On Friday, Olivia Rodrigo released “Vampire” — the much-anticipated lead single from her upcoming second album, Guts.
And it’s fair to say that the song has been incredibly well-received, with Olivia’s new music on track to meet the same dizzying heights that she enjoyed with her debut album Sour in 2021.
In a press release for “Vampire,” Olivia said that she wrote it because she was “upset about a certain situation” and when she went to the studio and sat down at the piano alone in December, “the chords, melody, and lyrics just poured out” of her.
“It’s a song about feeling confused and hurt,” she summarized. And on Instagram, the star said that it was “very cathartic” to finish it as she wrote: “writing this song helped me sort through lots of feelings of regret, anger, and heartache.”
Olivia went on to tell fans: “I hope it helps u deal with any bloodsuckers in your life.”
Considering the use of the word "guy" in the track, it’s unsurprising that listeners immediately attributed the inspiration behind it to Olivia’s ex, Adam Faze.
The relationship sparked controversy when it was first reported in 2021 due to the age gap between the two. Olivia was just 18 years old at the time, and producer Adam was 24.
This appears to be alluded to in “Vampire” with the lyrics: “Went for me and not her ‘cause girls your age know better.”
But shortly after the song’s release, a source close to Olivia bluntly told People: “The song isn’t about Adam Faze.”
And it wasn’t long before fans started to read between the lines and realize that the lyrics could actually be related to Olivia’s rumored feud with her former idol, Taylor Swift.
“Sorry but no one can convince me that song isn’t about Taylor Swift being the bloodsucker/vampire she’s singing about but she’s masking it by making it seem it’s about a boy,” one person tweeted after its release.
And the sentiment was widely shared, with another writing: “Olivia’s new song vampire is about Taylor swift!!!! Don’t tell me otherwise.” A third added: “the more i listen to vampire im convinced it’s about taylor swift.”
The theory has also made its way over to TikTok, but to understand it we first need to recap what happened between the two singers.
In case you didn’t know, Olivia started out as a Disney actor in the late 2010s, and starred in shows like High School Music: The Musical: The Series before turning her attention to music in 2021, when she was 17 years old.
Amid the promo around her debut single “Driver’s License,” Olivia made no secret of the fact that she was largely inspired by Taylor. In fact, during an interview with Capital FM, she called herself “the biggest Swiftie in the whole world.”
And when “Driver’s License” charted at number three on iTunes, directly below two of Taylor’s songs, Olivia proudly shared a screenshot to Instagram and wrote: “next to taylor on the us i tunes chart i’m in a puddle of tears.”
Taylor sweetly reciprocated the affection by commenting on the post: “I say that’s my baby and I’m proud.” Olivia reacted by posting a screenshot of the comment with the caption: “What is breathing?”
Taylor later shared a video of Olivia singing to her Instagram story and wrote: “THE TALENT,” which Olivia also reposted in utter disbelief that Taylor — who she credited as “the reason” she is a songwriter — had posted her and told her that she was talented.
After this, the friendship between the two singers appeared to be going from strength to strength, with Taylor even sending Olivia a handwritten note and gifts.
During an interview with Ryan Seacrest, Olivia said: “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, she’s like hand-wrapped these gifts.”
And the two finally met in person at the Brit Awards in May 2021, where they posed for an adorable photo together that Olivia shared to Instagram with the simple caption: “🥺🥺🥺🥺”
When her debut album Sour came out just days later, Taylor’s musical influence over Olivia’s work was at its most apparent in her song "1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back,” which credits Taylor after using an interpolation of her track “New Year’s Day.”
Olivia discussed how this came to be in a subsequent interview with Zach Sang, where she explained: “I came up with the '1 Step Forward' concept and I sort of wrote a verse and a chorus. I was in the car on a road trip, and when I got home, I decided to sing it over the chords of 'New Year's Day.’”
“I think they're really beautiful chords. I was lucky enough to get that approved, and it's on the record,” she added.
While this interpolation was authorized by Taylor’s team and dutifully credited by Olivia, in July — weeks after Sour’s release — fans noticed that Taylor had been retroactively credited on Olivia’s blockbuster single “Deja Vu.”
Taylor and her collaborators Jack Antonoff and St. Vincent’s names were added alongside Olivia’s and songwriter-producer Dan Nigro. This addition was apparently due to the reported interpolation of Taylor’s song “Cruel Summer” in the hit, although this appears to be much less noticeable than the “1 Step Forward” example.
Then in September, Paramore's Hayley Williams — who is close friends with Taylor — and Joshua Farro were retroactively given songwriting credits on Olivia’s hit single “Good 4 U” because of the similarities it shares with Paramore's 2007 single "Misery Business.”
Billboard later reported that with the credits Olivia had given up a huge sum of money in royalties, with Taylor, Jack, and St. Vincent said to receive a combined share of 50% of the royalties for “Deja Vu,” and Hayley and Joshua receiving an estimated combined share of 50% for “Good 4 U.”
And while the entire situation unfolded in private, other artists came forward to defend Olivia amid the claims that she’d ripped off other artists.
When the teen star was accused of copying a guitar riff from one of Elvis Costello’s songs in her track “Brutal” he tweeted: “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."
