Olivia Rodrigo is in the throes of a press tour, ahead of the release of her second album, Guts. It’s one of the most anticipated albums of the year, and for good reason: Sour was an excellent, award-winning debut; the two singles from Guts thus far have been fantastic; Rodrigo has readily proven herself a charming, funny, talented young musician.
But there’s one thing I cannot stop fixating on: Are Olivia Rodrigo and Taylor Swift fighting?
The New York Times published a profile of Rodrigo this week that only reinforced my need for this question to be answered. Let me quote this eyebrow-raising part of the piece in full:
Her openness about her influences is striking considering such frankness has already come with risks: Taylor Swift and Paramore may have been inspirations on Sour, but after the album’s runaway success, those inspirations suddenly gained writing credits on two songs. Asked if she had caught Swift’s Eras Tour, Rodrigo was brief: “I haven’t yet,” she said, quickly adding that she’d been busy. “I’m going to Europe this week.”
What does Rodrigo mean, she “hasn’t yet”?! There is not a celebrity in the world who hasn’t found time to swing by the Eras Tour, which is finally taking a pause after months of shows. Until reading this profile, I was fully convinced that I was the only person who wasn’t able to make it to any of the shows (because Ticketmaster hates me, and I hate it back). Turns out that one of the biggest pop stars in the world right now also failed to make it—but “she’d been busy” is one weird excuse, considering Swift and Rodrigo’s history.
Fans of both Swift and Rodrigo have speculated as to what the heck is going on between the two artists for years at this point. When Rodrigo was starting out, back in early 2021, she was a self-professed Swiftie. In January 2021, after her debut single “Drivers License” topped the Billboard chart, Rodrigo posted a tear-filled clip on Instagram highlighting a comment from Swift, in which Swift gushed about how “proud” she was of her “baby.” In subsequent interviews, Rodrigo referred to Swift as one of her idols and cited Red as one of her favorite albums of all time.
That influence was so clear that when Rodrigo released Sour in May 2021, she credited Swift and frequent collaborator Jack Antonoff on one of her own songs, “1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back;” Rodrigo and her co-writer Dan Nigro had interpolated part of the Swift track “New Year’s Day.” “I think they’re really beautiful chords,” Rodrigo said of borrowing from the Swift song in an interview upon Sour’s release. “I was lucky enough to get that approved, and it’s on the record now.”
While they had owned up to this ahead of release, things got dicey two months later. Swift and Antonoff ended up receiving co-songwriting credits on the song “Déjà Vu” three months after it blew up on the radio; listeners had noted how the song seemed to borrow from the bridge to “Cruel Summer,” and it seemed like Swift and Antonoff finally picked up on that too.
From there—as detailed in a lengthy Reddit thread I have bookmarked and refer to on a near-daily basis—Rodrigo and Swift’s mutual, public affection seemed to disintegrate. They stopped shouting out and promoting each other on social media. In a seeming act of loyalty, Rodrigo’s best friend Conan Gray, himself a rising artist, also stopped talking about Swift online as often as he once did. Most notably, Rodrigo defended her songwriting skills and expressed frustration about people using the songwriting credits drama to “discredit” her. (She also retroactively granted Paramore credit for “Good 4 U,” something that the band’s perfect-angel-queen lead singer Hayley Williams said was a decision made by Paramore’s management; there seem to be no hard feelings there.)
Swift hasn’t done a non-PR-protected interview in years, so no one has managed to ask her about her feelings on Rodrigo. But Rodrigo is dogged by comparisons and questions about her former idol repeatedly, with her answers remaining cordial if not totally vague. But to say she’s been too busy to swing by the Eras Tour feels different. It’s probably true, to some degree; Rodrigo’s been gearing up to put out a new album, which seems to be a higher priority than going to a concert.
Yet considering how many questions her fans have about the possible—ahem—bad blood between her and Swift, Rodrigo’s continued actions suggest that there’s something more than a booked schedule keeping her from a Swift concert.
As a lover of both Olivia Rodrigo and celebrity drama, I long for the day that someone can give us a definitive answer on how the artists feel about each other. But I also respect Liv for not indulging any further in the discussion of how a relationship she barely even had possibly deteriorated. As Annie Clark, a.k.a. St. Vincent, said in the Times profile, “I’ve never heard her say a bad word about anyone.” No reason to start now—even if I secretly really, really, really want her to.