From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Brutal"
Single by Olivia Rodrigo
from the album Sour
ReleasedSeptember 3, 2021 (2021-09-03)
Recorded2020
StudioAmusement (Los Angeles)
Genre
Length2:24
Label Geffen
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Dan Nigro
Olivia Rodrigo singles chronology
" Traitor"
(2021)
"Brutal"
(2021)
" Vampire"
(2023)
Music video
"Brutal" on YouTube

"Brutal" (stylized in all lowercase) is a song by American singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo. It was released to Italian radio on September 3, 2021, through Geffen Records, as a promotional single from Rodrigo's debut album, Sour (2021). "Brutal" was written by Rodrigo and Dan Nigro, and produced by the latter.

An alternative rock, grunge, and pop-punk tune, "Brutal" is driven by rock instrumentation consisting of brash electric guitars and drums. Its lyrics express Rodrigo's fear, worries and frustrations as a teenager entering adulthood.[ citation needed] An accompanying music video to the song was released on August 23, 2021. It incorporates heavy visual elements from the 1990s–2000s, especially the era's video games, while illustrating teenage angst. Commercially, the song reached the top 20 in various countries. In the United States, it landed at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, and topped the Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart.

Background and release

Following the minor success of " All I Want" (2019), American singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo signed with Geffen Records, a subsidiary of Interscope Records, intending to release her debut extended play in 2021. After the widespread success of Rodrigo's debut single " Drivers License", released on January 8, 2021, she decided she wanted to make a full-length studio album instead. [1] [2]

Alongside the release of her second single " Deja Vu" on April 1, 2021, Rodrigo announced that her debut studio album, under the placeholder title *O*R, would be released on May 21. [3] On April 13, Rodrigo announced the cover art and announced the title of her debut studio album Sour. Together with the announcement, the track listing was announced, and "Brutal" was revealed to appear as track one on Sour. [4] The song was released with a lyric video alongside the album on May 21, 2021. [5] It was also released to Italian contemporary hit radio formats through Universal Music Italy on September 3, 2021, as the fifth single from the album. [6]

Composition

"Brutal" is one of eleven songs from Olivia Rodrigo's debut album Sour. The song resents the idea that one's teenage years are the best years and shares a sentiment of teenage frustration. [7] It was written on a whim by Rodrigo and song's producer Dan Nigro. [8] It has been described as a pop-punk, [9] pop rock, [10] alt-rock, [11] and grunge [12] song with elements of indie rock and punk. [13] [14]

"Brutal" features a guitar riff similar to that of Elvis Costello's 1978 song " Pump It Up", leading to accusations of plagiarism. [15] [16] [17] Costello—who cited Bob Dylan's " Subterranean Homesick Blues" as inspiration for "Pump It Up"—replied to a tweet about the topic, "This is fine by me ... It's how rock and roll works. You take the broken pieces of another thrill and make a brand-new toy. That's what I did." [18]

Reception

"Brutal" received positive reviews from critics. Billboard's Larisha Paul described "Brutal"'s opening as "shimmering" and "brilliant", and the rest of the song as "grungy rock". [19] Jules Lefevre, writing for Junkee, described the song as "infinitely enjoyable", and described Rodrigo's vocals as "kiss-off". [9] Rolling Stone's Angie Martoccio likened Rodrigo in the song to "an excited teenager relaying gossip on a rotary phone". [20] Olivia Horn of Pitchfork speculated on whether "Brutal" is "[b]ucking expectations about the kind of sounds [Rodrigo] might gravitate toward" and describes that as just "part of the fun". [21] AllMusic reviewer Heather Phares called "Brutal" "a surprisingly punky blast of angst", likening the guitars to "the musical equivalent of an eyeroll." [22]

Entertainment Weekly called "Brutal" the best song of 2021, describing it as "like stepping through a Lollapalooza looking glass, the alt-nation swagger and blown-out guitar fuzz of the Breeders and Elastica reborn in one dimpled Gen-Z teen." [23] Following the release of Sour, "Brutal" debuted at number 12 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and atop the Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart. [24]

Music video

A music video for "Brutal" was released on August 23, 2021, directed by Canadian director Petra Collins. [25] The video features cameo appearances from actors Lukas Gage and Nico Hiraga, as well as model Salem Mitchell. [26] Rodrigo's hairstyles in the video were styled by Clayton Hawkins. [27] The video depicts Rodrigo's "teenage angst", [28] using various visual elements of 1990s-2000s pop culture. [26] As of October 2023, the music video has amassed more than 52 million views on YouTube. [29] Vogue described the video as a "visual treat" and a compendium of "Y2K beauty", incorporating various looks that marked the 1990s-2000s era, alongside "playfully brash rebellion". [27] Vulture and Insider noted similarities to Rina Sawayama's music video for " XS" (2020). [30] [31]

Olivia Rodrigo is different costumes and wigs
A still from "Brutal" music video, showing a video game interface consisting of various avatars of Rodrigo.

