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Olivia Rodrigo's 'Guts', Taylor Swift and women in music: Students discuss

September 27, 2023

After a long anticipated wait by her fans, singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo returned to stardom with the release of her sophomore album "Guts," which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and showcased hits like "Vampire" and "bad idea right?"

Amidst the album's growing popularity, however, heated controversy has arisen on social media as users accuse Rodrigo of copying song patterns and sounds from artists like Taylor Swift, Sabrina Carpenter and Miley Cyrus.

With the debate trending across the internet, Michigan State University students expressed their opinions on the subject.

"I've heard a lot of discourse that other songs sound like Taylor's," English freshman Murphy McIntyre said. "I definitely think that she's taken obvious inspiration (from Swift), and she's even said in interviews that she's taken direct inspiration from other songs."

Rodrigo's 2021 record-breaking debut album "Sour," which went on to land seven Grammy nominations and three wins, also faced similar controversy. One the album's songs, called “Deja Vu," was pitted against Taylor Swift's "Cruel Summer" for their similar rhythms and vocals. These accusations of copyright infringement resulted in Rodrigo giving Swift writing credits and over a million dollars in royalties for the song.

This has also led some students to believe the once tight-knit pair have grown resentful of each other. 

"I think Olivia is still mad at Taylor for suing her over 'Deja Vu'," kinesiology freshman Anya Ng said. "She doesn't want to be petty about it so she doesn’t admit it to the public."

Ng, who is a lifelong fan of Swift, said she thinks Rodrigo's new song "Grudge" is a "pretty obvious" attempt to diss Swift.

On the other hand, political science junior Lali Tobin said she believes the "beef" is crafted by reporters hungry for attention. 

"All this drama between the two is just a way for the media to get clicks," Tobin said. "They have both said that there's nothing going on between the two. I mean, you never see stories like this about men against one another. It's always women against women."

Tobin added that pitting women against women has seemed to become a common trend, particularly in the music industry. He pointed to similar "famous" rivalries between P!nk and Britney Spears, Cardi B and Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry and Lady Gaga.

Similarly, McIntyre said Rodrigo being blamed for copying music styles is just another example of this antagonistic phenomenon.

"It seems like all female artists are compared with each other," McIntyre said. "Who looks better, whose songs are better, who's more successful ... It’s just unfair.” 

In fact, many singers, such as Selena Gomez, have taken to social media to discuss the issue, as well as the harmful effects of tearing other women down.   

"It's a negative stereotype that all women represent drama," Ng said. "It's always been like that, and it's sad because it's not true and something needs to change."

Following the release of "Guts," Rodrigo announced plans to embark on a world concert tour in 2024. 

Tobin, who went to Rodrigo's first tour in 2022, said she is still debating going to the upcoming concert. Upset with the industry because of how they have treated women, Tobin said she's not sure if she should feed into it.

"We need to focus on just the music and talent, and not drama." Tobin said. "We need to move past the industry of this whole women (hate) that we continue to see all over the internet, and make a change."

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