Pop

If Olivia Rodrigo's 'Drivers License' Gets a Remix, Who Should Co-Star?

Miley Cyrus and Harry Styles
Kevin Mazur/Fox/WireImage

Miley Cyrus and Harry Styles of One Direction attend the 2013 Teen Choice Awards at Gibson Amphitheater on Aug. 11, 2013 in Universal City, Calif.

Have enough conversations about Olivia Rodrigo's "Drivers License" -- we've certainly all had plenty this week -- and outside of a couple predictable reference points, one song keeps coming up: Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road."

That's not because the songs sound anything alike, of course: One is a tearjerking, piano-led heartbreak ballad and the other a comedic, country-tinged trap banger. But there's just no other song from the past few years whose viral velocity "Drivers License" can be compared to, with Rodrigo's breakout hit already blanketing social media, breaking records on streaming services and inspiring memes... and covers... and a gazillion TikTok videos -- just as Lil Nas X did on his way up the charts and into Billboard Hot 100 history.

But of course, there was a crucial element that provided that extra bit of fuel in sending "Old Town Road" straight to the moon: a remix. Well, several remixes actually, but only one that permanently changed the song's trajectory -- a team-up with country icon Billy Ray Cyrus, which fleshed the song out structurally and paired Lil Nas X with the perfect co-star and foil. The song was already a runaway smash by the time of the remix, but no one would argue that the new version didn't take it to another level.

Could a remix like that be in store for "Drivers License"? It might not even need it -- after all, it's already making history on its own -- but if it does end up getting one, we have some thoughts about the guest artists who could put the song the furthest over the top with its 2.0 version.

The Logical Co-Stars

Halsey: No shortage to killer songs of romantic betrayal -- you can just hear the line "You didn't mean what you wrote in that song about me?" in her wail, can't you? -- or hits rumored to be about celebrity exes, Halsey could absolutely help "Drivers License" twist the knife just that much deeper.

Charlie Puth: We've seen this movie before, and pretty recently: Charlie Puth showed up on the remix to Gabby Barrett's similarly heartbroken "I Hope," helping to make it a fixture on pop radio and a top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. He'd better bring his own new verse to the table if he hopes to ride passenger on this one, though.

Lizzo: The second-most-viral star of 2019, equally adept at torch-song agony and putting the si-i-i-ing in single, could add any number of additional looks to the song -- and really, it's about time to get her back in our lives, isn't it?

The Superstar Predecessors

Lorde: The most-cited musical reference point in "Drivers License" discussion -- well, one of the two -- is the New Zealand alt-pop singer/songwriter, who Rodrigo is an avowed megafan of and whose "Royals" rose similarly out of nowhere to total cultural ubiquity in the mid-'10s. If ever there was a hit song for Lorde to bring the extra Melodrama to, it's this one.

Beyoncé: The Queen of World-Stopping Remixes, as she proved yet again in 2020 on Megan Thee Stallion's "Savage" redo. It hasn't necessarily been her mode lately, but from "Me, Myself and I" to "Resentment" to Lemonade, Bey's long proven that she does breakup anthems as well as any other great in pop history -- and she could help Rodrigo out with a word or two of wisdom here.

Adele: Piano. Heartbreak. Emotions on 11. You can find someone like Adele, or you can just get Adele.

Taylor Swift: The other most-cited musical reference point in "Drivers License" discussion is one who Rodrigo openly worships, and who's already blessed the song with her approval -- and, of course, is by far the most proficient writer of targeted breakup songs in 21st century pop music. You have to think she'd jump at the chance to stick up for her "baby," and we already know there's nothing that she does better than revenge.

The Next-Level Connections

Miley Cyrus: One Cyrus is as effective as another, right? When you need Nashville approval and bars about living like the Marlboro Man, you go to Billy Ray, when you're looking more for Disney and devastation, you go to Miley.

Harry Styles: Rodrigo could team up with her idol -- but wouldn't it be more interesting for her to get the guy who inspired some of her idol's most beloved and volatile relationship songs, at least one of which was already automotive-themed? Plus, Harry's been playing pop's nice guy the past couple years, it'd be a blast to see him as a heel again.

Zac Efron: The best revenge is living well -- or, at the very least, grabbing the starry predecessor of your rumored ex's most famous acting role as your new co-star. Bonus points if he finds a way to work in a "Breaking Free" reference.

The Godmothers

Alanis Morissette: There's no "Drivers License" without Taylor Swift, and there's no Taylor Swift without Alanis Morissette's breakthrough single "You Oughta Know," an ex excoriation that still feels rawer and bloodier than anything in the 25 years of breakup songs that came after it -- Lord help the bad boyfriends of North America if she got the chance to sink her teeth into this one. (And in particular, best of luck to Dave Coulier, who would probably have to stay off the Internet for the rest of the decade.)

Carly Simon: It's been a fact for nearly a half-century now: Anytime a singer-songwriter writes a pointed breakup song about an unspecified "You," they owe Carly Simon 15% -- figuratively, if not literally financially. It wouldn't be the first time Carly's graced the next generation of pop hitmakers with her musical and emotional support, and it's about time she came around again.

Stevie Nicks: Speaking of Miley Cyrus. And Harry Styles. And Taylor Swift. And probably just about everyone else in the history of pop/rock and breakup songs. Just pick up the phone and give your Auntie Stevie a call, Olivia!