Fans Are Convinced Olivia Rodrigo’s “The Grudge” Takes Aim At Taylor Swift
“The drama. The anger.”
Ever since Olivia Rodrigo dropped “Vampire” in June, rumors of bad blood between her and Taylor Swift immediately began swirling. When the 20-year-old singer finally released her full Guts album on Sept. 8, sleuthing fans quickly began analyzing her lyrics for more subtle clues that her past admiration for Swift had soured. They seemed to find the confirmation they were looking for on Rodrigo’s new song, “The Grudge,” a piano ballad that several X (formerly Twitter) users are convinced “is absolutely about” Swift.
“I have nightmares each week ’bout that Friday in May / One phone call from you and my entire world was changed,” Rodrigo sings on the track. “Ooh, your flowers filled with vitriol / You built me up to watch me fall / You have everything and you still want more.”
How might those lyrics apply to Swift, and what happened between the two in the first place? Rewinding a bit, Rodrigo has long proclaimed her Swiftie status, and even interpolated her “New Years Day” on Sour’s “1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back.” Meanwhile, Swift publicly applauded Rodrigo’s “Drivers License” single in early 2021 and sent her personal gifts. The duo finally met in person at May 2021’s BRIT Awards, sharing a photo together on Instagram. Things may have taken a turn, however, soon after the aforementioned “Friday in May” when Rodrigo dropped her debut album.
Amid an apparent copyright issue regarding “Deja Vu,” Rodrigo — who said her single was partly inspired by Lover’s “Cruel Summer” — retroactively credited Swift as a co-writer, along with collaborators Jack Antonoff and St. Vincent, in July 2021. In doing so, she reportedly had to split 50% of the song’s royalties, potentially costing her millions of dollars.
In addition to the previously mentioned “The Grudge” lyrics, other lines fans highlighted included more allusions to a former friend’s betrayal. “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,” Rodrigo sings, adding, “My undying love, now I hold it like a grudge / And I hear your voice every time that I think I’m not enough.”
After one fan wrote, “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.” Another pointed out that the intro to “The Grudge” lasts 13 seconds, a possible reference to Swift’s oft-referenced lucky number.
It didn’t help quiet feud rumors when Rodrigo admitted in an August New York Times profile that she’d been too busy to attend Swift’s Eras Tour. (However, rumored “Drivers License” subject Sabrina Carpenter is now one of the Eras Tour openers.) Then, when an interviewer for The Guardian asked Rodrigo point-blank if her single, “Vampire,” was about Swift, she didn’t exactly take the opportunity to dispel any rumors.
“How do I answer this?” the “Brutal” artist replied in the piece that dropped on Sept. 2. “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. ... I was very surprised when people thought that.”
Though she’s yet to directly address later speculation surrounding “The Grudge,” it’s possible not all hope is lost for her and Swift in the future, if a rift truly exists between the two. At the end of her new song, Rodrigo confesses, “Even after all this, you’re still everything to me.”