The Meaning Behind “brutal” by Olivia Rodrigo

Olivia Rodrigo‘s latest album, GUTS, is chock-full of punky tirades. That new sonic direction is a continuation from the opener to Rodrigo’s debut record, “brutal.” If you were a teen when this one came out, odds are Rodrigo tapped a direct line to your soul with “brutal.” If not, odds are you were immediately called back to those angsty years.

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Rodrigo lets her insecurities, complaints about the world, and anger fly freely on this up-tempo track. It’s the breakdown we all need from time to time.

Uncover why Rodrigo thinks the world is so brutal, below.

[RELATED: The Meaning Behind Olivia Rodrigo’s Disorienting “Deja Vu”]

Behind the Meaning

The lyrics to “brutal” read like a stream of consciousness. Rodrigo aires out all of her grievances, one after the other. The opening verse is an onslaught of corruptible thoughts from Rodrigo. She references her insecurity, the public love triangle she was thrust into, and struggles with her ever-growing spotlight.

I’m so insecure, I think
That I’ll die before I drink
And I’m so caught up in the news
Of who likes me, and who hates you
And I’m so tired that I might
Quit my job, start a new life
And they’d all be so disappointed
‘Cause who am I, if not exploited?

Next, she gets into the dichotomy between her experience with being a teenager (which is decidedly not all sunshine and rainbows) and the idealized version of youth. And I’m so sick of 17 / Where’s my fucking teenage dream, she spits out.

The chorus is similarly impassioned. The refrain tackles generalized anxiety, downward mood swings, and the crushing of egos–all things Rodrigo disdains about the “golden” teenage years.

All I did was try my best
This the kind of thanks I get?
Unrelentlessly upset (ah, ah, ah)
They say these are the golden years
But I wish I could disappear
Ego crush is so severe
God, it’s brutal out here

The rest of the song continues in the same vein. Other topics include fake friends, hating her own songwriting material, and even parallel parking. Nothing is particularly dire, but that’s the pressure of coming of age: even the most minute issue feels world-ending.

Music Video

The accompanying music video for “brutal” is one of Rodrigo’s, and frequent collaborator Petra Collins’, best works.

The visual is as in-your-face as the song itself. Collins helps to drive home the angsty message within the song via the help of black fishnets, combat boots, and augmented reality emotions.

From ballerinas to celebrity cameos, everything about the music video screams Rodrigo. Revisit the robust video, below.

(Photo by Rachel Luna/FilmMagic)

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