Olivia Rodrigo and Taylor Swift’s Alleged Feud, Explained in Excruciating Detail

Olivia Rodrigo and Taylor Swift’s Alleged Feud, Explained in Excruciating Detail

It’s hard to discuss Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo’s complicated history without feeling like we’re falling into boring, age-old traps designed to pit women against other women. However, it’s been equally difficult for fans of both artists to ignore the obvious shift in their faves’ relationship following the rampant success of Rodrigo’s debut album SOUR in 2021, which dropped when the former Disney star was just 18 years old. And now, with the release of Rodrigo’s sophomore album GUTS, listeners are more convinced than ever that something went down between the 33-year-old pop star and her self-proclaimed number-one fan.

In desperate need of context? Here’s a complete breakdown of the so-called “feud” between Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo, which may or may not rip your guts out…

Olivia Rodrigo has been a fan of Taylor Swift for years—and the feeling started out mutual.

April 22, 2020: Rodrigo performs a cover of “Cruel Summer,” which reaches Swift’s ears. “THE TALENT,” Swift writes on her Instagram Story at the time. “Love This!!! Thanks for this beautiful performance @olivia.rodrigo @mtv.”

In response, Rodrigo loses her mind in a since-deleted Instagram post. “TAYLOR SWIFT IS THE REASON I WRITE SONGS AND SHE POSTED ME ON HER STORY AND TOLD ME I WAS TALENTED???” she wrote, per Teen Vogue. “WHEN IS ASHTON KUTCHER GONNA JUMP OUT OF A BUSH WITH A CAMERA CREW!!!!???!??!”


January 8, 2021: The 17-year-old goes from star of Disney’s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series to certified pop icon overnight with the release of her record-breaking single “Driver’s License.” Not only was the song an absolute banger of a ballad, but it also unveiled a juicy love triangle between Rodrigo and her HSMTMTS co-star Joshua Bassett and fellow Disney star/singer Sabrina Carpenter. You can read about that here.

Joshua Bassett Olivia Rodrigo

That same day, Rodrigo celebrates placing near Taylor Swift on the US iTunes chart, with “Driver’s Licence” coming in just behind Swift’s Evermore bonus tracks “It’s Time to Go” and “Right Where You Left Me,” respectfully.

“Next to Taylor on the us i tunes chart I’m in a puddle of tears 😭😭😭😭,” Rodrigo captioned an Instagram post.

January 9, 2021: Driver’s License pulls ahead of “It’s Time to Go” and “Right Where You Left Me.”

January 10, 2021: Swift celebrates Rodrigo on Instagram, writing, “I say that’s my baby and I’m really proud. Olivia Rodrigo shares a screenshot, captioned, “What is breathing.”

Over on Twitter, she writes, “thinking about legally changing my name to ‘Taylor Swifts baby.’”

February 4, 2021: Rodrigo tells Nylon about belting out Swift’s “Picture to Burn” when she was four years old, calling herself “the world’s biggest Swiftie.”

March 1, 2021: Rodrigo receives a meaningful package from Swift. “She is absolutely the kindest individual in the whole world,” Rodrigo says in an interview with SiriusXM. “Actually, last night—like literally 12 hours ago—I got a package from her with this handwritten note. And she gave me this ring because she said she wore one just like it when she wrote ‘Red’ and she wanted me to have one like it…and like all of this amazing stuff, she’s like hand-wrapped these gifts. I truly don’t understand…where she finds the time, first of all. But also, I feel so lucky that I just was born at the right time to be able to look up to somebody like her. I think she’s incredible and all of her support and like, genuine compassion and excitement for me has just been so, so surreal.”

April 8, 2021: Olivia Rodrigo and Conan Gray promote the Fearless re-recording with social media posts about “White Horse (Taylor’s Version)” and “You Belong With Me (Taylor’s Version).” Per Teen Vogue, Swift shared their “YBWM” video, writing, “I sent my two kids Olivia and Conan my new version of ‘You Belong With Me’ and THEY ARE SO CUTE IT PHYSICALLY HURTS ME.”

May 11, 2021: Swift and Rodrigo finally meet at the BRIT Awards, where Rodrigo gave Swift a handwritten note, per CNN.

Things get complicated once SOUR is released…

May 21, 2021: Sour is released, with Swift and Jack Antonoff credited as songwriters on “1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back,” which Rodrigo explains on The Zach Sang Show. “We interpolated ‘New Year’s Day,’ which is Taylor’s song from Reputation. I came up with the ‘1 Step Forward’ concept and I sort of wrote a verse and a chorus,” Olivia says per Teen Vogue. “I was in the car on a road trip, and when I got home, I decided to sing it over the chords of ‘New Year’s Day.’ I think they’re really beautiful chords. I was lucky enough to get that approved, and it’s on the record now.”

April 7, 2021: During an episode of Rolling Stone’sThe Breakdown,” Rodrigo praises Swift again, saying she was inspired by “Cruel Summer” while writing the bridge of “Deja Vu.”

“We wanted to write a bridge…I wanted it to be really high-energy, cause the rest of the song is so serene and eerily calm,” Rodrigo says in the video. “But I wanted the last bridge to go crazy and I love ‘Cruel Summer,’ it’s one of my favorite songs ever.” She continued, “I love the yell-y vocals in it—like, the harmonized yells that she does. I feel like they’re super electric and moving and so I wanted to do something like that.”

