Standing on a raised stage accompanied by a small orchestra at Red Rock Canyon State Park in California, 19-year-old singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo belted out her hit song “good 4 u.” This was one of many performances that fans saw in her newest documentary, “Olivia Rodrigo: driving home 2 u (a SOUR film),” which was released March 25 on Disney+.
Almost a year after the success of her 2021 record-breaking debut album “SOUR,” Rodrigo decided it was finally time to give her fans an exclusive look at how this creative masterpiece came to be. The documentary follows Rodrigo on a road trip from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles, the two places where, according to the film, she recorded most of the album.
“After watching the documentary, I felt like I was able to understand her songs better,” said sophomore Melissa Blanco.
Rodrigo goes through every track on the album and the story behind each one. Many hold personal messages about past relationships that made a mark on the young musician’s heart. From heartbreak and teenage angst to jealousy and longing, Rodrigo covers many topics that Gen Z knows well.
In the beginning of the film, Rodrigo said, “There’s nothing that connects people and there’s nothing that’s like a truer window into the human emotion than music.”
Along with the live performances at different stops throughout the road trip, including some at a run-down gas station and inside an abandoned airplane, the documentary features footage from the studio where Rodrigo wrote and recorded songs with her producer, Dan Nigro.
Adjunct Music Professor Darren Litzie, said that as a musician himself, he enjoys seeing other artist’s creative processes and rehearsal footage because of its relatability.
“In music and all forms of art, we hear the finished song, or we see the finished painting, but we don’t often know much about the journey that the artist took to complete the work,” said Litzie.
“I love seeing footage of rehearsals when musicians are trying to decide if this would be a good spot for a guitar solo, or if the drums should stop playing during this section,” he said.
Sophomore Kyla Hackett had a similar take and expressed that she feels closer to an artist after watching a documentary that shows a sneak peek into their lives.
“Usually, they do make me more of a fan of the person,” said Hackett.
Even if casual listeners may not be rushing to stream an artist’s documentary, there is no doubt that these films help bridge the gap between artists and fans.
“It’s a great way for a musician to show themselves in a different light and connect with their fans on a more personal level,” said Litzie.
“Olivia Rodrigo: driving home 2 u (a SOUR film)” is not the only documentary following a popular musician. Disney+ also features behind-the-scenes looks at the album-making process of Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish and Beyoncé.
Though Rodrigo is relatively new to the music world, she has had her fair share of time in the spotlight, with Billboard pointing out her other talent: acting.
According to Billboard, “Rodrigo broke through with roles on Disney Channel’s ‘Bizaardvark’ in 2016 and Disney+’s ‘High School Musical: The Musical: The Series’ in 2019, along with contributions to those show’s soundtrack albums.”
Whether she makes more headlines with her acting or stunning vocals, Rodrigo told Billboard that she has no plans on stopping her creative endeavors.
“I have a title for my next album and a few songs. It’s really exciting to think about the next world that’s coming up for me,” said Rodrigo.