Olivia Rodrigo and her main collaborator, songwriter-producer Daniel Nigro, have given Taylor Swift, Jack Antonoff and St. Vincent a songwriting credit on “Deja Vu” — the second song from Rodrigo’s blockbuster debut album “Sour” to receive such a non-collaborative credit, after “1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back.” The addition to the album’s credits was first noted by Rolling Stone.
While the two have met but apparently have never collaborated in person, Rodrigo has spoken at length about Swift’s huge influence on her own writing and artistry, and the connection between Swift’s “New Year’s Day” and “1 Step Forward” is fairly clear.
The influence of “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. Listen to both songs below.
Reps for Swift and Rodrigo did not immediately respond to Variety’s requests for comment, but what seems likely is that the matter was settled quietly behind the scenes, as is often the situation with potential copyright-infringement cases. Such cases can get extremely complicated, unpredictable and, not least, expensive when they go 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.”
Two high-profile situations that were settled out of court include Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ 2014 hit “Uptown Funk” (which has quietly added writers twice) and Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me,” the writers of which in 2015 made an undisclosed settlement with Tom Petty over their song’s similarity to his 1989 hit “I Won’t Back Down.” Petty and cowriter Jeff Lynne’s names were added to Smith’s song’s credits and royalties, even though the writers claimed not to be previously familiar with the earlier tune.
After news of the addition became public, Petty wrote in a statement, “Let me say I have never had any hard feelings toward Sam. All my years of songwriting have shown me these things can happen. Most times you catch it before it gets out the studio door but in this case it got by. Sam’s people were very understanding of our predicament and we easily came to an agreement.
“The word lawsuit was never even said and was never my intention. And no more was to be said about it,” Petty continued. “How it got out to the press is beyond Sam or myself. Sam did the right thing and I have thought no more about this. A musical accident no more no less. In these times we live in this is hardly news. I wish Sam all the best for his ongoing career. Peace and love to all.”