Olivia Rodrigo once called Taylor Swift her hero — how songwriting credits, money may have caused rivalry (2024)

When the biggest names in music battle it out at the Grammys on Sunday night, all eyes will be on Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo.

The stars will go head to head in the three biggest categories: Record, Album, and Song of the Year at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.

But some in the industry — and plenty of fans online — are convinced there is a rivalry that goes well beyond the Grammys. Everyone is waiting to see just where the two will be seated.

“They’re both huge stars, so they’ll both be in the front row — but I can’t see them being too close together,” one well-placed music insider told Page Six.

By the laws of showbiz, Rodrigo — who will be performing Sunday — should be part of Swift’s squad.Swift is, after all, keen to promote young artists, and especially women.

During the North American leg of her Eras tour last year, she brought along Gracie Abrams, Phoebe Bridgers, Beabadoobee, and others as openers.

Noticeably absent was Rodrigo.

“Olivia could have been on stage during the Eras tour — she could have been part of Taylor’s inner circle —but I don’t think she showed enough respect,” a one source familiar with Swift’s music dealings told Page Six.


Both stars are signed to Universal Music Group (UMG) but the pair have faced rumors about their relationship ever since Rodrigo, 20, was forced to give Swift, 34, a credit on her song “Deja Vu” — and a small fortune in royalties.

Although Rodrigo recently said she has “no beef” with anyone and Page Six is told that Swift herself has no problem with the young star, we are also told that, behind the scenes, Swift’s legal camp intervened after the release of “Deja Vu.”

Meanwhile, Rodrigo has never explicitly denied that her song “Vampire” is about Swift.


The story goes back to the 2021 release of Rodrigo’s debut album, “Sour.”

At the time, Rodrigo — a former child star who rose to fame on the Disney+ show “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series”—was, she said, the “biggest Swiftie in the whole world.”

Her “entire life just, like, shifted in an instant,” Rodrigo told the New York Times, when she released her debut single, the teen heartbreak ballad “Driver’sLicense,” which she co-wrote with producer Dan Nigro, in January 2021.

Within a week it broke Spotify records and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.


Rodrigo met her hero, Swift, at the BRIT Awards soon after, with the pair posing for a photo.

“I say that’s my baby and I’m proud,” Swift crowed about Rodrigo on social media and gave the younger artist a ring similar to one she wore while making her “Red” album.

But when “Sour” was released that May, things got a little bitter.

The album originally gave a songwriting credit to Swift and her frequent collaborator, Jack Antonoff, for “1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back,” which interpolates the Swift song “New Year’s Day” —essentially, taking a note-for-note section of the song and re-recording it.


Weeks later, Swift and Antonoff’s names were quietly added to the credits for “Deja Vu,” another song on Rodrigo’s album, for an interpolation of “Cruel Summer” by Swift. (“Cruel Summer” songwriter Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, was also added to the “Deja Vu” credit.)

But this wasn’t just about credit; it also meant money.

Billboard reported that Swift, Antonoff, and Clark would share a 50% stake in the song, while Rodrigo and producer Nigro split the rest.

This amounted to $325,678 in publishing royalties for Swift, $260,542 for Antonoff, and $65,135 for St. Vincent.


Page Six has reached out to both Swift and Rodrigo’s camps for comment.

Rodrigo also had to belatedly give songwriting credits to Paramore —whose singer, Hayley Williams, is a good friend and tour mate of Swift — on another No. 1 hit, “Good 4 U,” which allegedly interpolated that band’s song “Misery Business.”

“It seems like people get funny about things when songs become really popular,” Nigro told Time.

Notably, when someone on Twitter pointed out that Rodrigo’s song “Brutal” was “a pretty much direct lift from Elvis Costello” and his song “Pump It Up,” Costello was quick to defend Rodrigo.


“This is fine by me … It’s how rock and roll works. You take the broken pieces of another thrill and make a brand-new toy. That’s what I did,” Costello tweeted.

He added the hashtags “#subterreneanhomesickblues” and “#toomuchmonkeybusiness” —references to Bob Dylan and Chuck Berry songs that “Pump It Up” inspiration from.

“I think it’s disappointing to see people take things out of context and discredit any young woman’s work,” Rodrigo told Teen Vogue. “Every single artist is inspired by artists who have come before them. It’s sort of a fun, beautiful sharing process. Nothing in music is ever new. There’s four chords in every song. That’s the fun part — trying to make that your own.”

When Rodrigo’s sophom*ore album, “GUTS,” was released in September 2023, the internet immediately lit up with theories.


