Olivia Rodrigo got her “Drivers License,” but the event was hardly a celebration for the heartbroken singer, who unveiled her smash hit on Friday (Jan. 8).
The High School Musical: The Musical: The Series actress’ debut single grieves over an ex who has moved on, featuring the devastating lyrics, “And I just can’t imagine / How you could be so okay now that I’m gone / Guess you didn’t mean what you wrote in that song about me / ‘Cause you said forever, now I drive alone past your street.”
Theories of the song’s IRL story spread throughout social media, pointing to what may be Gen-Z’s version of the Nick Jonas/Miley Cyrus/Selena Gomez Disney Channel love triangle back in 2009.
It’s all a little confusing, and it’s all speculation, but Billboard is here to break down what fans are thinking “Drivers License” is about and why. Buckle up, and see below.
Who is involved?
Rodrigo, who is 17 years old, starred alongside 20-year-old Joshua Bassett on Disney+’s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, and the two were rumored to be dating in real life.
In August 2020 Bassett was seen having lunch with 21-year-old Sabrina Carpenter, a singer who rose to fame from her role as Maya on Disney Channel’s Girl Meets World. Sabrina’s sister, Sarah, was also in attendance.
— sup (@Brissia_Conrera) January 12, 2021
On Halloween 2020, Bassett and Carpenter dressed up as Shark Boy and Lava Girl and made a TikTok about it, which proved that they are at least friends and sparked couple rumors (though they never confirmed).
Lyrical references to the situation?
TikTok user Kaiya Olsen broke down the subtleties of “Drivers License” after its release, first referencing the lyrics, “And you’re probably with that blonde girl / Who always made me doubt / She’s so much older than me / She’s everything I’m insecure about.”
Sabrina is 21 (four years older than Rodrigo) and blonde.
In an earlier version of the song, which Rodrigo posted on Instagram in July 2020, the lyric references a “brunette” girl. Fans began speculating if the change had to do with Bassett spending time with Carpenter.
Olsen then moved on to the opening lyrics: “I got my driver’s license last week / Just like we always talked about.”
In a resurfaced social media video from LeBlanc Updates on YouTube, Rodrigo recalled practicing driving in Bassett’s car before she got her license and the moment after the duo found out the song they co-wrote, “Just for a Moment,” would be used in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. “We celebrated and we went to In-N-Out, and I couldn’t drive actually. I was 16, but I didn’t have my permit,” she said. “And so, he took me in his car, and we drove around the In-N-Out parking lot, and that was my first time driving.”
Finally, the chorus’ heartbreaking line, “Guess you didn’t mean what you wrote in that song about me,” had Internet sleuths looking for references to Rodrigo in Bassett’s previously released songs.
In July, Bassett released a sweet love song called “Anyone Else,” which features the lyrics, “How am I supposed to think about anything else? / How am I to go on keeping this to myself? / I am done pretending I want anyone else.” Fans immediately thought of Rodrigo.
Again, nothing is confirmed about 2021’s love triangle, so we’ll have to wait and see if Rodrigo, Bassett or Carpenter say anything about the speculation.
joshua bassett: i can’t settle for anyone else, anyone else
olivia rodrigo: pic.twitter.com/QVqZoxTXaj
— sj (taylor’s version) (@sjfolklore) January 8, 2021
thinking about how anyone else by joshua bassett is probably about olivia which is a love song and then drivers license is about joshua which is a heartbreak song 😀😀
— nessa²⁸ ミ☆ (@91WRLD) January 10, 2021