The release of her single, “drivers license,” back in January 2021 launched Olivia Rodrigo into pop superstardom. With her follow-up singles “deja vu” (2021) and “good 4 u” (2021), Rodrigo proved to the world that she is more than just a Disney Channel child actress. Rodrigo continued to gain critical and popular appeal with the release of her debut album, “SOUR” (2021), which broke multiple streaming and charting records. Due to drama surrounding the album, as many of the songs seem to be about Rodrigo’s past relationship, Rodrigo kept a majority of the details of making the album quiet from the public.
Rodrigo’s documentary, “driving home 2 u” (2022), released on Disney+, finally provided an intimate look at the writing, production and creation of her hit album. The documentary follows Rodrigo taking a road trip from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles, as much of the “SOUR” album was written on drives between her hometown in California to Salt Lake City, where she filmed “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” (2019–). Along the way, Rodrigo reminisces over creating “SOUR,” while stopping at various spots along the way to perform all the songs from her album.
After a brief opening montage of various social media clips and interviews from the start of her career, Rodrigo opens with discussing and performing her song “happier” (2021), which was one of the original songs Rodrigo posted on her Instagram and what caught the attention of producer Dan Nigro. After seeing the video of Rodrigo on Instagram, Nigro reached out about working with her. “happier” was the first song the pair produced together and eventually led to the duo creating the entire “SOUR” album together. As seen in “happier” and a majority of the other songs on the album, “SOUR” was inspired by heartbreak and Rodrigo’s feelings of loneliness.
“Nobody understood how I was feeling or related to it, so I think by writing songs about exactly how I felt I was creating like a friend for me,” Rodrigo said in an interview regarding the inspiration for her debut album.
What makes “driving home 2 u” a must-see for Rodrigo fans — and for those who are interested in her music — is that she delves into the details about each individual song and the inspiration behind them. The documentary feels very intimate and unfiltered, with Rodrigo explaining specific details regarding each song. Rodrigo even takes time to address the drama that surrounded “drivers license” when it initially came out, which makes it one of the first times she has explicitly discussed this topic.
“I realized part of the reason I wanted to get my license so bad was because of … this boy. I always felt bad about being too young to drive over to see him. Too young to have any real freedom,” Rodrigo said when reading an excerpt from her diary which inspired “drivers license.” “I always thought he should be with a girl who had those liberties. I feel his hold on me loosen more and more lately.”
Rodrigo goes into more detail about the drama when she talks about “deja vu,” the second single she put out. It was never explicitly confirmed by any parties involved, but rumors that “drivers license” was about Rodrigo’s relationship between “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” costar Joshua Bassett, and his rumored girlfriend, Sabrina Carpenter, were the topics of conversation — and of many news articles — following the release of the song. Rodrigo was hesitant about releasing “deja vu” amid all the drama, because she did not want to seem vengeful or bitter.
“There was so much drama that was around ‘drivers license’ and so much hate. I thought if I put [‘deja vu’] out, then I was also playing into this drama love triangle, … and I just didn’t want to do that,” Rodrigo said.
After addressing the drama and performing “deja vu” in the documentary, Rodrigo moves on to discuss the rest of her album and her views on love and relationship that helped inspire it. Rodrigo specifically talks about a fan-favorite song, “favorite crime,” which captures many of her feelings about her past relationship. In “favorite crime,” one of the lines is, “One heart broke, four hands bloody.” Rodrigo included this line to emphasize that relationships are between two people, and when they end, both individuals can be at fault.
“Heartbreak is a two-way street. You couldn’t have gotten your heart broken if you didn’t put yourself in the position to be hurt. I think writing this song sort of helped me forgive myself,” Rodrigo said when discussing the guilt and sadness she felt when her relationship ended.
In addition to the behind-the-scenes footage and commentary from the creative process behind “SOUR,” Rodrigo also delivers stellar performances of all of the songs from her album. From a rock version of “jealousy, jealousy” under an overpass to an orchestral edition of “good 4 u” in a canyon, Rodrigo showcases her vocal and performance range, proving that she is capable of pushing her own boundaries and able to explore a variety of different music styles.
Rodrigo also surprises viewers with an unreleased song that plays during the end credits. The song, “baby is you,” continues the theme of heartbreak in “SOUR”, while hitting audiences with relatable, moving lyrics for which Rodrigo has become known. In one of the lyrics, Rodrigo sings, “I still can’t call anyone ‘Baby/ ‘Cause ‘Baby’ is still you to me,” emphasizing the pain she felt after her breakup and how hard it was for her to get over her ex.
Some might argue that the performances in “driving home 2 u” take away from the purpose of the documentary, which is to tell Rodrigo’s story of the creation of “SOUR,” although the performances only highlight a personal side of Rodrigo and the emotion behind the songs she wrote. It is because of her songwriting that Rodrigo was able to garner so much attention and praise and why it makes sense for her to have highlighted her vocal and lyrical abilities in the documentary. With the performances, behind-the-scenes clips and deep commentary, Rodrigo shows the world how much work went into creating her Grammy-winning album and the immense emotion and pain that sparked it.