20-year-old award-winning pop sensation Olivia Rodrigo just released her second album, GUTS, but within days of its release, fans criticized her for blatant plagiarism. This has been going on since the release of her debut album “SOUR” in 2021. The never-ending backlash against “stealing” other artists’ music doesn’t seem to be abating, despite Rodrigo won three Grammy Awards and made history with his debut album going four times platinum.
Taylor Swift is among the many artists that Rodrigo has “stole” from, but most of the similarities that Swifties (Taylor Swift fans) have noticed involve similar chord progressions. Many fans don’t recognize the fact that Rodrigo gives Swift credit for her song “1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back.” Despite the similarities between Swift’s “New Year’s Day” and Rodrigo’s “1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back”, Swift gave Rodrigo permission to use her specific chord progressions to create her own song. So technically it cannot be considered theft if permission was given.
After the release of “SOUR”, Paramore sued Rodrigo for the similarities between Rodrigo’s “good 4 u” and Paramore’s “Misery Business”. As a result of the lawsuit, Rodrigo continued to pay millions of dollars in royalties to Paramore’s Hayley Williams and was forced to give Williams credit for the song. It’s important to note that Rodrigo took responsibility for her actions in an interview with Teen Vogue. She was then accused of plagiarizing Elvis Costello’s “Pump It Up” in her “brutal” song, but Costello didn’t seem to mind. According to an interview with PaperCostello believes this is how rock ‘n’ roll works.
So what about the plagiarism controversy surrounding “GUTS”? TikTok users are now accusing Rodrigo of copying Miley Cyrus’ song “Start All Over” because the same chord progression is used in “All-American Bitch.” In reality, the accusers are just looking for a reason to be angry because Rodrigo is a new artist, so they want to dismantle everything she does. When “SOUR” was released, they wanted to pit her and Swift against each other simply because society loves to see two successful women pitted against each other just for the sake of drama. While Swift never sued Rodrigo, as many TikTok users claim, the online controversy stemmed from the misconception that Rodrigo was not given credit.
Fans should understand that there will never be any new chord progressions. Music has been around for centuries, so there are bound to be similarities or even the same chord progressions used. It’s simply impossible to be original in something that’s been remade a million times without Rodrigo stealing from other artists. If people want to blame it for having similar riffs or chords, they need to look at all the other songs, because to some extent they all sound at least a little bit the same. It’s time to let new artists succeed with their accomplishments and let them have fun doing it.