“1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back” by Olivia Rodrigo

Sometimes it feels funny – for lack of a better word – analyzing songs by these young female artists such as Olivia Rodrigo or say Billie Eilish that center on them going through the romantic motions like seasoned adults. 

But apparently that is the world we live in, considering that this particular tune was written pretty much exclusively by Olivia Rodrigo. Indeed the adage that serves as its title are the types of jewels you’d probably hear a more middle age-ish person drop. But the songstress already appears to have knowledge of what reads like a counterproductive romantic relationship.

Lyrics of “1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back”

So once again, we have a song where the addressee is the lover of the singer. And what the latter is dealing with is a partner who possesses sort of like a split personality. Yes, many a dude may be like these days; some of us are even guilty of such crimes of the heart. 

And what the vocalist is saying in the first verse is that this case is so severe that she never knows which of those characters is going to come forth or any given day. Or more simply put, she is the victim of emotional abuse. It’s such that when she makes the addressee angry, he tends to spaz out. 

Yet at the same time, it’s like she’s not doing anything intentionally to make him mad. So, he has his own issues. But in terms of her personally, such toxic treatment is resulting in confusion and a minimized self-esteem. Or put differently yet again, as far as the thesis metaphor goes she does not perceive this relationship as actually progressing.

But that being said, judging by the second verse the narrator has apparently grown accustomed to such treatment. In fact it has now reached a point where the addressee’s sporadic spazzings are a turn on for her. 

So perhaps underneath it all, the one thing that can be definitively ascertained is that she is in love. But either way, it would appear that for the most part she wants her partner to stop behaving so. For as noted earlier, this behavior is rather causing the vocalist to think that there is something wrong with herself, at least in the eyes of the man she loves.

Lyrics for "1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back"

Writing Credits for “1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back”

Both Taylor Swift and one of her regular songwriting partners, Jack Antonoff, are credited as authors of this track alongside Olivia Rodrigo. 

Foreknowledge of this fact caused some fans to speculate that “1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back” might be an actual collaboration between the two songstresses. This theory was exacerbated by the fact that Olivia is on record as having listed Taylor as one of her role models, in addition to the two of them having built up a personal relationship as of late. 

But what has actually come to pass is that this song ‘slightly interpolates’ a 2017 Taylor Swift track entitled “New Year’s Day”. And yes, the writers/producers of said outing are Tay Tay alongside Jack Antonoff.


Meanwhile Olive co-produced “1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back” in conjunction with Dan Nigro. Nigro is the primary producer behind the album this song is featured on, Rodrigo’s debut full-length, which is entitled “Sour”. In fact the release date of this song is the same as said album’s, 21 May 2021, having been done so by Interscope Records and Geffen Records.

1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back

Olivia Rodrigo

Every year we have these musicians who, figuratively speaking in some cases, seem to blow up out of nowhere. In 2020, that would have been BTS and the year before that Lil Nas X. 

And as far as 2021 has gone thus far, this year belongs to Olivia Rodrigo in that regard. That is to say that her debut single, “Drivers License” (which was also produced by Dan Nigro), has been one of the biggest hits of the year. However to note, she has dropped a couple of other singles since then, respectively being “Deja Vu” and “Good 4 U“. 

And whereas the first of those was a notable hit by pretty much any artist’s standards, neither one of them were nearly as successful as “Drivers License”.

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