Switched On Pop | Olivia Rodrigo’s “Drivers License” is a full throttle power ballad
A podcast breaking down the music of pop hits.
Switched On Pop
Published 20 January 2021
Olivia Rodrigo

Pop music surrounds us, but how often do we really listen to what we’re hearing? Switched on Pop is the podcast that pulls back the curtain on pop music. Each episode, join musicologist Nate Sloan and songwriter Charlie Harding as they reveal the secret formulas that make pop songs so infectious. By figuring out how pop hits work their magic, you’ll fall in love with songs you didn’t even know you liked.

Power ballads used to top the charts regularly, from 80s rock to 90s R&B. But then in the 2000s, the formula of constant escalation gradually fell off the Billboard.

Now, seemingly out of nowhere, Olivia Rodrigo’s single “Drivers License” is breaking streaming records as listeners yearn for the emotional catharsis from this contemporary power ballad.

With the help of David Metzer, professor of music history at the University of British Columbia, we break down how “Drivers License” sticks to an age-old formula, and how it deviates from a well worn musical path.

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