Olivia Rodrigo Responds To Criticism About Originality
Olivia Rodrigo has responded to controversy about the originality of her songs by insisting “nothing in music is ever new.”
The 18-year-old singer and co-songwriter and producer Dan Nigro recently added Paramore’s Hayley Williams and former guitarist Joshua Farro to the credits of her hit “Good 4 U” in recognition of its interpolation of Paramore’s 2007 track “Misery Business.”
In July, Taylor Swift, Jack Antonoff and St. Vincent were added as co-writers to Rodrigo’s “Deja Vu” because of its interpolation of Swift’s 2019 song “Cruel Summer.” Swift and Antonoff were already credited on Rodrigo’s “1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back,” which interpolates Swift’s 2017 track “New Year’s Day.”
"It’s disappointing to see people take things out of context and discredit any young woman’s work," Rodrigo told Teen Vogue. "But at the end of the day I’m just really proud and happy to say that my job is being a songwriter."
In June, Elvis Costello downplayed observations on social media that Rodrigo’s song “Brutal” seemed to borrow from the 1978 Elvis Costello & The Attractions track “Pump It Up.” Costello noted: “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.”
Other artists have come to Rodrigo’s defence, including Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine. “Look, these are tricky things, and anyone who’s ever written a song knows that sometimes you rip something off inadvertently, and it makes it to tape, and then it gets released,” he said in an Instagram Story. “It’s a natural thing for it to happen.
Culture Club singer-songwriter Boy George echoed Levine’s thoughts on Twitter. “When you make music you are always making a meal out of scraps,” he wrote. “Everything is already written.”
In her interview with Teen Vogue, Rodrigo explained: "It’s tricky. Writing songs about how I feel has always been easy and fun for me, and I think the business side of music has been something I’ve had a harder time learning. I’ve been sort of growing through that this year, but I’ve just been trying to remember that I write songs because I love them.
"I feel lucky I get to do that and be a songwriter and a performer for a living. …. At the end of the day, I feel it doesn’t have too much to do with me.”
Rodrigo added that “all music is inspired by each other. Obviously, I write all of my lyrics from my heart and my life first … What’s so beautiful about music is that it can be so inspired by music that’s come out in the past. 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.”
Listen to music from Olivia Rodrigo