Just as fans have long analyzed Swift’s lyrics for clues as to who and what they’re about, listeners were convinced “The Grudge” —with the lyrics “Took everything I loved and crushed it in between your fingers … And I hear your voice every time that I think I’m not enough” is all about Swift:

Meanwhile, legions of TikTokkers were also buzzing that Rodrigo’s hit “Vampire” is also about Swift, with lyrics like:

“I used to think I was smart
But you made me look so naive
The way you sold me for parts
You sunk your teeth into me”


Asked in an interview with The Guardian if “Vampire” is about Swift, Rodrigo whispered, “How do I answer this?

“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.”

“It would have been super easy for Olivia just to answer that question by saying ‘No,'” said the music source. “She could have made it very clear.”


Rodrigo, who is about to embark on her sold-out tour, told Rolling Stone in September, “I don’t have beef with anyone … I’m very chill. I keep to myself. I have my four friends and my mom, and that’s really the only people I talk to, ever. There’s nothing to say.”

Asked about the publishing drama, Rodrigo admitted, “I was a little caught off guard. At the time it was very confusing, and I was green and bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Is that the phrase?”

Sources are clear that, for Swift, at least, there is no bad blood.


She was seen clapping and cheering when Rodrigo performed and won at the VMAs in September.

Now Rodrigo and Swift will go head to head on Sunday.

Rodrigo has already won three Grammys in her short career, while Swift has a staggering 12 under her belt.

The music source predicted that the two could finally show the public that there’s no bad blood: “You may see Taylor being the bigger person and some moment of interaction between them.”

Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts

I am a passionate and knowledgeable enthusiast in the field of music, with a deep understanding of the industry, its trends, and the dynamics between artists. My expertise is demonstrated through a thorough understanding of the intricacies and controversies surrounding the biggest names in music, such as Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo. I have closely followed their careers, including their achievements, controversies, and interactions within the music industry. My insights are based on a comprehensive understanding of the music industry, including the business aspects, creative processes, and the relationships between artists and industry insiders.

Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo at the Grammys

When the biggest names in music battle it out at the Grammys on Sunday night, all eyes will be on Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo. The stars will go head to head in the three biggest categories: Record, Album, and Song of the Year at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. The industry and fans are eagerly anticipating the event, with rumors of a rivalry between the two artists extending beyond the Grammys. There is speculation about their seating arrangements, with suggestions that they may not be seated too close together, indicating a potential underlying tension [[1]].

Relationship Dynamics and Controversies

The relationship dynamics between Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo have been a subject of intense speculation. Both artists are signed to Universal Music Group (UMG), and rumors about their relationship have persisted since Rodrigo was required to credit Swift on her song "Deja Vu" and provide royalties. Despite Rodrigo's statement that she has "no beef" with anyone, there have been behind-the-scenes interventions from Swift's legal camp after the release of "Deja Vu" [[1]].

Credit and Royalties

The controversy extends to songwriting credits and royalties. Swift and her collaborator, Jack Antonoff, were credited for the song "1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back" on Rodrigo's album "Sour," as well as for the song "Deja Vu," which resulted in significant financial implications. Rodrigo also had to give songwriting credits to Paramore for another hit, "Good 4 U." These controversies have sparked discussions about the nature of songwriting credits and the financial implications for artists [[1]].

Artistic Inspiration and Interpretation

The controversy also involves artistic inspiration and interpretation. There have been discussions about the similarities between Rodrigo's songs and those of other artists, leading to debates about the nature of artistic inspiration and the sharing of musical elements. Notably, when comparisons were drawn between Rodrigo's song "Brutal" and Elvis Costello's "Pump It Up," Costello defended Rodrigo, emphasizing the shared nature of musical inspiration [[1]].

Public Perception and Responses

The public perception of the controversies has been a topic of discussion. Fans have analyzed Rodrigo's lyrics for potential references to Swift, and there have been speculations about the nature of Rodrigo's hit "Vampire" in relation to Swift. Rodrigo's responses to these speculations have been carefully worded, with an emphasis on not pigeonholing her songs to specific interpretations. Despite the controversies, Swift has been seen supporting Rodrigo at events, indicating a potentially amicable relationship between the two artists [[1]].

Conclusion and Predictions

As the Grammys approach, there are predictions that the public may witness a positive interaction between Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo, potentially dispelling the rumors of rivalry. Despite the controversies and speculations, both artists have achieved significant success in their careers, with Rodrigo already winning three Grammys and Swift holding an impressive 12 under her belt [[1]].

In summary, the dynamics between Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo, including controversies, artistic inspiration, and public responses, have been subjects of intense speculation and analysis within the music industry and among fans.

Olivia Rodrigo once called Taylor Swift her hero — how songwriting credits, money may have caused rivalry (2024)
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