And Adam Levine also discussed the music industry “gray area.” He said: “These are tricky things and anyone who's ever written a song knows that you rip something off inadvertently, and it makes it to tape, and then it's released and then there's a lawsuit.”
"Sometimes it's not warranted that people take legal action. And I think there's definitely become more of a gray area that's reared its ugly head these days,” he went on. "I do think that we should probably meet this with a little more compassion and understanding and try to find a way… All this calling out, it's like, music is a creative thing and I just hate to see it crushed."
Olivia did not publicly address the situation at the time, but in a Rolling Stone interview with Alanis Morissette in October 2021, the two women bonded over encountering “mean girls” in the industry.
Looking back on her early success, Alanis told Olivia: “There was a lot of bullying and a lot of jealousy and a lot of people whom I’d adored my whole life being mean girls,” to which Olivia replied: “Same!”
Things seemingly worsened between Taylor and Olivia when the 2022 Grammy nominations were released the following month. After Billie Eilish in 2020, Olivia became the second youngest artist to be nominated in all four of the general categories in the same ceremony — including the much-coveted “Album of the Year.”
Because of their credits on two of Olivia’s songs, Taylor and Jack initially received nominations alongside Olivia’s team for Sour, in addition to Taylor’s personal nomination for her album Evermore.
However, the Recording Academy later backtracked and said that Taylor and Jack’s names were a submission error in relation to Sour because they weren’t actively involved in the creation of the songs on the album.
"Last week, we received the correct credits from the label that recognize Annie Clark [St. Vincent], Jack Antonoff and Taylor Swift as songwriters of an interpolation on the track 'Deja Vu,’” the Academy said in a statement in December 2021. “In keeping with current Grammy guidelines, as songwriters of an interpolated track, Clark, Antonoff and Swift are not nominees in the album of the year category for Sour.”
While neither Taylor or Olivia ended up winning this particular award, the whole debacle sparked speculation of a rift and fans have noted that the two have not publicly interacted since.
Although Olivia hasn’t directly addressed Taylor or Hayley over the song credit situation, shortly after the Grammys’s nomination withdrawal she admitted to Time: “It was really frustrating to see people discredit and deny my creativity.”
Her producer Dan pointedly added to the publication: "It seems like people get funny about things when songs become really popular."
And the rumor that Taylor and Olivia had fallen out was fueled earlier this year when they didn’t pose for a photo together at the Grammys — despite Taylor being pictured with several of her fellow artists.
Taylor has also been growing closer to Sabrina Carpenter, who was largely speculated to be Olivia’s love rival during her Sour era and is even believed to be “the blonde girl” that Olivia references in “Driver’s License.”
Shortly before Olivia announced “Vampire,” Taylor revealed that Sabrina — who she referred to as a “sweet angel princess” would be joining her on her international Eras tour as a special guest.
So, with all of that in mind it’s perhaps unsurprising that some believe that Olivia’s lyrics about feeling used and blindsided by somebody that she once loved could be about her former idol.
Not to mention that the entire concept of being bled dry by a “vampire” could be a metaphor for the money that Taylor made from securing a credit on one of Olivia’s biggest hits.
In the opening lyrics, Olivia accuses the subject of her song of building a “castle” out of people that they “pretend to care about,” which could easily be correlated to the royalties that Taylor banked from “Deja Vu” after feigning friendship with Olivia.
“I loved you truly,” Olivia sings. “Gotta laugh at the stupidity.”
And with “Vampire” being written in December of last year, the reference to someone who only comes out at night could be a nod to Taylor’s most recent album, Midnights, which was released in October and she described as being a recollection of “sleepless nights” that she’d written in the “middle of the night.”
“I used to think I was smart / But you made me look so naive / The way you sold me for parts / As you sunk your teeth into me,” Olivia goes on, with being sold for parts a possible analogy to the way that her work was given away.
“Oh, bloodsucker, famefucker / Bleeding me dry like a goddamn vampire,” the chorus concludes.
In the second verse, Olivia sings about being warned that the subject of her song was “bad, bad news” and her regret at believing their defense that all of their critics were “crazy.”
And self-proclaimed “mastermind” Taylor has previously confessed that her reputation precedes her, which makes it plausible that after almost two decades in the industry there are people who might speak out against her to upcoming new singers.
“You're so convincing / How do you lie without flinching?” Olivia asks, with her follow-up lyric “Went for me and not her / Cause girls your age know better” a potential reference to her being an easy target because she is a young and inexperienced artist compared to veterans in the industry who may be harder to manipulate.
And while Olivia’s later reference to “true love” was initially perceived to be about romantic love, it is just as possible that it is a reference to the friendship that she and Taylor shared at the start of her music career.
“You can't love anyone / Cause that would mean you had a heart,” Olivia sings. In a possible reference to Taylor's shrewd business mind, she adds: “How you think’s the kind of thing I’ll never understand.”
While neither Olivia or Taylor have acknowledged the “Vampire” theory, it is certainly growing traction online. One person tweeted: “i wish my brain would stop analyzing vampire lyrics in relation to taylor swift i am ill.”
Someone else asked: “why was olivia rodrigo's vampire being about taylor swift my first thought?” and one more added: “so we’re all in agreement that vampire is about Taylor Swift right.”