The definitive ranking of Olivia Rodrigo's 'Sour' songs, one year later
Olivia Rodrigo released her debut album "Sour" on May 21, 2021.
For its first anniversary, Insider's music reporter ranked all 11 songs on the tracklist.
Rodrigo's smash hit "Drivers License" topped the list. "Hope Ur Ok" was ranked the worst.
11. "Hope Ur Ok"
I previously described "Hope Ur Ok" as "a little too Disney" and was promptly torn apart on Twitter for "missing the point of the song."
Let's be clear: I was not referring to the lyrics, which describe Rodrigo's support for LGBTQ kids who are rejected by their family members. As a queer woman myself, I absolutely recognize the comforting impact of these words, particularly for younger listeners.
I was referring to the well-documented tradition of "Uplifting Ballad" by Young Disney Star(s). These tend to offer heavy-handed affirmations and vague promises of "it gets better" over twinkly guitar chords.
Although "Hope Ur Ok" does feel more authentic than many of its corny peers, it pales in comparison to the specific surveys of rage and despair found elsewhere on "Sour" — particularly because it's the final song on the tracklist. It's not the lasting taste I would've chosen for the album.
10. "1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back"
Listen, I love this song, but something had to land near the bottom of this ranking. That's how rankings work.
"1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back" suffers simply by virtue of repetition. The piano line, taken from Taylor Swift's 2017 track "New Year's Day," is the most obvious interpolation on the album by far.
Even though my play count for "1 Steps Forward" has now far surpassed "New Year's Day," I had years of associating its chords with the latter. The echo of Swift's voice in my brain can be a little distracting.
I prefer Rodrigo's rendition with an acoustic guitar that she performs on tour; it allows her heart-wrenching, prophetic lyricism to really shine.
"Happier" is another track that dazzles lyrically (standout line: "Do you tell her she's the most beautiful girl you've ever seen? / And eternal love bullshit you know you'll never mean") but suffers slightly in execution.
The chorus feels a bit clunky, even if the delivery does mirror Rodrigo's description of holding back on the verge of combustion.
8. "Enough for You"
"Enough For You" made me cry when I first heard it and still, one year later, it rarely fails to get me a little misty-eyed.
This is a song that demands your attention; it's not designed for a casual Tuesday afternoon. For this reason, it's not a staple in Spotify rotation because sometimes I just can't handle it.
That's not a slight against the song. If anything, it's a vote of confidence for Rodrigo's songwriting prowess. But "Enough For You" lacks a certain blend of emotional poignancy and listenability that other songs on the album achieve easily.
7. "Jealousy, Jealousy"
"Jealousy, Jealousy" boasts one of the best bridges in recent pop history.
After setting the scene of an obsessive Instagram binge, full of "paper-white teeth" and "cool vintage clothes," she totally loses her cool — embracing the exact brand of messy, insecure imperfection that social media condemns.
It's the perfect payoff — an exorcism disguised as a bratty rant.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that my brain starts blasting the chorus of "Traitor" at least once a day as if someone dropped the needle on my internal turntable at precisely the right moment. Rodrigo's swelling vocal delivery of the words "betrayed me" and "sorry" is unforgettable pop perfection.
And that's just a precursor for the bridge, one of the album's crown-jewel couplets ("God, I wish that you had thought this through / Before I went and fell in love with you"), which is one of those lyrics that just makes you sigh and say, "Yes, exactly."
5. "Good 4 U"
The charm of "Good 4 U" is immediate and relentless, manifesting in winks and quirks that should be hard to pull off: the passive-aggressive reminder that Rodrigo's ex needs therapy; the unabashed confession to crying on the bathroom floor; the venomous giggle in the second verse; the unexpected yet delightful use of the word "sociopath."
There's a reason this devilish, three-minute thrill ride is Rodrigo's most-streamed song to date. She makes throwing a tantrum sound stylish.
4. "Favorite Crime"
"Favorite Crime" became my sleeper favorite on "Sour." Although I gave it enthusiastic praise in our original review, I didn't realize just how many times I would return to Rodrigo's bloody hands and siren-induced hallucinations.
The pained ambivalence that Rodrigo displays on this track, which was inspired by a real-life diary entry, is exquisitely honest. Most people wouldn't have the courage to compare their ex to a murderer ("Doe-eyed as you buried me") and also admit she would happily repeat those mistakes ("I was going down but I was doing it with you") in the same breath.
Luckily, Rodrigo is not most people.
"Brutal" is Rodrigo's indelible thesis for "Sour." It's a succinct and unfettered catalog of woes, both personal and universal: "I hate the way I'm perceived," "I love people I don't like," "Who am I if not exploited?"
We can all relate to the ills of capitalism, but Rodrigo's question hits even harder when paired with its successive lyrics: "I'm so sick of 17 / Where's my fucking teenage dream?"
The crushing pressures and exploitation of young women in the music industry are well-documented, and Rodrigo neatly underlines the problem by invoking Katy Perry's most beloved hit.
Rodrigo may be Hollywood's shiny toy today, but "Brutal" proves that she's already wary of being disappointed and discarded. It's a gut-punch intro to her debut album that takes my breath away every time.
2. "Deja Vu"
As I wrote when I hailed "Deja Vu" as one of the best songs of 2021, following the success of "Drivers License" originally seemed like a thankless task.
And yet, the genius of "Deja Vu" was undeniable. It cemented Rodrigo as pop's songwriting heir and was even hailed as the superior single by several critics.
"Deja Vu" trades the broader strokes of "Drivers License" (crying in the car, driving past an ex's street) for hyper-specific details (sharing strawberry ice cream, watching reruns of "Glee," playing "Uptown Girl" on the piano).
Rodrigo's memories with her ex have big theater-kid energy and she wields that role ingeniously, smirking and snarling her way through the song ("Another actress / I hate to think that I was just your type").
But when the song reaches its emotional peak and you're compelled to scream along ("Don't act like we didn't do that shit too!"), it's clear that Rodrigo's principal export isn't melodrama. It's catharsis.
1. "Drivers License"
"Drivers License" took its rightful place at No. 2 on Insider's ranking of 2021's best songs (bested only by the 10-minute version of "All Too Well" by Taylor Swift, Rodrigo's own songwriting idol).
It's difficult to explain what makes this song so special. Of course, "Drivers License" is a technically impressive feat of lyricism, melody, and production — but its impact is more instinctive, drawing power from the heart and the gut, not the head.
According to my Spotify Wrapped, it was my top track of 2021 (by a long shot), and I still get full-body chills when I listen to it.
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