Olivia Rodrigo has retroactively added two members of Paramore to the writing credits of her hit single “Good 4 U” — the second time she’s made such a revision for songs from her blockbuster debut album, “Sour.” She had previously added Taylor Swift and cowriters to the credits of her song “Déjà vu”; Swift and cowriters were credited on Rodrigo’s “1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back” at the time of its release.
Paramore singer Hayley Williams, who is often cited as an influence and reference for Rodrigo, and ex-guitarist Josh Farro are now listed as co-writers of the song, which topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in May. Fans have long noted the similarities between “Good 4 U” and Paramore’s 2007 song “Misery Business”: Multiple mashups of the two songs can be found online.
While reps for Rodrigo declined requests for comment, a source close to the situation tells Variety the credit is actually an interpolation — which is essentially an element of a previously recorded song re-recorded and incorporated into a new song — and that the two parties were in touch before “Good 4 U” was released. While their names were not listed in the song’s credits on Spotify at the time of this article’s publication, they do in the ASCAP Repertory database.
Somewhat ironically, Paramore announced in 2018 that they were retiring “Misery Business” from their live sets, at least “for a really long time,” Williams said during a concert in the group’s hometown of Nashville. “We feel like it’s time to move away from it for a little while.” She had said previously that she no longer felt a connection to the song’s lyrics, which she had written as a teenager. Now, the song is taking on a second life due to its popularity on TikTok and the Rodrigo interpolation.
Retroactively-added songwriting credits have become increasingly common in recent years, as intellectual property lawsuits involving music have become more forensic and yet less predictable, particularly when argued before a jury of ordinary people who are not music experts, as evidenced by the back-and-forth with recent lawsuits involving Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse,” Robin Thicke and Pharrell’s “Blurred Lines” and even Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” While Perry and Led Zeppelin have largely beaten back copyright-infringement suits involving those songs, they can drag on for years and rack up thousands of dollars in legal bills, which is why the path of least resistance is often to settle out of court. Hit songs like Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” and Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” saw songwriters retroactively added to their credits — the latter song twice.
In Rodrigo’s case, the Paramore addition seems more clear-cut than the second Swift one, as the songs bear melodic and instrumental similarities. The influence of Swift’s “Cruel Summer” on “Deja Vu” is less tangible, however — amounting basically to yelling on the bridge, which is more of an arrangement touch than a songwriting one — even though Rodrigo has acknowledged the influence in interviews.
In fact, the move may have gone unnoticed if not for an Instagram post by Paramore’s publishers, Warner Chappell Music celebrating the song’s success, adding, “Huge shoutout to our writers Hayley Williams and Joshua Farro.” Williams shared the post, adding: “Our publisher is wildin rn.”
However, one artist who declined to pursue a claim against Rodrigo is Elvis Costello. After Rodrigo was accused of co-opting a guitar riff from his 1978 song “Pump It Up” on her latest single, “Brutal,” Costello shrugged it off in a Twitter post. “This is fine by me,” he wrote. “It’s how rock & roll works. You take the broken pieces of another thrill and make a brand new toy. That’s what I did.”
Courtney Love, however, felt otherwise, accusing Rodrigo of copying the cover of her band Hole’s 1994 album “Live Through This” for the Sour Prom artwork, but there was little legal standing for the claim (the image derives largely from the 1976 film “Carrie,” among other possible references) and Rodrigo told Variety last month that she “didn’t really think about it.”