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Is Olivia Rodrigo’s The Grudge About Taylor Swift?


Olivia Rodrigo knows betrayal. On her breakout hit “Drivers License,” she sings about heartbreak and abandonment after an ex moved on with a “that blonde girl;” on her debut album Sour, she flat-out says “You betrayed me” on the track “Traitor.” On her sophomore album, Guts, which dropped last night, she continues to explore those feelings in different ways.

On the track “The Grudge” in particular, she sings about someone she had an “undying love” for who broke her trust and left her deeply hurt. In the first verse, she sings:

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
But I hold onto every detail like my life depends on it

Who did this to Olivia?? Is it the “blood sucker” who inspired “Vampire” or the “master manipulator” from “Logical”? Or maybe the not-six-foot-two dude on “Get Him Back”? Listeners on Twitter (okay, fine, X) were inclined to believe it was about someone else. With rumors of a “feud”—take that with a chunk of salt—swirling around Rodrigo and her idol Taylor Swift, could this grudge be about her fellow pop star?

Some fans have speculated about beef between the two singers, stemming from Rodrigo handing 50 percent of the royalties of her song “Deja Vu” to Swift following accusations that it sounded similar to her hit “Cruel Summer.” The artists didn’t address any of the retroactive crediting publicly, so who knows what really went down. Rodrigo even shut down theories that her song “Vampire” is about Swift. She told The Guardian, “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 added, “I was very surprised when people thought that.”

She brings up a fair point: Why must we insist that there’s a feud anyway? Yes, we’re human beings who love petty drama and conspiracy theories (remember how we all freaked out when “Drivers License” first dropped?) but there’s so much more to appreciate on Guts too, like the awfully relatable embarrassment on “Ballad of a Homeschooled Girl” and every crushing line in the album closer, “Teenage Dream.”

Rodrigo, a seemingly diplomatic celebrity, gets why there’s so much public interest in her relationships and personal life. “It’s an interesting thing to think about,” she told Vogue. “I understand it. I could sit here and be like, ‘I don’t get why people do that,’ but I do it so often.”

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Read the full lyrics to “The Grudge” below, courtesy of Genius.

[Verse 1]
I have nightmares each week ’bout that Friday in May
One phone call from you and my entire world was changed
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
But I hold onto every detail like my life depends on it
My undying love, now I hold it like a grudge
And I hear your voice every time that I think I’m not enough

[Chorus]
And I try to be tough, but I wanna scream
How could anybody do the things you did so easily?
And I say I don’t care, I say that I’m fine
But you know I can’t let it go, I’ve tried, I’ve tried, I’ve tried for so long
It takes strength to forgive, but I don’t feel strong

[Verse 2]
The arguments that I’ve won against you in my head
In the shower, in the car and in the mirror before bed
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 fuckin’ sorry
And I try to understand why you would do this all to me
You must be insecure, you must be so unhappy
And I know, in my heart, hurt people hurt people
And we both drew blood, but, man, those cuts were never equal

[Chorus]
And I try to be tough, but I wanna scream
How could anybody do the things you did so easily?
And I say I don’t care, I say that I’m fine
But you know I can’t let it go, I’ve tried, I’ve tried, I’ve tried for so long
It takes strength to forgive, but I don’t feel strong

[Bridge]
Ooh, do you think I deserved it all?
Ooh, your flower’s filled with vitriol
You built me up to watch me fall
You have everything and you still want more

[Chorus]
I try to be tough, I try to be mean
But even after all this, you’re still everything to me
And I know you don’t care, I guess that that’s fine
But you know I can’t let it go, I’ve tried, I’ve tried, I’ve tried for so long
It takes strength to forgive, but I’m not quite sure I’m there yet
It takes strength to forgive, but

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Erica Gonzales is the Senior Culture Editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage on TV, movies, music, books, and more. She was previously an editor at HarpersBAZAAR.com. There is a 75 percent chance she’s listening to Lorde right now. 



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