In January, teenage singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo broke out on the pop scene with her debut single “Drivers License.” The song’s success took even Rodrigo by surprise, topping the charts after its very first week out due to a swell of internet obsession.
Ahead of her as-yet-untitled debut album, due out on May 21st, Rodrigo has released her second single, “Deja Vu.” She and her producer Dan Nigro sat down in the studio with Rolling Stone to discuss the making of the song on the latest episode of The Breakdown.
Rodrigo and Nigro wrote the song together at the end of August last year, not too long after they penned “Drivers License.” “Deja Vu” was always going to be the second single, even before Rodrigo saw that her first single went viral. “In my Notes App on my phone, I have all of these poems and little song concepts,” she says. “One of the little hook lines that I had was ‘When she was with you do you get deja vu?’”
The pair wrote the song quickly in one day, improvising lines that reference Malibu, Glee, and Billy Joel as they fleshed out the psychedelic pop tune. But the song itself took months of work to perfect. Rodrigo had to continue re-recording vocals and make notes on new melodies while living out of Salt Lake City, Utah, where she was filming the second season of the Disney+ show High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.
For The Breakdown, Rodrigo and Nigro show off all the different versions of the track as well as some Easter eggs.
“[We] didn’t want to do the safe thing and put out another heartbreak ballad,” Rodrigo says. “We really wanted to show that I’m a versatile songwriter and a versatile artist. I can make heartbreak songs but I can also make cool alternative pop songs. I didn’t want to be pigeonholed into the ‘heartbreak ballad girl’ thing.”
From Rolling Stone US