Star of Disney channel’s High School Musical series Olivia Rodrigo has taken TikTok by storm with her new hit ‘Driver’s License,’ with many fans speculating that it was written about co-star Joshua Bassett, and fan theories going viral. Here’s everything that’s happened so far.
17-year-old Olivia Rodrigo is a singer and actress who first made her Disney channel debut with the show Bizaardvark, and then later went on to star in a leading role as part of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.
Avid TikTok users may recognize her voice from the song ‘All I Want’ that she wrote for the High School Musical series. The song went unexpectedly viral on the app, with many shocked that the beautiful track had originated from a Disney show.
In her debut single ‘Drivers License’ Olivia flexes her insane voice and songwriting talent yet again. But many fans have theorized that the song could be about co-star Joshua Bassett, and it has got people on TikTok making theory videos matching up lyrics of the songs with aspects of her real life, boosting the song’s virality even more.
But how exactly did ‘Driver’s License’ become so viral, and what has happened since the song took off? Here’s everything you need to know.
February 2019 – Olivia Rodrigo and Joshua Bassett become co-stars
In February 2019, production began for Disney Channel’s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, which follows a group of students who put on a production of High School Musical for their school production.
Olivia starred as Nini, who in the show is cast as main female lead Gabriella Montez from the original HSM, and Joshua starred as Ricky, who gets cast as the main male lead, and Gabriella’s love interest, Troy Bolton. The show was also renewed for a second season.
August 2020 – Olivia Rodrigo hints at a potential breakup
The star was originally asked to write the song ‘All I Want’ for the Disney series, but it found an unexpectedly warm reception on TikTok especially, with countless people using the sound for their own emotional TikToks, surprised to learn that it was part of the soundtrack for a High School Musical series.
Olivia posted her own TikTok with the song in the background, with the in-video caption, “you think you can hurt my feelings? I wrote this song.” In the description beneath the video she wrote, “and that’s on failed relationships,” which led some to believe she had experienced a breakup – though it was unclear who she could have broken up with.
January 8, 2021 – Olivia releases debut single ‘Driver’s License’
Fans of ‘All I Want’ were thrilled when they found out that Olivia would be releasing her debut single, and it’s safe to say people loved the bittersweet lyrics and stunning arrangement of ‘Drivers License’ when it was released on January 8.
On January 9, not long after release, ‘Drivers License’ had ascended to number one on the US iTunes sales charts, a testament to the love the song was getting from her fans, and TikTok users alike.
January 9, 2021 – Theories about the song go viral on TikTok
It didn’t take long for TikTok users to get invested in the emotional meaning behind the song, and many took note of some distinctive lyrics that seemed to match up with events in real life, implying that Joshua was the one who could have prompted the emotional song.
User morganvybihal highlighted some potential ‘easter eggs’ in Olivia’s new music video. She appeared to be wearing a denim borg jacket very similar to one that Joshua wore in the HSM series.
They also pulled up an image of Olivia playing a keyboard from the show, matching it up with a scene in the music video that shows her playing a toy piano on the floor, adding to the references that could tie this song to the series in some way.
Another user posted a video in which Olivia recalls her first time driving with Joshua because she didn’t have her permit. The TikTok then plays a short clip of the song in which the star sings “I got my driver’s license last week,” and mentions how they always used to talk about it.
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Perhaps most significantly, many suspect that the “blonde girl” Olivia refers to could actually be singer and actress Sabrina Carpenter, as the pair have seemingly got closer lately.
Olivia herself has not confirmed whether the song is about Joshua or not, and seems she just wants to enjoy the success of her new song without directing hate toward any party rumored to be involved. But it’s safe to say that fans are hugely invested in the song and its meaning.
January 10, 2021 – Taylor Swift praises Olivia Rodrigo
Olivia has made no secret of her love for singer Taylor Swift, occasionally posting about her on her Instagram account, and she couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw that Taylor herself had commented on her post about ‘Drivers License’ being next to the popular singer on the iTunes charts.
Taylor wrote, “I say that’s my baby and I’m really proud,” leaving fans (and of course Olivia) delighted that the pair had a chance to interact.
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January 22, 2021 – Sabrina Carpenter releases song ‘Skin’
The attention toward Olivia Rodrigo has amped up again after Sabrina Carpenter, the girl that many fans assumed was the “blonde girl” mentioned in Drivers License, released a song of her own.
Her song is titled ‘Skin,’ and listeners noticed some lines in the song that may indicate that it’s a response to Olivia’s insanely popular track.
Sabrina sings, “maybe you didn’t mean it, maybe “blonde” was the only rhyme,” in a potential reference to the iconic “you’re probably with that blonde girl,” line from Olivia’s own song.
In the bridge, Carpenter also sings, “don’t drive yourself insane,” which many also took to be a reference to the theme of driving in the original song.
She has not confirmed that the song is actually about Olivia, but many fans seem to believe it is. Some have said they think the song was written to hit out at the young star, but others actually think that the lyrics taking Olivia’s side against haters, and those prying into their personal lives.
Please read this so you can understand. Sabrina Carpenter is a beautiful soul and has been suffering a lot of hate in the past few weeks! pic.twitter.com/9NZWZEYefG
— Mariana Gonzales (@mar1_gonzales) January 22, 2021
Regardless of the intention, the new release has brought attention to the situation again, with countless TikToks going viral for reactions and memes about the exchange.
‘Drivers License’ has quite literally become an overnight sensation, racking up over 9 million views within the space of just a few days. While Olivia hasn’t confirmed who the song is really about — if it’s even about anyone in particular — the song is still proving to be a huge hit for its heartfelt lyrics.