“Brutal” by Olivia Rodrigo

When Olivia Rodrigo first came out earlier in 2021 with her hit debut single “Drivers License“, most people took it that the story featured therein was based on her real life. And whereas ultimately proof of such has been circumstantial, it was still very much credible. So it’s sort of like Rodrigo established herself as a reality singer. In fact she had ventured hardcore into the music industry after first having been a pretty well-known Disney actress beforehand.


And it’s that “actress” part that we really want you to focus on. We know that some young female singers – such as Olivia’s idol, Taylor Swift – may have, during their earlier days, grounded the content of their song on what has or was happening to them for real. But even Taylor Swift would at times take on a character. Or even if one of her tunes is based on her real life, that does not mean she may not engage in some embellishment or fictionalization to make the story more sentimental. 

Or put more plainly, all because a musician, even in this day and age, may sing about something, that doesn’t necessarily mean that she is literally going through it word-for-word.

And the reason we feel a need to point that out at the beginning of our overall analysis of “Sour”, beginning with a song like “Brutal”, is based on a conclusion that we came to after taking a look at “1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back” a couple of days ago. And that’s Olivia Rodrigo’s words being pretty darn mature for her age. 

Teen Life

Granted, we acknowledge that being a teenager in today’s world is not easy at all. We would also go further by putting forth that this would be especially true for young ladies. But that said, we do in fact know how it feels to be teenagers ourselves. And whereas life can be utterly miserable even at that age, generally speaking you’re not going to be sitting around having depressingly-existential soliloquies. That’s rather what we more commonly refer to as a midlife crisis. 

The teenage years are instead an era when vigor and optimism are usually at their peak, even if some other factors may be seriously out of whack. And we would venture to say, even though we’ve never been rich and famous ourselves, that such would be particularly for a budding pop star like Olivia Rodrigo.

The lyrics of “Brutal”

So with that in mind, we’re not going to take this song as being about the vocalist literally. For instance, you’re not likely to ever come across someone who just turned 18 talking about ‘quitting a job and starting a new life’. What she is speaking to is more along the lines of a concept, something which the co-writer of “Brutal”, a male who is over twice her age, could also likely relate to. And that idea would be something like youth not being all it’s cracked up to be.

You have all these people walking around like being in your teens is supposed to be the sh*t. You know, those ‘college are the best four years of your life’ type of people. And the narrator, being of this age herself, is sort of like ‘f**k do they know’? She’s 18 and is already experienced in dealing with a plethora of self-esteem issues. Basically, when you feel like “no one wants” you, such would likely prove to be an issue, regardless of how old or young you may be.

Song’s Premise

And macrocosmically the above would be the premise upon which this song is set, that this is a socially “brutal” world that we live in. And yes, we also know as former teenagers that it is also during youth where what people say about or do to you, even if indirectly (i.e. socialization), has the most effect on one’s self-image. 

The character which the songstress is portraying is one such individual whose ego has been crushed accordingly. And yes, we are compelled to conclude that she is by and large portraying a character, for we have yet to hear anyone say for instance that Olivia Rodrigo is “not cool”.

But this is not to imply that she has never dealt with self-esteem issues, because virtually all of us have. Nor are we saying that now being rich and famous she no longer has to. Actually part and parcel of being a celebrity is having to constantly deal with negative commentary. But what we are actually theorizing is that more so than currently living these lyrics, Olivia Rodrigo is empathizing and sympathizing with those who are.

Lyrics to "Brutal"

Quick Facts about “Brutal”

Despite being the first song on the playlist of “Sour”, Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album, “Brutal” was actually the last one written. And it was done so by Rodrigo alongside her regular collaborator, Dan Nigro. And it is also Nigro who produced the track.

Furthermore, it was Olivia herself who demanded that “Brutal” be the first song on the album.

This track, as well as the overall project it is featured on, is a product of Geffen Records in conjunction with Interscope Records.


Olivia and her team didn’t release it as a single. “Sour” was supported by only the following singles:

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