By Christina Cannady | Photographer
In August of 2019, Taylor Swift released her seventh studio album, but her first one after leaving Big Machine Records, titled “Lover.” The second track on this album is “Cruel Summer,” a fast beat song about an intense, painful summer romance. Natalia Barr of Consequence of Sound deemed “Cruel Summer” an “essential track” and “one of the most perfect pop songs of 2019.”
Meanwhile, Olivia Rodrigo is an up-and-coming artist who got her start in acting on the Disney channel show, “Bizaardvark” and the Disney+ series, “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” In January, Rodrigo released her record-breaking debut single, “Driver’s License,” which received praise from Taylor Swift as they were currently sharing the top charts together, Swift with tracks from her latest album “Evermore.”
On April 1, Rodrigo released another single, “Déjà Vu,” along with the announcement of her debut album which is set for release May 21. I was scrolling Instagram when someone pointed out that the bridge of “Déjà Vu” sounds awfully familiar and compared it to the bridge of Swift’s “Cruel Summer.” Specifically, Rodrigo’s lines, “I know you get deja vu” and Swift’s, “I don’t want to keep secrets just to keep you.” The two songs maintain a distinct sound until the bridge. Swift takes her fans to “Bridge City” in it, according to MTV. So when “Cruel Summer” was released, although not as a single, the unique sound of the bridge was one to remember.
Some fans see the similarity as a nod of appreciation to Swift, while others think the bridge is just too similar. “Cruel Summer” was never released as a single, which can be blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic, it caused Swift to cancel her Lover Fest tour. There was also concern about the title of the song, seemingly audacious during one of the cruelest summers for a lot of people. Because of this, the song did not get the recognition it deserved. “Déjà Vu” currently sits at #3 on Rolling Stone’s Top 100 Songs chart. The fate of Rodrigo’s song is on its way up, while Swift’s “Cruel Summer” remains in the shadows.
Rodrigo can credit some of her exposure to Swift; their first social media interaction was when Rodrigo sang a cover of “Cruel Summer” for MTV and Swift responded with praise. Swift also supported Rodrigo on social media after the release of her hit, “Driver’s License.”
Rodrigo can’t be unfamiliar with the sound of “Cruel Summer,” she has to know her and Swift’s respective bridges sound very similar. Considering Rodrigo’s Instagram, she has plenty of other original works with their own unique sounds. Rodrigo’s bridge in her hit song seems like a cheap ticket to the charts because she knows that particular sound and beat will succeed.
Swift is not shy when it comes to legal action regarding protecting her original work. However, I don’t think anything will come of the bridges’ similarity due to the support and love Swift has shown for Rodrigo as a young and upcoming artist.