While Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album, Sour, has been critically acclaimed, with tracks such as ‘Traitor,’ ‘Deja Vu,’ and ‘Good 4 U’ tracking in the Billboard Top Ten, and all eleven tracks landing in the Top 30 of the Billboard Hot 100, Rodrigo has also faced swift backlash and criticism over some of the tracks— particularly her song ‘Good 4 U,’ which some believe may have been plagiarized.
While ‘Good 4 U’ continues to track internationally, landing a No. 2 spot on the Billboard Top 10, and debuting at No. 1, some fans believe that the track sounds eerily similar to Paramore’s 2007 hit: ‘Misery Business.’ These claims have been supported by numerous internet mashups of the two songs, which seamlessly match the instrumentals with the competing chorus lines, many of which garnering millions of views on TikTok and YouTube.
While for several weeks, Olivia Rodrigo ignored this pushback, she has officially responded to the criticism as of late, retroactively crediting members of Paramore, including frontwoman Hayley Williams and guitarist Josh Farro. In response to this update, Warner Chappell Music celebrated the song’s success in an Instagram story with the caption “Huge shoutout to our writers Hayley Williams and Joshua Farro.” Hayley Williams proceeded to screenshot the post, adding the caption: “Our publisher is wildin rn.”
Prior to crediting the band officially, Rodrigo has continued to cite Paramore as an influence in her album, repeatedly acknowledging their influence in interviews. However, with that being said, this isn’t the first time that Rodrigo has revised the credits on her debut album. Last month, Rodrigo retroactively added Taylor Swift, producer Jack Antonoff, and co-writer St. Vincent to the credits of her hit song ‘Deja Vu,’ due to its similarity to Taylor Swift’s 2019 release: ‘Cruel Summer.’ Like Paramore, Rodrigo has never been shy about how Swift’s work has influenced her own, and has previously credited Swift and Antonoff on her track ‘1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back,’ which is sonically similar to Swift’s 2017 track ‘New Year’s Day.’
While these updated credits could garner thousands in revenue, there is one musician who doesn’t seem to have a problem with his work influencing the album— Elvis Costello. Recently, Costello responded to accusations that a guitar riff from one of his songs had been copied for the album’s opener: ‘Brutal.’ “This is fine by me,” Costello replied in a Tweet. “It’s how rock and roll works. You take the broken pieces of another thrill and make a brand new toy. That’s what I did.”
Other musicians have also come to Rodrigo’s defense in recent weeks, including Adam Levine, who described the accusations as a ‘gray area’ in the music industry. “These are tricky things and anyone who’s ever written a song knows that you rip something off inadvertently, and it makes it to tape, and then it’s released and then there’s a lawsuit,” he explained in an Instagram story. “Sometimes it’s not warranted that people take legal action. And I think there’s definitely become more of a gray area that’s reared its ugly head these days.” While Sour continues to be an international success, the criticism which has emerged with it has catalyzed a larger legal dilemma within the music industry. As new music continues to come out, and as artists continue to influence each other the question must be asked: What constitutes plagiarism? Where do we draw the line between influence and thievery? As the saying goes: Good writers borrow, but great writers steal.