The singer's fans believe the new song is about a possible fallout with Taylor Swift.
Olivia Rodrigo's highly anticipated sophomore album, Guts, has taken the music world by storm, with fans praising her witty lyrics and emotional depth across its 12 tracks. However, it's one song, in particular -- "The Grudge" -- that has ignited intense speculation and fan theories about a potential fallout with her idol, Taylor Swift.
Rodrigo's song, "Vampire," released in June, was the first glimpse into what fans could expect from Guts. Almost immediately, some listeners theorized that the track might be inspired by a rumored rift between Rodrigo and Swift, a relationship that had initially started with admiration and mutual support.
The roots of the speculation trace back to Rodrigo's debut album, Sour, released in May 2021. Swift was credited on the album track "1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back" due to its interpolation of Swift's 2017 song, "New Year's Day." While Rodrigo openly acknowledged the inspiration and expressed her gratitude for Swift’s approval, fans were puzzled when Swift was retroactively credited on another hit, "Deja Vu," for its alleged interpolation of Swift's "Cruel Summer."
Things escalated in August when Hayley Williams and Josh Farro from Paramore were retroactively given songwriting credits on Rodrigo's chart-topper, "Good 4 U," claiming similarities to Paramore's "Misery Business." Rodrigo reportedly agreed to share 50 percent of the royalties for each of these songs with the respective artists.
Despite the quiet handling of these credit disputes, the once-budding public friendship between Rodrigo and Swift appeared to sour. Rodrigo hinted at her disillusionment with the music industry's "mean girls" in a Rolling Stone interview with Alanis Morissette in October 2021.
Now, two years later, fans are convinced that Rodrigo's song, "The Grudge," from Guts reflects her feelings about being let down by someone she once idolized. In the track, Rodrigo alludes to betrayal, confusion, and feeling "not enough" due to someone's actions, potentially tied to the credit disputes.
The opening lyric of "The Grudge," which mentions a "Friday in May" when her "entire world" changed following a phone call, coincides with the release date of Sour (May 21, 2021). Rodrigo's lyrics express a sense of betrayal and longing to call out those responsible for her pain.
Fans also point to the lines, "You built me up to watch me fall," and "You have everything, and you still want more," suggesting that Rodrigo may be addressing her disappointment with a more established star pursuing credit for her work.
The song's reference to "flowers filled with vitriol" hints at someone who appeared supportive on the surface but was insincere, reminiscent of Swift's earlier public support of Rodrigo before the credit controversies.
On social media, fans have been quick to share their thoughts, with one Twitter user stating, "the way 'the grudge' is soooo about Taylor. Yeeeshhhhh," while another tweeted, "Olivia Rodrigo's The Grudge is about her feud with Taylor Swift, 100%."
While Rodrigo has not confirmed the song's inspiration, the lyrics and timeline have sparked intriguing speculation among fans, adding another layer of depth to her already emotional and relatable music.