The Real Meaning Behind Olivia Rodrigo's The Grudge

When Olivia Rodrigo released her highly anticipated sophomore album, "Guts," fans' expectations were at an all-time high. Unsurprisingly, she delivered a fantastic record that was a hit among fans and critics alike. As a singer-songwriter, Rodrigo didn't hold back as she spilled her guts about the complex emotions she experienced following a series of heartbreaks. 

"Guts" features several tear-jerkers like "Pretty Isn't Pretty," "Making The Bed," "Teenage Dream," and, of course, "The Grudge." The track was written by Rodrigo and her regular collaborator, Dan Nigro, and it seems like it came straight from Rodrigo's heart judging by her incredible vocal performance on the track, which perfectly captures her hurt. In fact, as the song progresses and delves deeper, she can barely hold herself together.

"The Grudge" perfectly captures the feelings of confusion, longing, loss, and betrayal that come after a tumultuous relationship finally ends. Rodrigo sings about how it fell apart because of a betrayal that left her with tons of unanswered questions. To make matters worse, her ex doesn't believe he was in the wrong, so she didn't even get an apology for all the hurt caused. The song features a soft piano production that progressively gets louder in the chorus as Rodrigo pours her heart out and releases everything she's been holding in.

Is The Grudge about Olivia Rodrigo's inability to let go?

"The Grudge" features clever wordplay that details how the love Olivia Rodrigo held so dear to her heart is now being clung to in a more negative, stubborn way because her partner betrayed her, with the lyrics: "My undying love, now I hold it like a grudge." In a way, the track seems to be a continuation of "Traitor," from "Sour," since both songs feature references to a betrayal from a loved one who doesn't regret their actions. 

"The Grudge's" opening lines describe how Rodrigo can't stop replaying a heartbreaking, life-changing phone call over and over in her mind. While she's stuck in that moment, the singer-songwriter knows her ex isn't thinking about his actions. She can't understand why he betrayed her trust, suggesting, "You must be insecure, you must be so unhappy." On the surface, Rodrigo seems fine because she's created a facade, but on the inside, she's still deeply hurt by his actions. 

Since Rodrigo's ex isn't in her life anymore, she has no choice but to argue with the memory of him as she goes about her day, during which she manages to make him finally feel remorse by explaining the feelings she couldn't in reality. She knows that letting go and moving on is the right move, but that's easier said than done. In the song's final chorus, she defeatedly sings, "But even after all this, you're still everything to me," because, devastatingly, a part of her still loves her ex. 

Could The Grudge actually be about Taylor Swift?

For a while, Olivia Rodrigo and Taylor Swift had a great relationship. The two singer-songwriters repeatedly expressed their love for each other through supportive social media posts. But it all came crashing down with the release of Rodrigo's debut album. Originally, Swift was only credited as a songwriter for "1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back" since it extrapolated "New Year's Day." However, eagle-eyed fans quickly noticed that Rodrigo's "Deja Vu" resembled Swift's "Cruel Summer," so she ultimately credited Swift, Jack Antonoff, and St. Vincent as writers on that track too. 

As a result, Rodrigo had to shell out millions in royalties to them. Following this incident, Rodrigo and Swift seemed to put their friendship on ice and they stopped interacting publicly. So, it's only natural certain fans believe "The Grudge" is secretly about Swift. The line "And I hear your voice every time that I think I'm not enough" could allude to Rodrigo doubting her songwriting abilities since Swift was a long-time inspiration for her. 

"And I try to be tough, but I wanna scream" might refer to how Rodrigo can't make her struggles known since the "Blank Space" hitmaker is such a beloved figure. "You have everything and you still want more" could allude to Swift's desire to add to her already stunning net worth with Rodrigo's songwriting royalties. "You built me up to watch me fall" may reference how Swift was supportive of Rodrigo until her debut album dropped. The many glaring references to betrayal also perfectly fit into this theory.