Olivia Rodrigo says she “didn’t really pay attention” to criticisms of her calling out the Supreme Court on stage after it overturned the abortion rights ruling of Roe v. Wade last year, adding that “expressing your rage and dissatisfaction” is what music’s about.
The Sour singer and former High School Music: The Musical: The Series star spoke about the moment for a lengthy profile in The Guardian ahead of the release of her latest album, Guts. Her brief but impassioned speech took place ahead of her appearing onstage to sing “Fuck You” with Lily Allen during the 2022 Glastonbury music festival.
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Recalling the experience, Rodrigo — who had memorized the speech, according to Allen — said she had already asked the British pop singer if they could duet the song when, a day before they were set to go onstage, the decision came down.
“We were so devastated, crying because it felt so surreal and so awful,” Rodrigo recalled, adding that Allen then texted, suggesting they should dedicate the song to the court’s five conservative justices. “She goes, ‘See the news? I guess we know who we’re gonna dedicate this song to.’”
For the Driver’s License singer — who told the justices in front of a packed crowd “we hate you” before throwing up a middle finger — “expressing your rage and dissatisfaction” about issues that matter to you is what music’s about. “That’s actually why it’s so important – I would love, if I was a little girl, to see someone stand up for future-me like that,” she continued.
As for criticisms of the act, as well as her public criticisms of former President Donald Trump and social media messages following the murder of George Floyd, the singer-actress said, she “didn’t really pay attention to it or let it affect me.”
What did affect her, however, was the pressure around her sophomore album Guts, which comes on the heels of her unexpected breakout Sour, leading to some days where she went into the studio and just cried. “There were a good few months where I would sit at the piano and all I would think about was how I was never going to make something as good, or all the mean things that people on Twitter would say, or how I wasn’t as good as … whatever,” she explained.
Her anxiety was so high, she wouldn’t change studios — after starting sessions at Daniel Nigro’s garage studio — over money fears. “Adding a new studio to the mix would have meant more anxiety and doubt. Like: ‘Oh my God, we’re spending thousands of dollars, and I feel like I’m not writing anything good,'” she said. “It’s the antithesis of creativity.”
Rodrigo’s anxieties came after a debut album that saw her rocket to number one on the Billboard 200, setting a number of gender-based and general records along the way. But she had already faced stress with Sour, specifically accusations of plagiarism that saw her give Taylor Swift and Paramore 50 percent of the credits and royalties for her tracks “Deja Vu” and “Good 4 U.”
In a previous response, Rodrigo expressed that it was “disappointing to see people take things out of context and discredit any young woman’s work.” Now, she says it was a learning experience. “I was so green as to how the music industry worked, the litigious side,” she said. “I feel like now I know so much more about the industry, and I just feel … better equipped in that regard. It wasn’t something I thought about too much.”
After the controversy, some fans believed Rodrigo and Swift — who seemed close amid the former’s Sour rise — had a falling out, leading them to speculate that Rodrigo’s new song “Bloodsucker” was about Swift. The “Vampire” singer is “surprised” by that.
“I was very surprised when people thought that,” she said. “I mean, I never want to say who any of my songs are about. I’ve never done that before in my career and probably won’t. I think it’s better to not pigeonhole a song to being about this one thing.”
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