It opens in a "glitchy, throwback dimension", where an array of Rodrigo avatars appear, each adorning a stylized wig and exaggerated personality; an 8-bit version of "Brutal" plays in the background. One of the costumes is a reference to Leeloo from the 1997 movie and 1998 video game The Fifth Element. [27] It is a "choose-your-player" selection, channeling Adobe Flash web games of the early 2000s. [32] The various attires Rodrigo adopts in the video include a slicked ballet bun, plaited pigtails with a newsboy cap, low-slung space twists reminiscent of Mandy Moore's " Candy" music video, and two partial pigtails with wavy brunette and burgundy hair. [27] A cursor clicks on Rodrigo dressed in a pastel blue ballet outfit and a matching wig, before changing to a scene where she squirms on a ballet studio floor after breaking her ankle while trying to perform en pointe. It is followed by scenes such as anchoring an oddly vivacious morning news program with gossip (whose logo is the same as the 1990s logo for UK news program News at Ten), a dull high school classroom, crying on an Instagram Livestream, a stressed-out pop star shooting a commercial, and being physically dragged through an abandoned Westfield Santa Anita by "two real friends", among others. [33] [32] Right after the line "I can't even parallel park", the music stops briefly and Rodrigo is stuck in the crowded mall parking lot with cars beeping and she mouthes the words "What the fuck". Near the end of the video, Rodrigo climbs to the top of a Cadillac while the lyric "and God, I don't even know where to start" plays. The video concludes with her standing in the car, with a set of ballet dancers performing en pointe, while surrounded by other cars loudly beeping. [32]

The music video received two nominations at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards for " Video of the Year" and " Best Editing".

Usage in media

"Brutal" appeared in the opening montage of Hockey Night in Canada's coverage of Game 2 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Finals between the Montreal Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning. [34] [35] The song also served as the soundtrack for the first trailer of Amazon Prime Video's I Know What You Did Last Summer [36] and in the opening scene of the season one finale of HBO Max's Gossip Girl. [37] "Brutal" was also heavily featured during episode 4 of HBO's Hard Knocks season which chronicled the training camp for the 2021 Dallas Cowboys season. [38] The song also appeared in Netflix's Do Revenge, The Imperfects and The School for Good and Evil. The song also appeared in PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie.

Credits and personnel

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Sour. [39]

Recording

  • Recorded at Amusement Studios (Los Angeles)
  • Mixed at SOTA Studios (Los Angeles)
  • Mastered at Sterling Sound (New York City)

Personnel

  • Olivia Rodrigo – vocals, backing vocals, songwriting
  • Dan Nigro – backing vocals, songwriting, production, recording, acoustic guitar, drum programming, electric guitar, synthesizer
  • Erick Serna – bass, electric guitar
  • Ryan Linvill – additional drum programming, Wurlitzer
  • Paul Cartwright – viola, violin
  • Randy Merrill – mastering
  • Mitch McCarthy – mixing

Charts

Certifications

Certifications for "Brutal"
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia ( ARIA) [58] 2× Platinum 140,000
Brazil ( Pro-Música Brasil) [59] 3× Platinum 120,000
Canada ( Music Canada) [60] 3× Platinum 240,000
Mexico ( AMPROFON) [61] Platinum+Gold 210,000
Poland ( ZPAV) [62] Gold 25,000
Portugal ( AFP) [63] Gold 5,000
Spain ( PROMUSICAE) [64] Gold 30,000
United Kingdom ( BPI) [65] Platinum 600,000
United States ( RIAA) [66] 2× Platinum 2,000,000

Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Release history

Release dates and formats for "Brutal"
Region Date Format Label(s) Ref.
Italy September 3, 2021 Radio airplay Universal [6]

References

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