Summer Hits: Olivia Rodrigo - good 4 u (with Jessica Hopper)


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Olivia Rodrigo’s summer breakup anthem “good 4 u” is filled with the kind of ebullient angst that makes us want to spontaneously dance around our house and belt the lyrics out with abandon. Whether it’s the creeping baseline that pulls us in, or the cathartic release of the chorus, we can’t get enough of this track. And we’re not alone, it seems. The song debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and like its predecessor “Driver’s License,” has fueled and been fueled by viral TikTok memes that helped solidify the song’s position among 2021’s summer jams.

Those TikTok memes range in format, but tend to play off of one unavoidable observable of Rodrigo’s “good 4 u” - just how beautifully it syncs up with Paramore’s 2007 pop-punk “Misery Business.” The two songs share some of the most common building blocks in pop music, from their 4, 1, 5, 6, chord progression to the opening note of their choruses. Those links have led critics and fans alike to wonder aloud if “good 4 u” indicates the emo-slash-pop punk revival we discussed back in May is here to stay.

In the second installment of our Summer Hits series, producer Megan Lubin goes searching for the musical roots of Rodrigo’s ebullient angst, and uncovers two histories - the first is the sound of emo as it branched off of punk music in the 1980s, and the second is of women raging on the microphone through time, from the blues to country, to Olivia’s chart-topping confessional.

Lubin gets help from the rock critic Jessica Hopper, who reminds us of emo’s gendered origins: “It became prescriptive. The narrative was always girls were bad and they never had names” and takes us on a journey through Rodrigo’s rage-full forebears. We’re still thinking about her lines about women in pop and the boxes we try to put them in. “People just need to stop trying to draw it back to something that a man did before, and realize that teenage women have completely remade the landscape of top 40 pop in the last 15 years.”


Jessica Hopper’s The First Collection Of Criticism By A Living Female Rock Critic

Helen Reddington “The Forgotten Revolution of Female Punk Musicians in the 1970s”

nikjaay’s “misery 4 u” mashup


  • Olivia Rodrigo - good 4 u
  • Paramore - Misery Business
  • Sex Pistols - Anarchy in the U.K.
  • The Clash - London Calling
  • Minor Threat - Straight Edge
  • Rites of Spring - Drink Deep
  • Dashboard Confessional - Screaming Infidelities
  • Bessie Smith - Devil’s Gonna Git You
  • Nina Simone - Break Down and Let it All Out
  • Alanis Morissette - You Oughta Know
  • Miranda Lambert - Mama’s Broken Heart
  • Carrie Underwood - Before He Cheats
  • Taylor Swift - We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together

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257 episodes