That Blonde Girl

“drivers license” Tops the Charts in 2021

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Sruthi Ramesh

Olivia Rodrigo and Joshua Bassett met shortly before the filming of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” in Utah.

Grayce Page, Reporter

We’ve all heard the songs, seen the TikToks and tweets; but have we really seen the work behind the songs?

On Jan. 8 this year, Olivia Rodrigo released her first single (not affiliated with Disney), “drivers license“.  The song was an immediate success, shooting straight to the top of the charts. Almost everyone on social media (mostly on TikTok)  was talking about it. Many found the lyrics and Rodrigo’s unique sound to be irresistible, sending the song to the top of the charts. But the drama surrounding it is what has been keeping it there for the past weeks.

There is much speculation of who the song is about, many pointing towards Rodrigo’s “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” (HSMTMTS) costar, Joshua Bassett. Throughout the filming of the show’s first season and sightings of them after the release, the chemistry between the two stars led to rumors of whether the two were dating. But nothing was confirmed or denied.

The drama began to gain traction when Bassett posted a story on his Instagram congratulating Rodrigo for the release of the new song, saying “drivers license is out now!!! such a great song! congrats @olivia.rodrigo!!!”. Fans were quick to point out the irony in his statement because the song was rumored to be about the two’s time together and his subsequent moving-on to another relationship (we’ll talk about this relationship later).

And you’re probably with that blonde girl / who always made me doubt. / She’s so much older than me / she’s everything I’m insecure about.”

— “drivers license”, Olivia Rodrigo

Bassett released his song “Lie Lie Lie” on Jan. 14, six days after Rodrigo’s song debut. The song starts out by saying “So they told me all the things that you said / runnin’ all over my name. / And you’re acting, oh, so innocent / like I’m the only one to blame“. These lyrics seem like a direct response to “drivers license,” as Rodrigo’s song mainly reminisces on their relationship, and how he could have moved on so quickly.

While it was confirmed by Bassett that “Lie Lie Lie” was written way before he even met Rodrigo, it seems suspicious that both songs were released back-to-back.

But after this song, the plot only seemed to thicken as people were now expecting a response from the third party of this love triangle- Sabrina Carpenter.

Bassett and Carpenter have been seen together recently in public, even filming a viral TikTok in their matching “Sharkboy & Lavagirl” costumes on Halloween. The timing of their relationship matches up with Rodrigo’s side of the story, with the boy she addresses in the song moving on to another relationship rather quickly.

In “drivers license,” Rodrigo says, “And you’re probably with that blonde girl / who always made me doubt. / She’s so much older than me / she’s everything I’m insecure about”. Carpenter fits this description, being a 21-year-old blonde girl, in comparison to Rodrigo’s age of 17. 

Fans following the drama only had to wait a few weeks for a response from Carpenter, in her song “Skin“.

The single, released on Jan. 22, made fans wonder if this song was a “clap-back song” directed towards Rodrigo. In this song, Carpenter makes many references to Rodrigo’s, like when she sings “Maybe ‘blonde’ was the only rhyme”. Subsequently, in her chorus, she goes on to say “You can try to / get under my, under my, under my skin. / While hе’s on mine / yeah, all on my, all on my, all on my skin”. Could this “he” be Joshua Bassett?

You can try to / get under my, under my, under my skin. / While hе’s on mine / yeah, all on my, all on my, all on my skin.”

— “Skin”, Sabrina Carpenter

Carpenter virtually confirmed this theory in an Instagram post, saying “I wasn’t bothered by a few lines in a (magnificent) song and wrote a diss track about it…”

As the final twist (for now) in this drama, Bassett released another song, titled “Only a Matter of Time” on Jan. 28. The single includes a very deep line that indeed could be about the current rumors surrounding the three Disney stars. He says “You twisted your words like a knife. /  Well I’m sure that you’re hurting inside. / Why would you make your pain mine?

Once again, Basset cited something other than his relationship status as the inspiration for this song, saying “I wrote this song in the summer of 2020 in a moment in time where social media was bringing a lot of darkness to my life.”  But fans aren’t buying his explanation, especially because of the timing of all four of these January releases.

Is it really a coincidence that these four songs came out so fast, back-to-back? While artists can release songs in a couple of days, it seems pretty suspicious that it all happened so fast. In addition, all four songs have skyrocketed to the top of the charts, even as we near February. As of Jan. 30, “drivers license” is still sitting at the No. 1 spot on the Spotify, Apple Music, and Billboard charts.

The most awkward part of all of this drama is that HSMTMTS is set to film a second season soon, meaning that both Bassett and Rodrigo will have to return to their roles as two teenagers madly in love.

So what do you think? Was it all a publicity stunt, or just a coincidence?