Olivia Rodrigo, who rose to stardom after the success of her debut single “Drivers License” topped the charts in January, was honored with Variety’s Songwriter of the Year award at this year’s Hitmakers event on Saturday.
Avril Lavigne presented Rodrigo with the award, introducing the artist by saying, “This year we were introduced to a new artist whose debut album marked a major return for rock-and-roll on the charts.”
“From ‘Driver’s License’ to ‘Good 4 You’ to ‘Deja Vu,’ Olivia’s singles from her album ‘Sour’ are part of the collective psyche of 2021, and she wrote every single one of them,” Lavigne added.
In Variety’s August cover story on Rodrigo, Lavigne explained why she has so much admiration for the young star. “I think it’s important for people like Olivia to give an honest voice to so many young women who are still discovering themselves,” Lavigne said. “Her songs are her truth, and you can really feel that. You can tell it’s real by the way all of her fans grab onto every single word.”
“Her songs are personal, her songs are raw and her songs are relatable. Please welcome to the stage, Variety’s songwriter of the year, Olivia Rodrigo.”
Rodrigo started off her speech by thanking Lavigne and citing the “Girlfriend” singer as an influence: “I am such a massive fan of you, I look up to you so much, so this is so surreal for me. Thank you for the love and support.”
“I’ve been writing songs since I was like 5-years-old and my favorite part about all of this is that feeling of writing a song that perfectly captures how I feel better than any conversation could have. So to accept an award for songwriting is really meaningful to me,” she continued.
“Drivers License” smashed Spotify’s record upon release for most streams in a single week (on its way to a total of 1.1 billion as of mid-November).
“When I put out ‘Drivers License’ about this really hard time in my life, I watched it effect so many people regardless of sexual orientation, or gender or age — and to me, that’s the really beautiful thing about art and that was really special to me — to not only see how universal these feeling were but how music can bring us together and make us feel less alone,” Rodrigo said in her speech. “My heart and soul lies in songwriting and so for people to connect with my music like they have is beyond a dream come true.”
Lastly, Rodrigo thanked everyone for the Hitmaker award.
“Thank you so much Variety for this honor, and thank you for the opportunity to be in a room with all these people I just adore. Thank you to everyone on my team [and] to my manager at Interscope, I love you guys so much. And thank you especially to all of the amazing, supportive women in my life. I appreciate it, thanks again.”