Olivia Rodrigo’s album SOUR is nothing if not dramatic. Filled with hit songs like ‘driver’s license’, ‘good 4 u’ and ‘deja vu’, the album is an ode to pop-punk, heart break, and intense emotion. The album’s beautiful and intricate song writing make it not only incredibly fun, but terribly heartbreaking.
All these things can also be said about the Bard himself, walking the line between drama and comedy in his own way. In the spirit of drama, check out which Shakespeare play best matches each song from the album.
brutal – Taming of the Shrew
Aggressive, upbeat, and independent, this song is everything that Kate from The Taming of the Shrew embodies. In Shakespeare’s classic play, Kate, a fiercely independent young woman, is forced to get married. The worst part is that her younger sister can’t get married until she does. Kate’s father truly just wants Kate’s complicated, opinionated self off his plate.
“Brutal” has the rock ‘n’ roll edginess that is evident in Kate’s character. The personal and aggressive lyrics seem like something that Kate might write in her bedroom as she laments over having to talk to Petruchio. To top it off, the music is very reminiscent of the female rockers of the 1990s, the ones that you might hear Kat Stratford from 10 Things I Hate About You (which is based on this Shakespeare tale) blaring from her car.
good 4 u – Romeo and Juliet
The connections between Romeo and Juliet and this Rodrigo hit may not seem obvious at first. The song is all about Rodrigo sarcastically telling her ex that she’s happy for him as he moves onto a new relationship. Although this doesn’t evoke images of the famous death scene, there is another relationship that was almost meant to be.
At the beginning of the story, Romeo is not smitten with Juliet at all, but is in love with Rosaline. Despite Romeo’s best efforts, she doesn’t love him back. This song can be seen from Romeo’s perspective as he has to say “good 4 u” to Rosaline as she chooses remaining a virgin over loving Romeo.
It can also be taken from the audience’s perspective, as we watch this lovesick teenager move from being madly in love with one girl to killing himself over another in a matter of days. Rodrigo really hit the “moving on too quickly” trope right on the head with this one.
enough for you – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
A Midsummer Night’s Dream really has everything you could want in a play. Fairies, magic, unrequited love, a double wedding, and the funniest play within a play ever written.
At the beginning of the play, Hermia’s father declares that she has to marry Demetrius, though she wants to marry Lysander. Although both men are in love with Hermia, she is only in love with Lysander. Though Demetrius isn’t totally out of luck because another young girl, Helena, is madly in love with him. Unfortunately, Demetrius has no interest in Helena and continues to pursue Hermia.
Helena is jealous of how much both men love Hermia, and she wishes that she were enough for just one of them. She thinks she’s done everything right, but nothing she does is good enough for Demetrius. The insecurity of this song makes it sound like something Helena would listen to as she cries over Demetrius. But don’t fret, at the end of this Shakespeare play, she is more than enough for herself and her lover.
happier – The Winter’s Tale
Although this may seem like a song about wishing that your ex is happier with their new lover, it is anything but. She might wish them well, but Rodrigo doesn’t want the person to be happier than they were with her.
In The Winter’s Tale, the title seems happy and peppy, but the story is rather dark. King Leontes accuses his pregnant wife and King Polixenes of having an affair. Although this isn’t true, he throws his wife in prison and tries to kill the baby she is carrying. It may seem sweet on the inside, but it’s dark and sinister as you get reading.
1 step forward, 3 steps back – Othello
On this track, Rodrigo sings about a lover that always leaves her unclear about where she stands. Does he love her? Does he hate her? Are they getting married or breaking up?
In Othello, this is often how our titular character treats his love interest, Desdemona. At the beginning of the play, Othello risks his life and his job to marry Desdemona against her father’s wishes. But as the play goes on, he becomes enraged with Desdemona when he thinks she is having an affair. She has no idea why her loving husband has turned on her, it seems very out of the blue.
But Othello takes it a step further, attempting to murder his wife. She tries to plead that she is innocent, but in the end, Othello makes the decision for both of them.
deja vu – Cymbeline
When someone moves on quickly after a relationship, it’s hard to not to feel bitter about it. Especially when you see them doing the exact same things you guys used to do and pretending like it’s brand new. In Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, Imogen’s husband, Posthumus, is tricked into thinking that she has moved on after his exile.
Although at times Rodrigo has been branded as a crazy ex-girlfriend on this album, nothing beats Posthumus’ reaction to even just thinking he’s been betrayed. To punish Imogen, he doesn’t just write an album, but orders his servant to kill her for her infidelity.
Although the story has all the drama of a break up song, it is also incredibly funny. From cross-dressing confusion to some hilarious side characters, Cymbeline truly has it all.
driver’s license – Troilus and Cressida
Although not one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, Troilus and Cressida is a tragic love story for the ages. Set during the Trojan War, our two titular characters fall in love. Unfortunately, Troilus is a Trojan prince, while Cressida’s family has defected to the Greek side.
Although Troilus and Cressida promised to love each other forever, Cressida is forced to become Diomedes’ lover by her own father. Troilus, unable to forget Cressida, has followed her, but has to hear her agree to marry another man.
Rodrigo isn’t the only one wondering if it was all a lie; Troilus is unsure how any of the loving things Cressida said could be true. Although Troilus doesn’t cry driving down Cressida’s street after getting his license, he does fight the Greeks in battle (and it’s basically the same thing?).
traitor – Hamlet
“Traitor” centers around a relationship that has moved on too quickly, even if no one truly cheated. This is the set up for the plot of Hamlet, as Hamlet’s mother Gertrude moves on from his father’s death too fast (with his own brother to boot!).
Gertrude defends herself that she was never unfaithful, but it doesn’t matter to Hamlet as his anger and hurt about the new relationship fuel the remainder of the play. It doesn’t look like you’re going to be able to convince either of them that you’re not a traitor either!
favorite crime – Antony and Cleopatra
One of the most famous adulterous couples in all of history, Antony and Cleopatra are certainly not the most innocent couple. Antony betrays not only one woman, but two in his pursuit of Cleopatra. But loving each other is not nearly either of their worst crimes in the story.
Whether it is starting battles, betraying allies, or lying to get their way, Antony and Cleopatra are constantly committing new crimes. Despite all their poor decisions, hurting each other seems to be their favorite game.
jealousy, jealousy – Macbeth
The dark and haunting sound of this song perfectly hits the eerie and deadly themes of this play. As Rodrigo croons about her coveting the lives of others on social media, we get to see growing jealousy of what others have. Our titular character in Macbeth does just the same, except he’s not worried about social media, but rather who’s on the throne.
After three witches prophesize that Macbeth becomes King of Scotland, he becomes overcome with wanting to make this come true. With the help of his wife, he becomes incredibly jealous and power hungry. Although Rodrigo’s jealousy from social media doesn’t make her turn to murder, Macbeth doesn’t have that kind of will power.
hope ur ok – King Lear
“Hope ur ok” is one of the few songs on SOUR not about the betrayal of a lover. Instead, this slow ballad looks back at the people in Rodrigo’s life that she hopes are doing okay. We get the story of abusive and neglectful parents, and the brilliant kids that rose above them.
King Lear is famously one of the worst parents in literature, forcing his daughters to describe how much they love him. When his daughter Cordelia says she doesn’t have the words to express how much she loves him, she is disowned. As it turns out, Lear’s other two daughters were only flattering him so they could take control of his kingdom.
For most of the play, as the two other sisters wreak havoc on the kingdom and their family, the audience is hoping that Cordelia makes it out of the play in one piece.
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