I’ll be honest with you – I wasn’t originally a big fan of Olivia Rodrigo. I took one look at her first single “Driver’s License” and nope’d out of that fan club pretty fast. At first glance, that song seemed like yet another melodramatic cry fest from a Disney actress-turned-popstar. And I still hold fast to that opinion for that song (sorry, not sorry).
But “good 4 u” is quite another story. It starts off with a dark R&B kind of vibe, until it takes a surprising left turn into angsty pop punk anthem territory worthy of Avril Lavigne. You know it’s about to take off when that electric feedback hits your headphones. The music video is definitely a take on cheesy horror movies from the ‘90s, which I think really suits the tone of her angry lyrics perfectly. “Maybe I’m too emotional / your apathy’s like a wound in salt / Maybe I’m too emotional / or maybe you never cared at all” shows the stream of consciousness present in anyone upset at their now-ex for getting into another relationship so fast.
I knew I recognized that cheerleading uniform somewhere. A quick Internet perusal of other commentary showed me that yes, I was correct – that blue, iconic outfit was worn by mean girl Lana in The Princess Diaries (only one of my favorite movies of all time). Nice!
Musically, I originally thought this song featured a key modulation – but in reality, it just shifts its tonal center back and forth from the relative minor (as heard in the verses). This was a very slick way to audibly present the conflicting emotions experienced by anyone in the wake of a bad breakup. It all comes to a head in the bridge section, as the song hits a lighter, airy chorus-like interlude – begging to be blasted out car stereos – before diving straight back into the passionate angst. The dichotomy present in this song consists of a stripped-down bass line and drums, layered up against electric guitar and airy chords that feel like the polar opposite of the verses. This further sells the deliberate choice to emphasize the differences between the relative minor and major key signatures. I’m always impressed when the music itself takes on the emotion discussed in the lyrics – and this song does just that.
The concept video is a little ironically psychotic – since that’s the very thing the protagonist seems to blame her ex for “you’re doing great out there without me / like a damn sociopath”. But once again – crazy suits the narrative so well. A room full of gasoline and flames, alongside a cheerleading team is a lovely visual that collides with itself – but it sells the teen drama angle perfectly. Given that Olivia herself is still relatively young, it’s refreshing to see youthful honesty in a song that just about anyone can relate to regardless of age.
So long story short, if you’re a bit like me and maybe didn’t originally give Olivia the chance she definitely deserved – give this song a listen. I promise, having an open mind is good 4 u.
Watch this intriguing music video on YouTube HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNi_6U5Pm_o&list=RDgNi_6U5Pm_o&start_radio=1