July 2021: By July, Swift and Antonoff were given official co-writing credits on “Deja Vu” due to alleged similarities with “Cruel Summer,” which is ironic considering the “Deja Vu” lyric, “Everything is all reused.” It seems Rodrigo can’t escape plagiarism accusations and comparisons to other artists.

From there, it’s a bit of a snowball effect…

September 2021: After months of fans comparing “Good 4 U” and Paramore’s 2007 hit “Misery Business,” Rodrigo retroactively credits Swift’s close friend and Paramore frontwoman Hayley Williams on the track, along with William’s bandmate Josh Farro. According to Billboard, Rodrigo gives up 50% of the royalties on these songs to these additional writers, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars.

October 2021: Rodrigo opens up about the ongoing controversy…sort of. “I just feel like sometimes there’s so much noise and criticism and weird things going on in the world,” she tells Teen Vogue. “I hope people know that deep down, all that I do is write songs and talk about how I feel, and that’s the most important thing to me. Everything else, I think, is not so important.”

Then, she continues, “A hard thing for me to grapple with when this whole thing started happening is just, anyone can say anything. You just can’t control…” She trails off before adding, “That goes for anyone, like girls going to high school.”

November 12, 2021: Swift releases Red (Taylor’s Version), which includes the vault track “Nothing New,” which was first mentioned in Swift’s Lover journal entries.

Although the song was written back in 2012, fans can’t help but connect the song to Rodrigo, thanks to the lyrics, “I know someday I’m gonna meet her, it’s a fever dream/The kind of radiance you only have at seventeen/She’ll know the way and then she’ll say she got the map from me/I’ll say I’m happy for her, then I’ll cry myself to sleep.”

November—December 2021: The Recording Academy includes Taylor Swift and Jack Antonoff as nominees for album of the year for their work on SOUR, before removing them, citing a label error during the “submission process.”

April 3, 2022: Olivia wins three Grammys for best pop vocal album, best new artist, and best pop solo performance.

Everything pretty much dies down for a year.

June 2, 2023: Swift announces Sabrina Carpenter is joining The Eras Tour for multiple tour dates.

June 30, 2023: “Vampire” is released as a single ahead of her sophomore album GUTS, with Rodrigo telling fans that the writing process “helped me sort through lots of feelings of regret, anger, and heartache.” Though most fans initially believe the song is about Rodrigo’s ex, Adam Faze, sources blatantly denied the rumor to People.

Fans quickly began theorizing that the song was actually about the music industry and Swift was the main inspiration. You can read the lyrics here.

September 2, 2023: Rodrigo responds to the theory directly in an interview with The Guardian. “How do I answer this?” Rodrigo reportedly whispers when asked about it by Laura Snapes. She continues, “I mean, I never want to say who any of my songs are about. I’ve never done that before in my career and probably won’t. I think it’s better to not pigeonhole a song to being about this one thing.” She adds, “I was very surprised when people thought that.”

In the same interview, Rodrigo also vaguely addresses the drama surrounding the SOUR album. “I was so green as to how the music industry worked, the litigious side,” she says. “I feel like now I know so much more about the industry and I just feel…better equipped in that regard. It wasn’t something I thought about too much.”

Rodrigo also denies GUTS is a breakup album, saying, “It’s so much about growing up and finding your footing in the world.” She continues, “I was 19 and had all this zest for life but also was in this industry for the first time, and that can be kind of alluring: Ooh, there’s all these exciting people and exciting things, all these fancy, shiny new toys.”

September 5, 2023: Rodrigo seems to call The Eras Tour “the tour of all tours” in an Interview Magazine discussion with Phoebe Bridgers, who opened for Swift multiple times.

September 8, 2023: GUTS is released—and people immediately connect the song “The Grudge” to Taylor Swift. You can read the lyrics here.

Even some of the fans who didn’t buy the Vampire rumors are convinced. “Read all the lyrics to the new Olivia Rodrigo album,” one fan tweeted. “The drama. The anger. I wasn’t on board with ‘Vampire’ being about Taylor Swift. But convinced by the lyrics of ‘The Grudge.’ And now I think Taylor really started beef with a literal teenager. Will be on repeat.”

Some lyrics that caught fans’ attention are, “One phone call from you and my entire world was changed/Trust that you betrayed, confusion that still lingers/Took everything I loved and crushed it in between your fingers/And I doubt you ever think about the damage that you did.”

Then there are the lyrics, “You built me up to watch me fall/You have everything and you still want more,” and, “I try to be tough, I try to be mean/But even after all this, you’re still everything to me.”

It’s also possible that Rodrigo included a reference to Swift’s song “Mirrorball,” which includes the lyric, “I’ve never been a natural, all I do is try, try, try.”

In “The Grudge,” Rodrigo sings, “And I say I don’t care, I say that I’m fine/But you know I can’t let it go, I’ve tried, I’ve tried, I’ve tried for so long/It takes strength to forgive, but I don’t feel strong.”

The “try, try, try” motif also appears in the GUTS track “Lacy,” which some fans also believe is about Swift.

You can read the lyrics to “Lacy” here. The song ends with the outro, “Lacy, oh, Lacy, it’s like you’re out to get me/You poison every little thing that I do/Lacy, oh, Lacy, I just loathe you lately/And I despise my jealous eyes and how hard they fell for you/Yeah, I despise my rotten mind and how much it worships you.”

This article may be updated.

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