Olivia Rodrigo is having one hell of a week. After releasing her song "Drivers License" on Jan. 8, the song took off at lightening speed, going viral on TikTok, becoming the talk of Twitter, and hitting No. 1 on Spotify’s U.S. chart. The singer even saw her song skyrocket to the near top of the U.S. iTunes chart, sitting just below Taylor Swift. For Rodrigo, this was the ultimate honor, and she even received praise from Swift herself. Rodrigo’s story is basically a dream come true, and as the world collectively falls in love with her music, she’s paving the way for more talented songwriters to shine. These songs like Olivia Rodrigo’s "Drivers License" are worth a listen.
Given Rodrigo’s involvement in Disney’s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, one might have assumed Rodrigo’s music would be candy-coated bubblegum pop. It’s anything but. She plays multiple instruments, writes her own lyrics, and, like "Drivers License," all of her songs feature a surprising amount of depth. Fan interest in Rodrigo’s song only grew when a rumor claiming it was written about her Disney co-star Joshua Bassett began circulating Twitter. Rodrigo never confirmed or denied this, but her lyrics are definitely about a painful breakup, whoever it may have been with. If the singer’s emotive track captured your heart, here’s a few singer-songwriters who are likely to do the same.
1. Jessie Reyez – "Figures"
It was her heartbreak anthem, "Figures," that put Reyez on the map in 2016. The song wound up being a hit, and the Toronto native was invited to perform it at the Juno Awards in March 2018.
2. Maggie Rogers – "Light On"
Maggie Rogers caught her big break when she moved Pharrell Williams to near-tears while playing him her debut single "Alaska," she she’s been dropping tear-jerkers ever since.
3. Phoebe Bridgers – "Motion Sickness"
Few musicians churn out sad bops the way Phoebe Bridgers does. The singer-songwriter has made her mark on indie rock in a big way since releasing her debut album Stranger In The Alps.
4. Julien Baker – "Appointments"
Baker puts her soul on the table with each song she writes, and 2017’s "Appointments" was one of her most vulnerable (and heartbreaking) to date.
5. Lorde – "Liability"
Lorde teeters somewhere between being a pop star and a singer-songwriter, but her lyrical prowess on songs like "Liability" make her more of the latter.
6. H.E.R. – "I’m Not OK"
H.E.R. refused to reveal her identity when first starting out, but where she lacked transparency with fans she made up for in soul-baring songs like this one.
7. Lennon Stella – "Kissing Other People"
On "Kissing Other People," Stella swapped her usual upbeat melodies for a more subdued song about the process of moving on from a broken relationship.
8. Conan Gray – "Heather"
Kid Krow marked the debut studio album from Gray, and it was chock-full of hits. In addition to his angsty song "Maniac," his somber ballad "Heather" became a fan-favorite.
9. Ingrid Michaelson – "Hate You"
Michaelson has slowly but surely been creeping her way towards mainstream recognition. "Hate You," a haunting tale about an agonizing breakup is more than worthy of a spot on this list.
10. Lana Del Rey – "Summertime Sadness"
"Summertime Sadness" is the quintessential sad bop (if you couldn’t already tell from the title) and Del Rey’s 2012 ballad has become a summer anthem for her fans ever since its initial release.
11. St. Vincent – "New York"
St. Vincent, aka Annie Clark, perfectly captures how lonely a big city can feel after a breakup with this track.
12. Holly Humberstone – "Drop Dead"
Some relationships end amicably, but judging from the lyrics in Humberstone’s August 2020 song "Drop Dead," hers did just the opposite.
13. Hayley Kiyoko – "Let It Be"
Kiyoko has a magical way of making sad songs seem not so sad. But despite its upbeat melody, "Let It Be" is still a sad bop through and through.
14. Olivia O’Brien – "Better Than Feeling Lonely"
Released just about a week before "Drivers License," O’Brien’s song "Better Than Feeling Lonely" shares some pretty similar vibes.
15. Sigrid – "Dynamite"
Norwegian singer Sigrid has perfected the art of penning breakup tracks, and "Dynamite" is one of her most harrowing songs yet.
16. Tate McRae – "r u ok"
When she was 13 years old, McRae gained prominence as a finalist on So You Think You Can Dance, but, these days, making music is her priority.
17. Bon Iver – "For Emma"
If there was a face of Indie rock, Bon Iver would be it. His pension for making each song he writes reek of raw emotion is unparalleled, and "For Emma" was written in complete solitude.
18. Julia Michaels Ft. Niall Horan – "What A Time"
Julia Michaels was a professional songwriter before she ever started dropping her own music, so it makes sense she knows how to spin a story. "What A Time" is a heartfelt reflection of a happy relationship gone haywire.
19. Frank Ocean – "Solo"
Ocean’s career-defining album Blonde struck a chord with fans due to its intense lyrical sincerity, and "Solo" became an instant standout.
20. Fletcher – "All Love"
Fletcher’s EP You Ruined New York City For Me was comprised entirely of breakup songs, with "All Love" arguably being the saddest.
21. Sasha Sloan – "Lie"
Don’t be fooled by the the somewhat upbeat tempo on Sloan’s "Lie." With one listen to the lyrics, you’ll realize the song is about clinging to the broken parts of a relationship.
22. Tessa Violet – "Words Ain’t Enough"
Violet’s "Words Ain’t Enough" is the stuff every breakup song should be made of: honest, alluring, and instantly relatable.
23. Savannah Re – "Opia"
On "Opia," Re sings about her fear of love, making her song sort of the opposite of a breakup song (but not any less heartbreaking).
24. Alessia Cara – "Out of Love"
On "Out of Love" Cara sings about the heartbreaking realization that her signifcant other has fallen out of love with her and it just might make you ugly cry.
25. Taylor Swift – "All Too Well"
As one of the biggest pop stars in the world, Swift is far from being an indie artist. But few can capture heartbreak better than Swift, and "All Too Well" has become a bit of a cult classic with Swifties.
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