What Makes Olivia Rodrigo’s “bad idea right?” Such Girlish Fun (Feat. Don’t Text Your Ex)
This article was written by The Zillennial Zine’s fall editorial intern Celeste MacMurray. Find her on Instagram at @clsmsanchezx. If you would like to share an article with The Zillennial, send us an email at email@example.com.
In preparation for the release of her sophomore album titled GUTS, Olivia Rodrigo has begun the single rollout in anticipation for its upcoming release. GUTS is set to release on September 8th, 2023, and so far two singles have been released. “vampire” was the first to be released on June 29th, 2023, and stirred a great uproar on social media as it made many grow excited for Rodrigo’s new album. Most recently, the release of her single “bad idea right?” has been growing in popularity since its release on August 10th.
What people seem to love the most about Rodrigo’s “bad idea right?” is just how fun and energetic the song is. The pop-punk track is attention-grabbing at every second with its unique and creative use of percussion and rhythm. The song features an interpolation of the bassline from Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman,” which is what gives the rhythm its signature, staggering feeling. The cadence of Rodrigo’s spoken lyrics give them a conversational tone that seems to mimic someone’s inner dialogue. The sudden pauses in between words like in the second verse after the word “stop” gives the song character, while in other places like in the transition from the pre-chorus to chorus, gives the lyrics the opportunity to take center stage.
The song introduces itself in an animated manner with the sound of a creaking door then the whisper of a small, “Hey!” As listeners we are quickly ushered into the first verse, almost as if we’re being pulled inside a house by a group of friends as the intro alludes. Right off the bat, Rodrigo’s lyrics jump right into the debrief of a lifetime to explain to us exactly what’s going on.
The first refrain is light and airy, aiding us in taking on the confused and blurry headspace that makes us unable to make good decisions. We know what the right course of action may be, but when everything feels so dizzying (in the best and worst way possible), how could we say no?
While the first refrain features a cohesive ensemble of layered vocals, it’s in the refrain’s second appearance that we can hear a glitch-like distortion breaking up the words in the background. These little details demonstrate the progression of anxiety and confusion in regards to one’s actions while becoming more and more disillusioned. In the background of the second refrain and the subsequent pre-chorus, Rodrigo’s screaming vocals build up and grow in volume as the story progresses.
Each pre-chorus feels like a build up of anxiety and uncertainty with every single mutter of “It’s a bad idea, right?” as we can feel the stakes raising. The chorus that follows almost immediately feels like a culmination of all these feelings—fear, shame, anxiety—as attempts to justify one’s actions are being made.
The playful attitude of the second verse is exactly what helps to provide the song its best lyrical deliveries by far. The tone is fun, flirty and bound to leave a lasting impression. I haven’t been able to get the cheeky line, “Or in whose sheets!” out of my head since hearing it for the first time. It’s just pure fun with contagious energy no one’s immune from. The coy manner in which, “I’m sure I’ve seen much hotter men / But I really can’t remember when,” is said just really sells the faux nonchalant attitude used in an attempt to cope with making bad decisions.
The bridge of “bad idea right?” is absolutely electric and quite possibly the star of the song. The punctured delivery of the lyrics are highlighted with intense drum and guitar percussions behind each syllable followed by a moment of silence. That, of course, doesn’t last long until it’s interrupted by the eviscerating wails of an electric guitar. The bridge feels like the final crossover into complete delusion as a choice is finally made to embrace bad decisions regardless of feelings or consequences. The outro of the song contains the same distorted stylized vocals found in earlier refrains, solidifying the loss of one’s right mind.
The lyrics are clever and provide great detail into Rodrigo’s journey as she sets out to see an ex of hers despite knowing that she probably shouldn’t. It’s even hinted in some of the lyrics that she’s lying to her friends about where she’s been, suggesting she doesn’t want them to know she’s seeing her ex again. The song does a great job at creating an internal tug-of-war in someone’s conscience as they go back and forth between right and wrong while trying to ignore what they know to be right in favor of the thrill of bad decisions. There is an amount of self-awareness within the song despite the lyrics detailing the continuation into a downward spiral.
Part of what people are enjoying the most about this song is that any person in their adulthood—and maybe even teenagehood—can listen and relate to it on some level. It creates a certain type of camaraderie among its listers who have either been in this position, or have watched their friends go through it themselves. The song itself sounds like a pop-punk hit from the 2000s’, or maybe even a track from the perfect Y2K movie soundtrack.
The visuals of the music video are just as fun and eye-catching as the song as it’s reminiscent of a ‘90s teen film. You have the typical party scene, the group of friends getting ready together and the hijinks that ensue on the young adult hero’s journey to their ex’s house. The video also creates a meta, visual twist as the ex in question is represented as a glowing body that shoots off fireworks and sparks in his room. (That metaphor is definitely up to your interpretation). One of the scenes even seems to draw a parallel to this iconic Euphoria scene.
The song may have you wondering, should I text my ex? Well, I have somewhat of a test that can help you decide.
Ask yourself, would I be embarrassed/ashamed/scared to tell my friends I’m talking to my ex again because of how our relationship ended in the past? If the answer is yes, then it’s a sign that maybe you shouldn’t.
If you need more convincing, like with astrology, for example, then I must mention we are currently in the midst of a Venus retrograde. In astrology, the planet Venus rules things such as love, beauty and art, and with a retrograde, these energies get a little muddled and complicated. That being said, this is definitely not the time for you to be getting back with your ex as there is a chance it won’t work out with the messy energy of this ongoing retrograde.
In addition to this, we are set to enter a Mercury retrograde on August 23rd, 2023, so that’s another thing to keep in mind. These retrogrades will be happening simultaneously, and these are the seasons notorious for the reappearance of exes—especially the ones you should not entertain.
Do you relate to Olivia Rodrio’s new single a little too hard? Tell us all about your Olivia Rodrigo bad idea right story and we can have a group gossip—and maybe even therapy—session.