Olivia Rodrigo has taken her ‘drivers license’ and is now going places in the music industry. Only three months after she broke the streaming charts with her debut single, comes the release of indie-pop song ‘deja vu’; the track precedes an eleven-track album set for release on 21 May (though the title and track list have yet to be disclosed).
Starting gracefully with twinkling music-box piano and innocent details of strawberry ice cream and car rides to Malibu, ‘deja vu’ highlights Rodrigo’s incredible vocals as she sings about teenage infatuation. Yet while ‘drivers license’ basks in the melancholy of a break-up, ‘deja vu’ is powerful in its dedication to the anger residing after the initial hurt. The piercing lyrics shade an ex for moving on with a new girlfriend and immersing themselves in a relationship so similar that it creates these feelings of ‘deja vu’. Rodrigo begins the second verse stating: “I bet that she knows Billy Joel / ‘Cause you played her ‘Uptown Girl'” and “She thinks it’s special / it’s all re-used”, singing about past memories that have now been shared with someone else.
Countering the bitterness of the lyrics, the chorus progresses the song with the addition of grunge-inspired over-driven guitar and drumbeats (think the production on Lorde’s ‘Hard Feelings’) as Rodrigo quips “Do you get deja vu?”. Though like her debut single, it’s the concluding bridge that perfectly ties the track together. When Rodrigo stated in the premiere the bridge is her favourite part, it is now clear that she is a master at creating these powerful crescendos to end her songs. With parallels to the first verse, the repetition in the bridge enhances the titular feeling and is reminiscent of Taylor Swift’s ‘Cruel Summer’ in its melody.
Sharing a subtle resemblance to its predecessor ‘drivers license’, the corresponding music video to the track marks the return of the White Mercedes, though now driving around sunny Malibu roads instead of dusky streets, in this colourful watch. It rejoices the arrival of sunnier weather and a newer state of mind as self-growth is encapsulated in the overall ambience. Though the vintage TVs do succumb to Rodrigo’s revenge tirade and end up in shards like in her ‘mom’ Taylor Swift’s ‘Blank Space’ video. Allie Avital’s directorial choices showcase the grandeur and Hollywood movie star aspects. Talia Ryder poses as the new girlfriend experiencing all that Rodrigo did first; as Ryder is seen driving in the car and eating strawberry ice cream the idea that we’ve seen this all before is hammered home.
Despite seeming underwhelming following the global success of ‘drivers license’, ‘deja vu’ demonstrates Rodrigo’s versatility. Not only is she a beautiful ballad singer, but it’s clear she’s more than capable of producing an upbeat summer tune too.
Words by Emilia Butcher-Marroqui
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