I’m going to blame society’s collective obsession with Olivia Rodrigo, Joshua Bassett, and Sabrina Carpenter on the fact that most of us are stuck in our homes and have nothing else to do or talk about. But surely everyone realizes it’s all a publicity stunt? 

When my friend messaged me asking if I had heard “Drivers License” (still bothers me how it’s missing an apostrophe…) I told her no. Immediately, she sent me the music video and proceeded to text me about the celebrity teen’s heartbreak. If you, by some miracle, don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the 411. Seventeen-year-old Olivia Rodrigo is heartbroken because Joshua Bassett, her HSMTMTS co-star, is now rumored to be with fellow actress-singer Sabrina Carpenter. 

Let’s fast forward to now where Olivia Rodrigo’s song is now one of the biggest hits ever. 

I have nothing against this song. It’s an enjoyable teenage breakup song, but let’s be real here: this song would not be this popular if it weren’t for the drama that surrounded it. I can never prove this, but there are hundreds of good songs about heartbreak that haven’t received even half the attention as “Drivers License”. While Olivia has a following due to High School Musical The Musical The Series, this song has reached way beyond that realm of fans.

Why? This song created a drama beyond some lyrics about random, obscure people.

The original version of the song, that Olivia sang live last year, was meant to have the word “brunette” when singing about her love’s new beau. When the official version was released this month, fans were quick to figure the “blonde” must be Sabrina Carpenter. People are accusing her of ruining Olivia’s relationship with Joshua and are unimpressed with this year’s Forbes’ 30 under 30 winner, Sabrina. 

But let’s all get one thing straight, fame is fickle. Being a successful celebrity means you just need to be talked about. There’s a reason the phrase “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” exists. And frankly, all of this was just a publicity stunt. 

 

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A post shared by Olivia Rodrigo (@olivia.rodrigo)

Thousands of people are still talking about “Drivers License” and Sabrina’s new single “Skin”. People have rallied behind Olivia’s heartbreak, posting memes disappointed with Sabrina’s response. However, Sabrina has recently stated that, while her song may reference Olivia, it is not solely about her. She posted on her Instagram: 

 

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A post shared by Sabrina Carpenter (@sabrinacarpenter)

Despite the “drama” being due to a boy, few have fully discussed Joshua Bassett amid all the hate towards Sabrina (the usual double standards, because of course the girl gets all the blame). That being said, ironically, Joshua’s new release “Lie Lie Lie” is doing the worst out of all three songs.

That’s right: all three of these people happen to have new songs out all within days of each other. Due to this juicy PR stunt, Joshua’s worst is still better than it would have been without all the gossip. On top of that, Joshua has also just released a second new song today, “Only a Matter of Time“. The song is supposedly about his experience with haters on social media in 2020, but of course, people are still trying to dissect the lyrics for more references to the triangle. 

It’s too soon to know the success of “Only a Matter of Time”, but people were talking about it all over the internet in anticipation and as of right now it has more than 70,000 views on YouTube in less than 20 minutes.

His other song from last week “Lie Lie Lie” made its debut on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Chart within about a week of its release. There are millions of songs in the world and I doubt this one would have made it on this list at all without the love triangle gossip. I personally would have listened to Sabrina Carpenter’s song since I follow her music, but would it have thrived so much so quickly? Would it have been #6 on the US iTunes, #4 on the US Spotify chart, #33 on the worldwide chart and have received 1,857,698 opening day streams? Probably not. And then we have the song that started it all, Olivia Rodrigo’s first debut single. “Drivers License” has broken records and is currently #1 on Billboard’s Top 100.   

I won’t say the song doesn’t deserve to be on top charts, but her marketing team knew that pushing the narrative of Olivia’s ex and his new girl would be a great way to get the song on everyone’s playlist. Sabrina and Joshua obviously didn’t mind because their songs also benefit from the attention, despite it being pretty negative. 

All of this to say, the internet and fans may just be a little too invested in drama that isn’t as big as we think because this tweet sums up the reality: 

Nearly a year of quarantine has truly done a number on us.

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  • Talia Basma

    Talia Basma is an alum of the University of California, Davis where she graduated with High Honors and dual emphasis in Creative Writing and Literature, Criticism, & Theory for English. Her passion is weaving storytelling with truth and giving voice to life as a first-generation American. When she's not baking or reading romance, she's busy daydreaming about how to make a better world with the power of words.


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