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Forget Taylor Swift, allow a teenage girl to explain why Olivia Rodrigo matters

Once you move past the screaming, the yelling, the jumping and the stomping, there was some actual music played by Olivia Rodrigo on Friday night.

The Rodrigo who made her scheduled stop at the American Airlines Center on her “Guts” tour is a more evolved performer than the one who came to Irving in 2022 when she still looked and sounded like an ex-Disney kid.

Rather than play only one hour, as she did on that ‘22 tour, this version lasts closer to 1 hour and 45 minutes as it covers 22 songs. Whereas her first tour felt more like a warmup, “Guts” is a pop-rock concert.

This present version of Olivia Rodrigo, 21, sounds like a performer who has more of a command of herself, and her audience. “Guts” is a concert complete with back up singers, dancers and multiple band mates.

She sounds like a combination of Blondie with a little bit of the Go-Go’s, a dash of Taylor Swift, and a whole lotta Pink.

Rodrigo is not for adults; she’s for her generation. She does a wonderful job of identifying with them, and specifically their fears, frustration, and anger.

Don’t believe me? Fine.

The following is written by my soon-to-be 15-year-old daughter, Vivian Engel, who attended the show. Allow her to explain what an adult can’t, but every dad of a teenage girl should read:

“As a teen girl growing up in today’s society, Olivia’s songs have always spoken to me like no other artist. She radiates the energy of a 17-19 year old girl with her dramatic stage persona and energetic dances.

“Her way of expressing the complex, swaying emotions of a girl lets girls like her all over the world be seen. Her music shows that anyone can be insecure, and that it’s normal for life to suck. Her concert let’s every girl scream her lyrics and let out every emotion that we’ve felt we’ve needed to hold in.

“Teen girls are often told that they are needed to fit into this tiny square to be acceptable. Be pretty, be skinny, be funny, be smart, be likable, be popular, and at one point you look at yourself and watch as you try so hard to please others and just feel used.

“Our feelings can be discarded as dramatic, and that when we get older, we’ll understand. Teen girls are shoved into this scary world at the age of 12 with almost no preparation. Artists like Olivia Rodrigo validate girl’s feelings. No emotion or opinion is too much, and everyone has their own, special voice that deserves a place in this world. Olivia also had a way of connecting with her audience.

“Her interrupting her concert to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to a girl; walking through the crowds and giving everyone within reach hugs, and her little tidbits all made her fans feel more connected to her show. With her ability to express her anger through lyrics and songs, Olivia Rodrigo is the embodiment of female rage in Gen Z.”

So ... that’s fun.

After Rodrigo took to the stage at 8:30 p.m. she ripped off two rousing songs, “Bad Idea Right” followed by “Ballad of a home schooled girl.” Then she told the audience, “I want you to jump out of your seats and I want you to scream at the top of your lungs.”

Such instructions were not necessary. The approximately 16,500 at the sold out show were doing all of the above from the moment they walked through the doors.

There were multiple songs throughout the concert Rodrigo didn’t need to sing a note, particularly “Deja Vu.” Her fans, nearly all girls ages 12 to 20 (ish), do it for her. If you can get past that, this is a talented performer. Not in the same strata as her fellow Disney alum, Miley Cyrus, but eons ahead of Hilary Duff.

Not sure about Britney Spears yet. Rodrigo isn’t quite the performer as Spears, but she has chops, can play the piano and jam on the guitar. And, as evidenced on Friday night, she gave the audience her trademark facial expressions, including the dreaded “side eye.”

Her set list is pretty much her first two albums, so when she exited the stage there was no suspense about an encore. It was coming. She delivered with “Good 4 u,” and her current big hit, “Get him back.”

Everyone loved it, because she does such a good job of convincing all of them that she gets them, because they get her.

OLIVIA RODRIGO SET LIST FROM “GUTS” ON MARCH 1, 2024 AMERICAN AIRLINES CENTER

1. Bad idea right?

2. Ballad of a homeschooled girl

3. Vampire

4. Traitor

5. Driver’s license

6. Teenage dream

7. Pretty isn’t pretty

8. Love is embarrassing

9. Making the bed

10. Logical

11. Enough for you

12. Lacy

13. Jealousy, Jealousy

14. Happier

15. Favorite crime

16. Deja vu

17. The grudge

18. Brutal

19. Obsessed

20. All-American b****

21. Good 4 u

22. Get him back