Olivia Rodrigo

Warm days are here to stay in State College, and the fresh air means a freshening up of playlists for Penn State students.

Whether drawn into songs based on appreciation for instrumentals, feelings of nostalgia or interest in the TikTok music sphere, Penn State students shared their current on-repeat favorites of the spring season.

A recurring favorite is Olivia Rodrigo’s latest single “deja vu,” a song Maysen Paul said is “going off of her last song,” referencing the way the lyrics serve as a chronological successor to Rodrigo’s mega-hit “drivers license.”

“The lyrics [of ‘deja vu’] are so good,” Paul (freshman-education) said.

Sara Bobulinski expressed appreciation for the style of the “deja vu” music video, which was heavily inspired by old Hollywood aesthetics.

“The nostalgia of the music video really helps when you listen to the song,” Bobulinski (freshman-photography) said. “It feels like driving in the car. She’s talented.”

Rodrigo broke several Spotify records and sent the Internet into a frenzy in January with the release of “drivers license,” a ballad lamenting a past relationship.

The song sparked rumors that Rodrigo was singing about her fellow “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” actor and ex-boyfriend Joshua Bassett. Bassett is now reportedly dating former Disney Channel actress and singer Sabrina Carpenter, according to MSN.

The rumors ignited into flames when Carpenter released a track seemingly in response to Rodrigo’s only a few weeks later, titled “Skin.”

Sami Reilly emphasized how fun it has been for her to link the lyrics of these songs to the rumors of the supposed love triangle.

“We were going through and connecting the lyrics together the other night,” Reilly (freshman-photography) said. “There’s a lot of drama.”


Although the popularity of “drivers license” was impacted by the drama surrounding it, there seems to be a new element vital in launching pop songs into stardom.

Jennifer Natale offered her thoughts on TikTok’s influence on music.

“[‘drivers license’] was really popular on TikTok, and TikTok has the ability to make songs explode, which is why she broke so many records on Spotify for it,” Natale (freshman-division of undergraduate studies) said.

Natale, who also cited “deja vu” as her current favorite song, said she believes Rodrigo’s new single is bound to become a “TikTok song” as well.

“Give it a week,” she said.

The music featured on TikTok is not just about the latest hits.

Mike Volpe said the app led him to find a new favorite album.

“I’ve been really getting into ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ by Kanye,” Volpe (freshman-statistics) said. “I saw a couple videos on TikTok and was like, ‘You know what, let’s listen to Kanye.’”

“My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” was released in 2010, and Volpe expressed regret at not diving into West’s discography earlier.

“I only got into Kanye after the new year, but [his music] hit me like a truck,” Volpe said. “I don’t know why I didn’t listen to him before — he’s been around for so many years.”

As Penn State students hang in the balance between warm spring weather and a looming finals week, some are seeking out songs that can elicit a bright mood.


Skylar Donchez cited her favorite track as “oops!” by 25-year-old rapper Yung Gravy.

“I just like [‘oops!’] because it’s really hype,” Donchez (senior-supply chain management) said, “and it puts me in a good mood.”

Like Donchez, Allison Lukac chose her favorite song — “Golden” by Harry Styles — based on the “good mood” it puts her in.

“[Styles] is my favorite,” Lukac (sophomore-education) said, “and ‘Golden’ is just a happy song.”

Other students like Drew Wetzel said they base their music tastes more on the specific instrumentals and style of songs.

Wetzel (sophomore-education) named “Alterlife” by Rina Sawayama, a Japanese-British artist, as his top song this spring.

“It has cool instruments in it,” Wetzel said, “and I think it’s really catchy.”

Long-time Justin Bieber fan Lisa Greeley said she appreciates the sound behind the Canadian pop star’s songs, especially his single “Anyone,” released on New Year’s Day this year.

“It has really great instrumentals,” Greeley (junior-education) said.

Bieber has also leaned into the musical side of TikTok. He released a second music video for his latest single, “Peaches,” comprising the sequel video entirely of dancing videos from TikTok.

The single caught the attention of Anna King, another long-time Bieber fan.

“It’s such a good vibes song,” King (senior-hospitality management) said.

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