A year ago, the name Olivia Rodrigo barely registered in the music business. Back then, she was a teenage Disney actress who had moderate success contributing to the soundtrack of her show “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.”
What a difference a year makes — or even just five months, since her song “Drivers License” exploded in January.
Rodrigo, 18, is now a pop superstar with two No. 1 singles and a blockbuster No. 1 album — a social-media phenomenon following in the footsteps of her idol Taylor Swift, who performs at major awards shows and speaks confidently about her lineage as a songwriter. The Grammy buzz is brewing. (She’s already playing the celebrity-swag-box game.)
Rodrigo’s debut album, “Sour,” opens at the top of the latest Billboard chart with the equivalent of 295,000 sales in the United States, the biggest opening so far this year, according to MRC Data, Billboard’s tracking arm. That total includes 301 million streams, the second-best streaming number for any album this year, behind J. Cole’s “The Off-Season,” which topped last week’s chart. “Sour” is also No. 1 in Britain, Canada, Ireland, Australia and elsewhere around the world, according to Rodrigo’s label, Geffen.
In an era when new albums are typically stuffed with content to maximize their streaming yield, Rodrigo’s and Cole’s albums are unusual: “Sour” has just 11 tracks, and “The Off-Season” 12. By comparison, Morgan Wallen’s country blockbuster “Dangerous: The Double Album” has 30 songs in its standard edition, and it opened with 240 million clicks in January.
Among the other chart factoids for “Sour”: Rodrigo is only the second artist named Olivia to score a No. 1 album in the six-decade history of the Billboard 200, after two in the 1970s by Olivia Newton-John — “If You Love Me, Let Me Know” (1974) and “Have You Never Been Mellow” (1975).
Cole’s “The Off-Season” falls to No. 2 in its second week out, while “Scaled and Icy,” the new album by the alt-pop duo Twenty One Pilots, opens at No. 3 with the equivalent of 75,000 sales, including 33 million streams. Wallen’s “Dangerous,” still a steady hit after 20 weeks, holds at No. 4, and the Memphis rapper Moneybagg Yo is in fifth place with “A Gangsta’s Pain.”