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Photo Credit: Teen Vogue

Olivia Rodrigo’s “get him back!” vs. Taylor Swift’s “imgonnagetyouback”: Is there a case for song theft? (Op-Ed)

It’s quite obvious that a fair portion of today’s hits take advantage of “sampling”, or utilizing existing musical patterns, lyrics, melodies, and more in original songs and compositions. 

While there’s no doubt that this exists and that several artists take advantage of the method, there is some controversy as to what exactly “counts” as sampling, and whether an artist had intentions to rip off or honor their inspiration. 

One of the most recent examples of this is critiquing Taylor Swift’s track “imgonnagetyouback” off of her latest album, “The Tortured Poets Department” (2024) for its similarities to Olivia Rodrigo’s hit “get him back!”, hailing from “GUTS” (2023). 

Beyond the likeness among both songs titles, both featuring lowercase lettering and unconventional grammar, there was an observation by both fanbases (who often intermingle and overlap) that these tracks have quite similar messages. For those who are fans of Rodrigo and do not care for Taylor Swift, this was seen as a direct ripoff of the 21-year old’s song, capitalizing off of its commercial success and public featuring, such as in the soundtrack for “Mean Girls” (2024). 

While both songs do poke fun and play into the double entendre of “getting someone back”, i.e., resuming a romantic relationship with them or enacting revenge on them, it is important to note that both albums from these artists were produced separately with years of preparation behind the scenes leading to their releases. 

As well, when analyzing both tracks lyrics throughout the duration of the song, it’s clear that the phrasing in the chorus is the most obvious similarity, with Swift’s lyrics eliciting a more forthright, whimsical, and confident tone, focusing on her mindset more than the actions, whereas Rodrigo’s is more tailored towards the rite-of-passage, petty emotional hurt that may accompany a first love or heartbreak, insulting the partner in question and swinging between rose-colored lenses on their relationship, or a full revenge plot. 

As a fan of both songs, it’s clear that this is a case of fandom delusion to insinuate that these artists would poach lyrics, title stylings, or song messages from each other. The best course of action as a listener is to appreciate the shared experience and unique storytelling that is portrayed in these songs, rather than fixate on the coincidental similarities of two talented artists.

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