As the first month of 2021 comes to a close, the year already has a genuine up-from-relatively-nowhere pop phenomenon: Olivia Rodrigo’s “Drivers License,” which has topped the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks and become one of the day-by-day most streamed songs of the last couple of years.
Rodrigo is a star of the Disney+ series “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” and “Drivers License” is her debut single released on her own, outside of the context of the show. It’s a canny inheritor of Taylor Swift, Lorde and Alessia Cara, among others. The song also has become a vector for young-celeb gossip — it was followed by new songs by Rodrigo’s co-star and rumored ex, Joshua Bassett, and an older Disney star he’s been linked to, Sabrina Carpenter.
On this week’s Popcast, a conversation about the long arc of the Disney pop machine, how young women in pop are turning inward, and how long it really takes for someone to experience a sudden eruption of success.