What happened between Olivia Rodrigo and Taylor Swift? Did anything happen? The world may never know — but following the release of Rodrigo’s new song “The Grudge,” it sure wants answers.
Rumors have been swirling for months that the two stars had a falling out over a copyright issue with Rodrigo’s hit single “Deja Vu,” which she once said was partly inspired by Swift’s “Cruel Summer” before quietly retroactively crediting Swift as a co-writer. (A similar scenario went down with Rodrigo’s “Good 4 U,” on which she retroactively credited and split royalties with Paramore’s Hayley Williams and Josh Farro after listeners pointed out similarities between the song and “Misery Business.”)
At the beginning of her music career, Rodrigo passionately identified as a super fan of the “Anti-Hero” singer and even interpolated Swift’s “New Years Day” on another Sour song, “1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back.” But since the “Deja Vu” situation, she’s gone radio silent about her Swiftiehood, and even seems to evade questions about Swift in interviews.
In a recent New York Times profile, for instance, Rodrigo said she’d been too busy to catch a show on Swift’s Eras Tour. She also chose not to confirm or deny whether or not her song “Vampire” was about her onetime idol, though she did confess to feeling “very surprised when people thought” the scathing track was about Swift.
Enter: “The Grudge,” which dropped Friday (Sept. 8) along with nine other new songs and two previously released singles, “Vampire” and “Bad Idea Right?” on Rodrigo’s sophomore album Guts. The piano ballad finds the 20-year-old pop star reflecting on a soured relationship with someone whom she once admired, admitting at the end that “even after all this, you’re still everything to me.”
“I have nightmares each week ’bout that Friday in May/ One phone call from you and my entire world was changed,” she sings. “Ooh, your flowers filled with vitriol/ You built me up to watch me fall/ You have everything and you still want more.”
The lyrics stood out to many listeners as being reminiscent of Rodrigo’s rumored feud with the elder star, who previously seemed fond of Rodrigo and championed her early success with “Drivers License” prior to the “Deja Vu” debacle. “Olivia Rodrigo’s new song ‘The Grudge’ is absolutely about Taylor Swift, right?” tweeted one fan, sharing screenshots of the song’s most pointed lines.
“The drama. The anger,” wrote another. “I wasn’t on board with vampire being about Taylor swift. But convinced by the lyrics of the grudge.”
Rodrigo isn’t new to having folks speculate over the subjects of her songs. As mentioned, many people were convinced that “Vampire” called out Swift upon its release in June, while others debated which of the former Disney star’s rumored ex-boyfriends (Zack Bia? Adam Faze) inspired the track. Even the very first song Rodrigo released, “Drivers License,” started a full-blown fan war online after listeners connected its story of betrayal to her alleged breakup from Joshua Bassett.
The “Good 4 U” singer will be the first to remind you that this kind of speculation can lead to a dead-end, though. “Songs are just songs at the end of the day,” she said in a recent interview with Sirius XM Hits 1. “Lots of the time I write something that’s kind of like an amalgamation of lots of different people, or I write a lot of songs out of fantasy sometimes too.”
See fan theories about Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift and “The Grudge” below.
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