Olivia Rodrigo Slammed For Plagiarism In New Album “SOUR”



Olivia Rodrigo For Nylon

Megan Reese, Editor-In-Chief

   Eighteen-year-old Olivia Rodrigo is pop music’s newest sensation following her debut album “SOUR”. Rodrigo reportedly interpolated melodies from artists such as Taylor Swift and Hayley Williams and now has to pay millions of dollars in restitution. 

   On Jan. 8, Rodrigo released the hit song, “drivers license” and it debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It crushed many music records and went completely viral on social media. She continued to release singles like “deja vu” and “good 4 u” in anticipation of her debut album, and both singles also did tremendously well on the charts. The album, which was released on May 1, 2021, ultimately received tons of positive reviews. However, after some investigating, people caught onto some interesting similarities between Rodrigo’s album and other works of music and art. 

   First, there were similarities between Rodrigo’s ‘good 4 u’ and Paramore’s ‘Misery Business’. When fans overlaid the two songs, there were shocking melodic and instrumental similarities. Paramore singer Hayley Williams and ex-guitarist Josh Farro are now listed as co-writers on ‘good 4 u’, which results in them both making royalties off of the song. The same also happened with Rodrigo and one of her biggest musical inspirations, Taylor Swift. Jack Antonoff, Annie Clark, and Swift are the three writers of Swift’s ‘Cruel Summer’ and now all of them are listed as songwriters of Rodrigo’s ‘deja vu’, due to the interpolation. 

    With all of this talk of interpolation, what actually is it? In popular music, interpolation refers to using a melody—or portions of a melody from a previously recorded song but re-recording the melody instead of sampling it. This basically means Rodrigo took a very small portion of the sound of songs she likes and made them part of her own songs. This is not plagiarism– as she credited the artists she interpolated from, however, there are still financial consequences. 

   In the music industry, songwriter royalties are some of the biggest numbers when it comes to all of the people that get paid when songs are released. With all of the different numbers– song sales, album sales streams and radio plays, there is a lot of money on the line. So, because Rodrigo had to add more people to the songwriting credit, there are now more people to split the pot with, and that pot is looking to be at the seven-figure range, reports Variety.

   Rodrigo and her team made the call to make sure every artist involved in the creation of each song of her album was credited. Although there are financial consequences, the legal consequences would have been much worse if these artists weren’t credited and pursued legal action against the new pop music star.