Stop your Spotify playlists: There's a new Olivia Rodrigo song.
It's not a B-side from her record-breaking debut album "Sour," but rather a "Beauty and the Beast"-inspired number written for her Disney+ series "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series." But fans of the burgeoning 18-year-old pop star won't be disappointed with "The Rose Song," even if it's not about Rodrigo's life, but Nini's, her character in the series.
Rodrigo penned the sweet, uplifting song – featured in the final scene of the new season's sixth episode (now streaming), just as she wrote "All I Want" for Season 1. The new song's self-empowered lyrics suggest that there may be trouble ahead for Nini and her boyfriend Ricky (Joshua Bassett, the rumored subject of Rodrigo's No. 1 single "Drivers License"), as the couple had tense exchanges during the episode. Although Nini struggles onscreen to write the song, Rodrigo had no such writer's block.
"It sort of felt like a magical experience when I wrote ‘The Rose Song,’" Rodrigo says. "I wrote the first version chords in 20 minutes the morning after (“High School Musical” producer Tim Federle) called me and told me about the concept of the song. It felt like it was meant to be."
Rodrigo spoke to USA TODAY this week about "Rose Song," what to expect in the rest of "High School Musical" Season 2 and the many millennials obsessed with "Sour."
Question: It’s been a really big summer for you already with "High School Musical" Season 2 and your album coming out. How are you feeling?
Olivia Rodrigo: I’m feeling really great, actually. Things are starting to slow down a bit for me and I’m going to have a real break, which I’m really excited about. I’m really proud of the things that I’ve made and it’s really exciting to see it out in the world.
Q: In this episode, Nini is asked to write a song for her character in East High's performance of "Beauty and Beast" (she is playing the rose in the Beast's castle). She struggles to write a duet for the rose and the Beast. Eventually, Nini cracks it when she changes the song to be solely about the rose, and essentially about herself. Was that significant to you?
Rodrigo: Lots of times I have that experience with songwriting just like Nini, where you’re trying to make something, trying to write about something that you’re not actually feeling. The second that you’re like, "Oh, let me just write about my real life," it becomes so much easier. It becomes therapeutic and the song becomes more meaningful. I’ve had that experience in my life and in my songwriting so it was cool to portray that on TV.
Q: Is writing songs for the show different from working on songs for your music career?
Rodrigo: Oh my gosh, it’s so different but still fun. I think working within a prompt and having constraints to your creativity is so fun, and a great challenge for me as a songwriter. When I’m writing songs for myself the world is my oyster and I can write about whatever I want. (But) it’s really nice to (say) "OK, this is what I’m going to write about, I already have the topic chosen for me and I’m just going to do the best I can with this information."
Q: Can you reveal anything about the rest of Season 2 that you're really excited for fans to see?
Rodrigo: There are so many relationship ups and downs with all of the characters.I’m really excited for people to also see new relationships start up that haven’t been seen before in the previous episodes. Those are really fun for me; I love love.
Q: Ricky and Nini didn’t seem like they’re in a great place after Episode 6.
Rodrigo: I can’t disclose too much, but there is so much going on with that.
Q: I don’t know if you’ve seen the online discussion making fun of millennials and older people for loving your album so much. Were you surprised that it connected with people beyond your generation?
Rodrigo: I don’t know if surprised would be the word. I was just so pleased that it connected with people older than me. Even if you’re not going through a heartbreak it can take you back to a time when you were experiencing feelings like that. My favorite part about music is that it can transport you to different places. My songs can transport a 50-year-old man back to when he was 18 going through his first heartbreak. And not something I take for granted.
Q: Some people have drawn comparisons between you and previous Disney stars, and how your respective careers and images diverge. Is that something you think about yourself? Are you worried about that kind of image?
Rodrigo: I think about it sometimes. At the core of it I really just try to make music that resonates with me, and that’s all I can do. How people perceive me is really none of my business. I’ve really always thought of myself as a singer/songwriter who found acting rather than a child star who decided to give singing a shot. I’m just really living my life and trying to write songs that really resonate with me and other people, and that’s all I can do.
Q: Do you have any big dreams about what’s next in music or acting? Maybe a collaboration with another artist like Taylor Swift?
Rodrigo: (Laughs) I literally don’t know what I’m eating for breakfast tomorrow, my life is so up in the air. But I am really excited to go on tour and perform. I haven’t done many performances. The performances I’ve done have been the Brit Awards and "Saturday Night Live," which were huge and insane. But I’m really excited to meet people who are listening to my music and go travel and sing my songs. That’s the dream.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Olivia Rodrigo on 'High School Musical' song and her Disney image