Meaning of “Vampire” by Olivia Rodrigo
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Olivia Rodrigo, the singer/actress who proved to be the music industry’s biggest breakout success story of 2021. Indeed, Rodrigo has been ridiculously-successful up until this point, as her debut album, “Sour”, as well as all five singles which sprang from it, including of course “Drivers License“, have gone multi-platinum.
And it really isn’t common for a project to perform that well, especially one by a musician who was virtually unheard of (industry-wise) when it came out.
As for 2022, Olivia only dropped a promotional single, “You Never Know”, which is associated with High School Musical, i.e. the television series she has starred on since 2019. As such “Vampire”, which was released on 23 June 2023, marks her first standard single in almost two years.
THE TEAM BEHIND “VAMPIRE”
The label behind this track is Geffen Records, who had the foresight to sign Rodrigo back in 2020, before she blew up. And it is serving as the lead single from her sophomore LP, which is simply titled “Guts”. To note, this track is reportedly one which the songstress has been ruminating on for a while before finally deciding to compose it. And she began teasing it at the beginning of the month in which it was released.
Part and parcel of Rodrigo’s industry success, beginning with the dropping of debut single “Drivers License” in early 2021, has been the behind-the-scenes’ contributions of Dan Nigro.
Nigro is a musician from the colorful Long Island neighborhood of Massapequa Park who earlier on was part of a rock group called As Tall as Lions. Since then he has experienced much more notable success as a producer and songwriter and more specifically as a regular collaborator of Olivia Rodrigo and, to a lesser extent, Conan Gray.
And by the looks of things he’s serving those same roles in “Guts” and as such is the producer and co-writer of “Vampire”, with its other author being Olivia herself.
Furthermore, the director of the track’s music video is Petra Collins, who also has a prior history alongside Rodrigo, as she directed the clips to a couple of Olivia’s previous singles, which are 2021’s “Good 4 U” and “Brutal“.
THE LYRICS OF “VAMPIRE”
As documented by Rolling Stone, Olivia Rodrigo is someone with a known history of being fascinated by vampire mythos. So on this song she actually utilizes a Nosferatu-related lyrical motif, though not overly so. The only overt vampire references are found in the chorus. And as for the track as a whole, it is based on the musical standard which has made Olivia famous, which is basically lambasting one of her former lovers.
Indeed, the wording of this outing is arguably more precise and scathing than what we were met with on “Drivers License”. The addressee, once again, would be someone whom the vocalist was smitten by but since has to disappoint her. And from the onset, said individual person is depicted as someone who unscrupulously uses people in the name of propagating his own come-up.
Yet others in his orbit would not be aware of that fact as Olivia is, presumably because, as his lover, she has gotten to know him in the most personal of ways.
So by the looks of things, what’s being further implied is that the addressee used her fame to build up his own brand. Or put otherwise, the vocalist was “truly” in love, but the other party dated Rodrigo more for her standing than having genuine affection for or interest in her.
THE CHORUS OF “VAMPIRE”
That theory is driven home in the chorus, whereas the addressee is depicted as a “bloodsucker” and “fame f–ker”. And what it appears Olivia is also getting at is she being too naïve and inexperienced in the game to have expeditiously realized that dude was using her.
And to reiterate, the lyrics aren’t really that specific. But going back to that term “fame f–ker”, it doesn’t read as if the vocalist is complaining about being sexually exploited. Instead she has concluded, after “six months of torture”, that this man she actually loved didn’t feel the same but rather had an ulterior motive, which once again reads as if he was using the songstress to become (more) famous himself.
ADAM OR ZACK?
Indeed out of all the guys the young Olivia has dated thus far, as it currently stands none of them are even really remotely on her same level of fame. But in the second verse, she does imply that the particular romantic interest whom she’s singing to is one of a noticeable age difference.
So the prevailing theory is that this song is either based on her past romance with a producer named Adam Faze or a fellow musician known as Zack Bia.
Olivia dated Faze, who is six years her senior, in 2021. The following year she hooked up with Zack Bia, who is seven years older. In both cases, the relationship only lasted six months.
And as you can see, neither one of them are even nearly as popular as Rodrigo is, at least not as far as the mainstream media is concerned. In fact, it can be gleaned that she is doing their popularity a favor just by dropping this song.
So the vocalist proceeds to lament being misled by the addressee into believing he was a good guy, even though ‘every girl she ever talked to’ warned her otherwise.
So it’s like Olivia dumbed out in a way. But she isn’t making excuses per se. Instead the second verse once again alludes to the idea that, in this case, she was simply outmatched. That is to say that up until that point presumably, she had never dealt with a boyfriend who was such a talented liar.
And again, Rodrigo implies that such a discrepancy in intelligence, if you will, is due to the age difference between herself and the other party. Yes, it can be argued that in the grand scheme of things, dating someone six or seven years older than you is not that big of a deal.
But keep in mind that Olivia just turned 20 a few months before this song was dropped, so she’s pretty young to begin with.
But again, she is not putting all of the blame on the other party per se. For instance in the chorus, Rodrigo admits that she “tried to help (him) out”. Such a statement would imply that she knew from earlier on that everything wasn’t gravy.
But, to make a long-winded sentiment short, once she truly came to realize that the other party was involved in this relationship solely, if you will, for media purposes, that was simply a vibe that Rodrigo couldn’t f*-k with.
Or let’s say that Olivia has yet, if ever, to reach the point where she’s dating someone solely in the name of furthering her career/popularity. And if she did decide to do so, it likely wouldn’t be the likes of Adam Faze or Zack Bia. That’s to say that when celebrities take such a route, they tend to choose someone equal or higher on the list than they are, which is basically what the addressee is being accused of.
“‘I’ve made some real big mistakes
But you make the worst one look fine
I should’ve known it was strange
You only come out at night
I used to think I was smart
But you made me look so naïve
The way you sold me for parts
As you sunk your teeth into me, oh
Bloodsucker, fame f—ker
Bleedin’ me dry like a go–amn vampire”
We can only hope that the young Olivia Rodrigo gets her love life in order sooner rather than later. But at least in the meantime she has proven to possess the Taylor Swift-like ability to turn heartbreak into a hit song.