In late 2018, when “Old Town Road” was first gaining steam on TikTok and other online platforms, conversations arose around the nature its rise. Was it a meme with a BPM? A savvy bit of web culture come alive with a Nine Inch Nails sample? The apotheosis of the yeehaw agenda?
The answer was likely yes to all, and the result became legendary: After Billy Ray Cyrus hopped on the remix, Lil Nas X’s country-trap hit reached No. 1 and eventually became the longest-running song at the top spot of the chart in its history. Why bring this all up now? Well, there’s a new No. 1 in town, and its extremely accelerated and much-celebrated success recalls a bit of the rise of “Old Town Road,” though the two songs couldn’t sound more different.
Today (January 19), Olivia Rodrigo’s “Drivers License” — a heart-racing tale of heartbreak and suburban loneliness — debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s also become one of the most-streamed new songs in history, racking up 76.1 million plays in the United States in a week and marking a new weekly best. Additionally, “Drivers License” is the most-streamed song since Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP” in August.
Fans of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series already know Rodrigo and her talents, and her song “All I Want” from the show was Rodrigo’s first Hot 100 hit back in January 2020. Her starring role likely helped propel “Drivers License” right out of the gate, along with the song’s much-discussed backstory involving her rumored relationship with co-star Joshua Bassett and the seeming references hinted at in the lyrics.
There’s also the matter of the song’s explosion in popularity on TikTok (hence the “Old Town Road” echoes) as well as its co-sign from none other than Taylor Swift, who said she was “really proud” of the song’s performance.
“Drivers License,” too, absolutely slaps. There are certainly echoes of both Swift and Lorde in its poetic realism and encapsulation of teenage feelings from the 17-year-old Rodrigo (and her co-writer, As Tall As Lions’s Dan Nigro). But it all feels very much her own, and true to the kind of emotional rite of passage captured in its lyrics.
Combined, all this buzz and connection leads to “Drivers License”‘s accolades: replacing 24kGoldn and Iann Dior’s “Mood” at No. 1, becoming the top-selling and most-streamed song of the week, and, according to the ChartData Twitter tracker, the fastest song to reach 100 million streams (in roughly eight days).