Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo’s relationship generated headlines across outlets last week, as fans speculated whether Rodrigo’s new Guts track “The Grudge” could be about her relationship with her idol Swift. At the MTV VMAs, Swift and Rodrigo didn’t pose for photographs together to try to shut down rumors.
Swift did, however, show support for Rodrigo during the broadcast when she was filmed cheering when Rodrigo’s name was announced and applauding during her performance.
Overall, it was a drama-free night for the two artists but a reunion-free one, too. Rodrigo and Swift were not photographed interacting at the ceremony.
Swift had warm moments with other musicians though, including Sabrina Carpenter (the rumored “blonde” in Rodrigo’s “drivers license” and one of Swift’s opening acts on her Eras tour), Ice Spice, and Selena Gomez.
Rodrigo recently shut down speculation of beef in Rolling Stone’s new cover story. “I don’t have beef with anyone,” she said. “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.” She adds: “There’s so many Twitter conspiracy theories. I only look at alien-conspiracy theories.”
Fans speculated drama may have resulted from Rodrigo giving 50 percent of the royalties of song “Deja Vu” to Swift retroactively, following accusations that the bridge of “Deja Vu” sounded similar to Swift’s “Cruel Summer.”
When reporting on the news in July 2021, Variety noted that the influence of “Cruel Summer” on the track was “less tangible” than Swift’s influence on “1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back.” Rodrigo spoke about interpolating Swift’s song “New Year’s Day” for the latter track.
With “Deja Vu,” Rodrigo discussed being inspired by “Cruel Summer” in an April 2021 interview, months before Swift and Jack Antonoff got their retroactive co-writing credits on it.
Rodrigo told Rolling Stone, “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. But I wanted the last bridge to go crazy and I love ‘Cruel Summer’; it’s one of my favorite songs ever. 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.”
Two years later, the songwriter crediting issue led some fans to speculate that Rodrigo’s first Guts single “Vampire” was about Swift, along with the fact Swift tapped Sabrina Carpenter to open her Eras tour.
Rodrigo responded to that Swift rumor during her September interview with The Guardian, saying she was a little shocked by it.
“How do I answer this?” she began. “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 then added of Swift specifically, “I was very surprised when people thought that.”
With regards to song writing and plagiarism claims, Rodrigo said that it was “disappointing to see people take things out of context and discredit any young woman’s work.”
When writing Sour, “I was so green as to how the music industry worked, the litigious side. 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.”
Senior News and Strategy Editor
Alyssa Bailey is the senior news and strategy editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage of celebrities and royals (particularly Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton). She previously held positions at InStyle and Cosmopolitan. When she’s not working, she loves running around Central Park, making people take #ootd pics of her, and exploring New York City.