousing power-pop perfectly fit for screaming along in the car. "Where to Start," a highlight from Bully's great 2020 record Sugaregg, expresses similar rage to that of Rodrigo's SOUR: "I live for you to tear me apart," Bognanno howls, a lyric that Rodrigo would likely delight in.
If the mellow psych-pop of songs like "deja vu" is more your speed, Jilian Medford — AKA IAN SWEET — is a perfect fit. Her recent album, Show Me How You Disappear, is full of slightly twisted dreampop, which acts as a stunning backdrop for her meditations on anxiety in the face of codependency and heartbreak.
Singer-songwriter Claud makes cozy electro-pop infectious enough even for the most bitter millennials to embrace their inner Gen Z-er. Like Rodrigo, Claud finds their strength in atmospheric, lovelorn ballads: the slow-burning "Jordan" boasts the same type of post-breakup storytelling that comprises most of SOUR.
Sharon Van Etten
Sharon Van Etten is well-known in the indie rock world. While she might not initially seem like a match for Rodrigo fans, the two draw from similar pop-rock influences like Fiona Apple. SOUR tracks like "traitor" and "jealousy, jealousy" aren't a far cry from Van Etten's cathartic art-pop.