The Olivia Rodrigo and Taylor Swift Grammys drama, explained

Written by on 06/12/2021

God bless Olivia Rodrigo, to whom drama seems to gravitate towards despite the fact she remains wholly unproblematic. When Sour dropped earlier this year, a string of artists seemed to come out of the woodwork pointing out vague similarities between their work and the songs on Olivia’s debut album; representatives for Taylor Swift, Jack Antonoff, St. Vincent and Hayley Williams all got their part of the coin for the “interpolation” of their tracks. So when it came to Grammys time, and Olivia racked up a cool seven nominations including one for Album of the Year, Taylor, Jack and St. Vincent automatically earned nominations for that prize too. But now, that trio’s names have been removed from the ballot. Confused? Well, here’s why.

So, let’s take it back to the beginning. In January, shortly before “driver’s license” dropped, we did one of Olivia Rodrigo’s first ever music interviews. In it, she made it clear she loved Taylor Swift (“Even today, Lorde and Taylor are my biggest inspirations.”). On the track “1 step forward, 3 steps back”, Olivia interpolated the piano melody of Taylor’s Reputation track “New Year’s Day”, which she acknowledged from the off. Then came the choral breakdown in “deja vu”, which Olivia admitted had been inspired by Taylor’s “Cruel Summer”, written by her, Jack and Annie Clarke, aka St, Vincent. 

This summer, Taylor, Jack and Annie were subtly credited as writers on the track, suggesting someone had made the link and Olivia’s team agreed to the credit, which makes sense because she is well and truly in her bag anyway. 

Which leads us to now! As is standard, when an album is nominated for an Album of the Year prize, every songwriter and producer who worked on it gets a nomination for it too. As Taylor, Jack and Annie had worked on the songs that were interpolated, they too earned a nomination for it, meaning Taylor technically had two nominations for Album of the Year (her record Evermore is in the running too). But over the weekend, their names were dropped from the list of nominated artists under Sour, as the Grammys cited a “submission error”. 

“During the submission process, the Academy received credits from the label for the track ‘Deja Vu’,” the Grammy’s said in a statement. “Last week, we received the correct credits from the label that recognize Annie Clark, Jack Antonoff and Taylor Swift as songwriters of an interpolation on the track ‘Deja Vu.’ In keeping with current Grammy guidelines, as songwriters of an interpolated track, Clark, Antonoff and Swift are not nominees in the album of the year category for Sour.’” 

So in actual fact, T-Swift, Jack and Annie weren’t supposed to be nominated for this particular record in the first place! Not that any of them will be bothered. Taylor and Jack still have their Evermore nomination, while Annie’s album under her St. Vincent moniker, Daddy’s Home, is nominated for Best Alternative album. 

It brings the songwriter’s list on Olivia’s album to just three, one of the lowest in the Album of the Year line-up beaten only by Billie Eilish’s Happier than Ever, which includes herself and her brother Finneas. Such mistakes might have been missed on the Justin Bieber album though: Justice tops the songwriters record this year, with 73 of them listed on that one album.

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