If one of the tracks off Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album, Sour, sounds awfully familiar, you’re not having deja vu (unless you’re listening to “Deja Vu,” LOL). Rodrigo’s melancholic “1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back” uses the same piano melody as Taylor Swift’s “New Year’s Day,” the closing track from her 2017 album, Reputation.
Rodrigo’s song “interpolates” Swift’s, meaning it borrows musical elements, Billboard confirms. And of course, Rodrigo gives credit where it’s due. Both Swift and Jack Antonoff, her longtime producer and collaborator, are credited as songwriters on “1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back.” Swifties will also note the song’s title contains a subtle “13” in it, Swift’s lucky number, which she often sneaks into lyrics, liner notes, and even Instagram posts.
Billboard also posits that Sour‘s release date, 05-21-2021, might be a nod to Swift, as the digits add up to 13…but we don’t want to go all string wall about this.
Though musically similar, the lyrics of the two songs tell very different stories. In “New Year’s Day,” the singer and her partner enjoy quiet time together after a fun night out. Though there’s fear that the relationship could end, it’s a mostly hopeful song. “1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back,” however, is about insecurity after a breakup and not understanding what went wrong.
Olivia Rodrigo has long cited Taylor Swift as one of her major inspirations, calling her “the best songwriter of all time” and self-identifying as a “Swiftie” to the core. The two finally met at the Brit Awards in May 2021 but had made contact before that, with Swift sending Rodrigo a handwritten note. “I don’t want to divulge too much because it’s really sweet and personal,” Rodrigo revealed to Billboard, adding, “But she talks a lot about how, I think, you make your own luck in the world. And when you do kind things to others, good things come your way.”
BRB, listening to these two songs back-to-back for the rest of the day.