A New Decade, A New Album, A New Life—Olivia Rodrigo’s Next Chapter
Olivia Rodrigo is vibrating with excitement. We’re cozy in A-1 Record Shop in the East Village, listening to funk over the speakers and torrential rain on the pavement outside. She’s about to get the keys to a new apartment in Greenwich Village, and she’s entering her New York era: Her best friend Madison goes to Columbia, she wants to know where the good karaoke spots are, and she feels like the energy of any well-spent 20s—a little chaos, a lot of fun—is all around her here. “I’ve got to live my Sex and the City fantasy,” she says. (For the record, she identifies as a Carrie and Charlotte mix.)
Rodrigo, who came beaming into the record store like the absent sun, has her long dark hair in neat braids down her back. She’s wearing winged eyeliner and little other makeup, a lavender sweater, a long purple-and-white-checked skirt, and black loafers. Her face is as open as a fresh notebook; she wields her hot-girl powers gently. She clarifies that she’s not giving up California: For one thing, there’s no place better to listen to music than in your car. But, though she always used to roll her eyes when people would say they were more inspired in New York—“I would be like, ‘Whatever!’ ”—she’s spent a lot of the last year writing here, and she’s starting to feel like it might be true. She’s also been learning to be alone, for the first time in her life, and she’s found that it’s particularly wonderful, in the city, to be alone among a lot of people. Plus, I say, when New Yorkers see someone famous—
When the world—outside the narrowly age-gated if otherwise enormous viewership for Disney original programming—was introduced to Olivia Rodrigo, it was January 2021 and she was 17, and every single person with internet access and a pandemic-damaged psyche seemed to be listening to “Drivers License,” a song she wrote about her first heartbreak. She was 16 when COVID hit, and she was living at home with her parents, finishing her senior-year schoolwork, sitting in her bedroom watching her life change through a tiny screen. “Everything flipped on its head,” she says, with the release of that song, which was streamed 80 million times in a week.
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