The Drama Behind “Drivers License” and “Skin”

Gianna Pacilio ('22)


Sabrina Carpenter, Olivia Rodrigo, and Joshua Bassett
People pictured from left to right: Sabrina Carpenter, Olivia Rodrigo, and Joshua Bassett. Courtesy of People Magazine

On January 8, Olivia Rodrigo released her new hit single “Drivers License”, taking the world by storm. It features a seatbelt noise from Rodrigo’s mom’s car in the very beginning, and strong piano chords throughout the song, as listeners are taken on an emotional journey with Rodrigo’s powerful voice.


“Drivers License” has broken so many records so far. It was number one on Apple Music’s charts for almost three weeks, number one on both Billboard’s Hot 100 and Global 200, holds the record for the most streams for a song in a week on Spotify, holds the record for the most requested song in one day globally on Amazon Alexa, and had the biggest first week streaming debut on Amazon Music.


Rodrigo and her ex-boyfriend Joshua Bassett began dating during the Disney+ show, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, where they portray characters named Nini and Ricky. According to the Los Angeles Times, during season one there is a scene where Ricky professes his love for Nini, which Bassett admitted was improvised.


Rodrigo has repeatedly referred to Bassett as her best friend, “I love him so much. He’s my best friend, so that really made the acting authentic and really truthful. It was like I wasn’t acting,” she told the LA Times.


Despite their seemingly happy friendship, her song suggests otherwise.


Rodrigo says “You’re probably with that blonde girl”, referring to Sabrina Carpenter.


The two had been spotted together during the summer, and Carpenter has been seen numerous times with Bassett on TikTok. Yet, some fans assumed they were just friends. “Drivers License” says otherwise, as fans are now aware that Bassett and Carpenter are... more than friends. Many videos went viral concerning Bassett and Carpenter’s relationship.


As a complete surprise, Carpenter released a song called “Skin”.


To Rodrigo, she sings, “Maybe we could have been friends, if I met you in another life. Maybe then we could pretend there’s no gravity to the words we write. Maybe you didn’t mean it, maybe blonde was the only rhyme”, painfully referring to Rodrigo’s song lyrics.


Carpenter cleverly adds at the end of the song, “Don’t drive yourself insane, it won’t always be this way”.


Carpenter sounds hopeful to resolve this conflict with Rodrigo, but time will tell.


While “Skin” is a good song, it is not receiving as much attention as “Drivers License”. Fans are not really looking for a catchy song, but rather a response. It has somewhat of a positive message, as its chorus motivates people not to let people under your skin. Other parts, however, are oddly specific and directed at Rodrigo.


Junior Halyn Principe said, “I found it easier to sympathize with Olivia. I don’t think Sabrina Carpenter’s song is considered a diss track because the song isn’t explicitly calling out Olivia. Instead, I think it’s about her personal experiences throughout the year.”


Carpenter denied accusations of “Skin” being a diss track in an Instagram post.


Carpenter’s song is petty, while Rodrigo’s is heartbroken and emotional. Fans obviously found it easier to sympathize with someone who is heartbroken. Carpenter attempted but failed to apply that same element to her own song.


With the second season of HSMTMTS arriving on May 14 and Bassett’s album arriving on March 12, many fans are looking forward to seeing more of Bassett and Rodrigo’s drama play out.

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