Olivia Rodrigo, the GRAMMY-winning sensation known for her fiery and relatable lyrics, recently sat down with Rolling Stone to delve into her highly anticipated sophomore album, Guts, and address ongoing speculations about a feud with her musical inspiration, Taylor Swift. The conversation also revealed a surprising mentorship offer from pop icon Katy Perry.
In the interview, Rodrigo is asked about the ongoing speculation surrounding her relationship with Swift, who had been a significant influence on her musical journey.
“I don’t beef with anyone. I’m very chill. I keep to myself,” says Rodrigo, emphasizing that her social circle consists mainly of a close-knit group of friends and her mother. “There’s nothing to say. There are so many Twitter conspiracy theories. I only look at alien-conspiracy theories.”
When probed further about the co-writing credits on her debut album, Sour, which included Swift and producer Jack Antonoff, Rodrigo remained tight-lipped, explaining, “It’s not something that I was super involved with. It was more team-on-team. So, I wouldn’t be the best person to ask.”
As for whether Rodrigo might do the same to a young artist if they were clearly inspired by one of her songs, she says she doesn’t think she would. “But who’s to say where I’ll be in 20, 30 years,” she notes. “All that I can do is write my songs and focus on what I can control.”
Rodrigo’s song, “Vampire,” released in June, was the first glimpse into what fans could expect from Guts. Almost immediately, some listeners theorized that the track might be inspired by a rumored rift between Rodrigo and Swift, a relationship that had initially started with admiration and mutual support.
The roots of the speculation trace back to Rodrigo’s debut album, Sour, released in May 2021. Swift was credited on the album track “1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back” due to its interpolation of Swift’s 2017 song, “New Year’s Day.” While Rodrigo openly acknowledged the inspiration and expressed her gratitude for Swift’s approval, fans were puzzled when Swift was retroactively credited on another hit, “Deja Vu,” for its alleged interpolation of Swift’s “Cruel Summer.”
Things escalated in August when Hayley Williams and Josh Farro from Paramore were retroactively given songwriting credits on Rodrigo’s chart-topper, “Good 4 U,” claiming similarities to Paramore’s “Misery Business.” Rodrigo reportedly agreed to share 50 percent of the royalties for each of these songs with the respective artists.
Despite the quiet handling of these credit disputes, the once-budding public friendship between Rodrigo and Swift appeared to sour. Rodrigo hinted at her disillusionment with the music industry’s “mean girls” in a Rolling Stone interview with Alanis Morissette in October 2021.
Now, two years later, fans are convinced that Rodrigo’s song, “The Grudge,” from Guts reflects her feelings about being let down by someone she once idolized. In the track, Rodrigo alludes to betrayal, confusion, and feeling “not enough” due to someone’s actions, potentially tied to the credit disputes.
Interestingly, Perry, who knows the pressures of following up on a debut album, shares her empathy for Rodrigo’s situation, revealing that she had offered to be a mentor and a sounding board for the 20-year-old.
“The first time I met her, I put my hands on her shoulders and was like, ‘Listen, I’m here. Whatever you need.’ Because I know exactly what these pop girlies are going through, and when I was growing up, no one really did that for me,” Perry tells Rolling Stone.
While her new album, Guts, features a song that shares the same name as Perry’s 2010 sophomore collection — Teenage Dream — Rodrigo assured that it was merely a coincidence.
“We thought about changing the name. If someone looks up ‘Teenage Dream’ on Spotify, there’s no way in heck that my song’s going to pull up first,” Rodrigo explains.
Rodrigo describes her second album, Guts, as a more “playful” record compared to her debut, Sour, which she refers to as a “breakup record.” However, she chose not to delve into speculation surrounding her breakthrough hit, “Drivers License,” and the alleged love triangle involving her, fellow High School Musical: The Musical: The Series co-star Joshua Bassett, and Disney actress-singer Sabrina Carpenter. Rodrigo maintained that such matters were handled privately and not meant for public discussion.
Although she’s young, Rodrigo also opens up about motherhood and her future wedding. Several psychics have told Rodrigo she’s going to have twins. “I’ve always been so obsessed with the idea of motherhood,” she says.
“I’m planning out my wedding with some guy I’m never marrying,” Rodrigo adds. “Since I was a kid, I’d pick out a baby name that would go good with their last name. That’s how psychotic I am.”
The singer admits she’s been pondering her wedding song for years. Her current options: Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” Modern English’s “I Melt With You,” and Bright Eyes’ “First Day of My Life.”
And while Rodrigo and Swift might not have a feud, they will go against one another at Tuesday’s 2023 MTV Video Music Awards.
Last month, MTV announced the nominees for the awards with Swift leading the pack with an impressive eight nominations in categories that include the major three — Video of the Year, Artist of the Year and Song of the Year. Most of the love coming her way is thanks to her music video for “Anti-Hero,” which has become a major favorite for fans.
Meanwhile, Rodrigo trails close behind with five nominations including two major categories — Video of the Year and Song of the Year.
The 2023 MTV Video Music Awards is airing live from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on MTV. Follow along at ETonline.com for full coverage from this year’s VMAs, including the complete list of the nominees and the night’s big winners.