Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo may have taken one step forward and three steps back.
Rodrigo grew up as a self-proclaimed “diehard” fan of Swift, first covering her songs at the age of four. After Rodrigo’s song “Driver’s License” from her debut album, Sour, hit No. 1 on the charts in January 2021, Swift showed her support to the ingénue by sending Rodrigo a handwritten note with personalized gifts to celebrate the single’s huge success.
“I got a letter from Taylor Swift last night, which is insane. Last night, I opened it for the first time, so I’m still reeling,” Rodrigo gushed to Radio.com in March 2021. “My tears are on it, my snot from sobbing my eyes out is on it. I love her. One of my favorite lyrics of hers is, ‘Past me, I’d like to tell you not to get lost in these petty things / Your nemeses will defeat themselves before you get the chance to swing.’ It’s in ‘Long Story Short’ off of Evermore. So she wrote about that in her letter a little bit. She’s like, ‘I think we make our own luck and I think when you’re kind to people and do what’s right, it always comes back to you in the best way.’ I just adore her and that’s what I’ve literally been thinking about since I opened that thing last night, it’s the only thing in my brain. […] I actually can’t talk about it, I’m, like, going to cry. It’s so insane, I can’t even comprehend.”
Swift was seemingly becoming a mentor for Rodrigo, but the duo’s relationship appeared to hit a snag after Rodrigo released her second single, “Deja Vu,” in April 2021. Some listeners pointed out similarities to Swift’s “Cruel Summer” — a song Rodrigo admitted she used as inspiration while writing her album.
Swift — along with her collaborators Jack Antonoff and St. Vincent — were ultimately given retroactive royalties on the song, but Swift and Rodrigo haven’t addressed each other publicly since.
Keep scrolling for every high and low between Swift and Rodrigo over the years:
A Cruel Cover
In April 2020, Rodrigo performed a cover of “Cruel Summer” — a track off Swift’s 2019 album Lover — for MTV’s Alone Together Jam Session.
“THE TALENT,” Swift wrote via her Instagram Story of the rendition. “Love This!!! Thanks for this beautiful performance @olivia.rodrigo @mtv.”
Born to be a Swiftie
Even before she was uploading Instagram videos of herself rocking out in her car to Swift’s “Better Than Revenge,” Rodrigo was the “world’s biggest Swiftie,” claiming the Folklore singer’s lyrics even helped her form some of her earliest songs.
“I was making up songs about pickup trucks, even though I had never seen a pickup truck in my life up to that point,” Rodrigo told Nylon magazine in 2021 of being inspired by Swift’s hit track “Picture to Burn.”
Dance Party Promo
Rodrigo and BFF Conan Gray took to social media to help tease the re-release of Swift’s song “You Belong With Me” in April 2021. In the TikTok clip, the pair recreated the iconic music video by writing each other signs, jumping on the bed and lip-syncing into hairbrushes.
Screaming, Crying, Throwing Up
When Rodrigo’s song “Driver’s License” charted at No. 3 on iTunes in January 2021, it landed directly below two of Swift’s songs, “It’s Time to Go” and “Right Where You Left Me.” At the time, Rodrigo shared a screenshot of the list via Instagram, writing, “Next to Taylor on the US iTunes chart I’m in a puddle of tears.”
Swift, for her part, reciprocated with her own comment: “I say that’s my baby and I’m proud.”
Rodrigo then shared the comment to her social media page, captioning the post, “What is breathing?”
Rodrigo later gushed about having so many of her idols reach out to congratulate her on her success. “Taylor obviously commented on my Instagram post and it made a big splash, it was insane,” she said in an interview with UK’s “Big Top 40” later that month. “I am the biggest Swiftie in the whole world and the fact she did that truly just made my life.”
An Ingenue in the Making
Swift sent Rodrigo a handwritten note and gifts in March 2021.
“She gave me this ring because she said she wore one just like it when she wrote Red and she wanted me to have one like it and all of this amazing stuff,” Rodrigo told Sirius XM’s “The Morning Mashup” at the time. ”She, like, hand-wrapped these gifts.”
Enchanted to Meet You
The pair finally met in person at the Brit Awards in May 2021, where they posed for a sweet snap. Prior to the ceremony, Rodrigo penned a handwritten note to Swift — as well as Harry Styles and Little Mix.
The duo’s blossoming friendship seemingly hit a snag when Rodrigo’s debut album, Sour, was released later that month. Swift was always credited on the song “1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back,” which uses an interpolation of her track “New Year’s Day.”
However, Swift was retroactively credited for Rodrigo’s second single, “Deja Vu,” in July 2021, after listeners accused her of plagiarism and copyright infringement via social media.
Billboard later reported in September 2021 that Rodrigo had given up “millions” in royalties on each of the songs.
Bloodsucker, Fame F—ker?
After Rodrigo released the single “Vampire” in August 2023, some fans began to speculate the pop anthem was about Swift. The pointed lyrics seemed to tease a falling-out, but it was unclear if Rodrigo was singing about a romantic or platonic relationship.
Rodrigo later appeared to shut down the rumors, telling The Guardian in September 2023, “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.”
Not in Any Era
When asked by The Guardian if she went to see Swift’s Eras Tour, Rodrigo explained that the promotion of her second album, Guts, kept her from attending.
“I haven’t [gone] yet,” she told the outlet. “I’m going to Europe this week.”
Holding a Grudge?
Following the release of Rodrigo’s second studio album, Guts, in September 2023, listeners immediately began to speculate if the song “The Grudge” was referencing the copyright issue that unfolded between her and Swift.
“The arguments that I’ve won against you in my head / In the shower, in the car, and in the mirror before bed,” Rodrigo sings in the second verse. “Yeah, I’m so tough when I’m alone, and I make you feel so guilty / And I fantasize about a time you’re a little f–kin’ sorry.”
She adds in the chorus: “Ooh, do you think I deserved it all? / Oh, your flower’s filled with vitriol / You built me up to watch me fall / You have everything and you still want more.”
While in attendance at the 2024 Grammys, Swift was seen singing along to Rodrigo’s performance. She also applauded Rodrigo, who returned the favor when Swift won for Best Pop Vocal Album later that night.