Olivia Rodrigo released three singles prior to her debut album and she did what many artists struggled with: she released three bangers. And now with the release of her album, Sour, she has her fans and pretty much the whole music world enamored with her new songs. It’s no secret that she has a love for songwriting and for Taylor Swift, so it really was only a matter of time before Rodrigo used Swift for more than just passing inspiration.
But instead of just sampling one of Swift’s many songs as artists do often, Rodrigo interpolated it. That’s a brand new word for a lot of people, but it actually might be pretty significant to many Swifties out there, and to Rodrigo, a Swift fan herself.
Olivia Rodrigo interpolated one of Taylor Swift’s songs on her new album, ‘Sour’
Rodrigo’s debut album, Sour, came out on May 21 and included 11 songs from the artist. On there were her three singles, “Drivers License,” “Deja Vu,” and “Good 4 U.”
As Genius reported, the song “1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back” included writing credits from one of Rodrigo’s idols, Taylor Swift. This is also along with Jack Antonoff, Swift’s frequent collaborator. This is because the piano part for the song is the melody for Swift’s song “New Year’s Day.”
UPROXX reported that it was interpolation and not sampling.
What’s the difference between interpolation and sampling on a track?
Again, this might be the first time you’re hearing interpolate. What does that mean? It basically just means that Rodrigo recreated the song herself, meaning that she recorded herself playing the piano melody from “New Year’s Day” and then wrote the new lyrics on top of it.
According to SongTrust.com, interpolation is when the recreation “reflects the underlying composition” of the song. When an artist samples another track’s music, they use a “snippet” of another song and put it into their new song. Just one example of this is like when Eminem sampled Aerosmith’s “Dream On” in his song “Sing For The Moment.”
SongTrust.com pointed out, just because Rodrigo played it herself doesn’t mean she didn’t have to get permission from Swift who wrote the song. But Rodrigo only had to get permission from Swift because she wrote the song. Not from the person that owns the song.
Fans think that Rodrigo did this so that Scooter Braun wouldn’t have any part in her song
So why is this important or significant? Well, because if you look at who owns Swift’s masters, it’s Scooter Braun. Swift and Braun had a very public feud since he bought Big Machine Records and Swift’s masters back in 2019.
As SongTrust.com puts it, “as the process for clearing interpolations and samples is slightly different.” Sampling a song, Rodrigo would have had to get permission from whomever owned the masters. This is typical, and usually record labels do own this, which is something Swift brought up with this issue. Again, since Rodrigo was recreating it herself (interpolating), she only needed Swift’s blessing.
Seeing how Swift was so quick to celebrate Rodrigo’s wins, this seemed like a no-brainer. And fans on Twitter believe she did this just so that Braun wouldn’t get any money from her using it on Sour. As UPROXX wrote, many fans think this. Rodrigo herself didn’t say this, and there are many reasons artists interpolate, but for Swifties, this is a nice theory.
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