“Deja Vu” by Olivia Rodrigo
As a musician, Olivia Rodrigo dreads the prospect of being ‘pigeonholed’. In other words, she doesn’t want to be perceived as a one-dimensional artist, i.e. the type that, say, harps on the same subject over and over.
But when you’re known primarily as an actress, venture into the field of music and your first track is a smash hit – which is what Rodrigo experienced with “Drivers License” (2021) – then yes, the potential of being pressured to replicate or extend your debut success does exist.
Also keep in mind that the viral popularity of the aforementioned “Drivers License” was largely due to the fact that many people were of the impression that it is based on a real-life celebrity love triangle which the singer is involved in.
Or put differently, other celebrities besides Olivia Rodrigo were indirectly responsible for its virality. So with all of that being taken into consideration, it is no surprise that “Deja Vu”, her second single, comes off like a Drivers License part two. And this is even though Rodrigo and co. apparently did not intend it as such.
Lyrics of “Deja Vu”
And why is this the case? This is because just as with “Drivers License”, on this track the singer is addressing an ex-boyfriend. Also akin to “Drivers License”, her ex’s new girlfriend is the third character in the song. And perhaps most-tellingly in the lyrics of “Deja Vu” is the fact that the singer identifies this other lady as being “another actress”.
Well Sabrina Carpenter, whom many consider to be Olivia’s romantic rival in “Drivers License” is in fact, like Rodrigo, a professional actress.
But there are some differences between the two singles also. The first track was more of a heartbreak song. However, this time around, the vocalist is flipping that emotion onto her ex. Or put more precisely, she is rather implying that he misses her.
That is partially what the title of this song alludes to, that the same things he is going through with his new partner he went through with Olivia first.
The new girl also apparently shares physical characteristics with Rodrigo, a concept upon which the music video is based. Thus when he’s with her, he gets “déjà vu”. And this “déjà vu” is basically flashbacks of time he spent with Olivia. On top of that, he even tries to impress her with things Rodrigo taught him, such as playing Billy Joel on the piano.
So it’s like he never got over her in the first place. Moreover, Rodrigo is putting forth this sort of ‘I hit it first’ type of sentiment. She is basically bragging that she, not the new girl, was the addressee’s first love. And furthermore, more or less taught him how to be romantic.
A womanizing Addressee
Indeed the term “déjà vu”, as also used in the lyrics, connotes that the addressee is basically a playa. He is emulating the same type of dating, venues and all, he experienced with Rodrigo with the new girl also.
So in that regard Olivia seems to be mocking his current lover. And what she is fundamentally saying is that he is treating her as if she is special, even though she’s not.
And why? Because he behaved the exact same way when they were together. And along those same lines his new girlfriend may perceive him as being “unique”, but he isn’t. And this is because his mannerisms are more like his established seduction techniques, if you will.
So conclusively, Olivia is not in her feelings this time around. Before, as far as her boyfriend leaving her for another woman, she was emotionally devastated. But now things are different. It’s more like she’s feeling sorry for the new girl.
She has come to realize that her ex isn’t the genuine type anyway. She therefore sees no reason why she should mourn the demise of their relationship.
Also it can be said that she perceives her ex as sort of a chump, someone who is using things she taught him to rather impress another lady, who is gullible to the fact that he isn’t original.
So although it is never stated forthrightly, this is someone whom the singer is now perhaps a little relieved is no longer part of her life, as her perception of him from days past has obviously changed for the worse.
Facts about “Deja Vu”
Interscope Records and Geffen Records officially released this track on 8 January 2021. Around the same time Olivia Rodrigo announced that she will be dropping an album, entitled O*R*, which this song is featured on.
And apparently it is the second single from said project, with the aforementioned “Drivers License” being the first.
Olivia Rodrigo began teasing this track in late March, 2021.
The music video to this song was filmed in California and directed by a New York filmographer named Allie Avital. And it features a fellow teen actress, besides Olivia Rodrigo, by the name of Talia Ryder.
As of the release of “Deja Vu”, Olivia Rodrigo has been 18 years old for less than 2 months.
“Deja Vu” was produced and co-written by Dan Nigro, who Olivia Rodrigo called a “friend” of hers. And she also co-wrote the song herself.
Is “Deja Vu” Rodrigo’s first time working professionally with Nigro?
No. Both artists have worked together before in the past. For example, composition-wise Nigro and Rodrigo served the exact same roles in the creation of “Drivers License”.
The aforementioned song went on to become a monumental hit. It was a kind of hit that most artists can only dream of ever achieving, especially as far as their first true single goes.
For instance, it debuted at number 1 in both America and UK. It has also been certified platinum or better in almost 10 countries.
And up until that point, where Olivia Rodrigo had established herself as a Disney actress – a profession which often requires singing (as it did in her case) – she was virtually unknown in the music industry itself.
But technically she did drop a few songs prior, as part of the cast of the Disney’s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. And one of them, 2019’s “All I Want“, proved to be a notable hit.
A love triangle
As noted earlier, the virality of “Drivers License” was buttressed by the fact that many believe it is based on a rumored real-life love triangle. And said triangle involved the following”
- Rodrigo herself
- Actor/singer Joshua Bassett (whom she co-starred on High School Musical with)
- Singer/actress Sabrina Carpenter