Am I having déjà vu or did Olivia Rodrigo just drop another smash hit? The High School Musical: The Musical: The Series actress debuted her first single, “drivers license,” at the beginning of the year and it sky-rocketed to No. 1 on the charts. The song became Tiktok viral and even garnered a Saturday Night Live skit.
With one record-breaking song under her belt and a ton of pressure for another epic release, Rodrigo’s “deja vu” proves that she is not a one-hit wonder. The song expertly recounts the story of a lost love moving on and making similar memories with a new lover.
“I’m really obsessed with the concept of deja vu and I think it’s such a cool, psychedelic, awesome thing,” Rodrigo said in an interview with Rolling Stone. “Sometimes when you break up with someone and watch them live the life they lived [with you] with another partner, that can be really frustrating. I think that’s a universal, relatable thing that happens.”
Both “deja vu” and “drivers license” are speculated to be about a failed romance with Rodrigo’s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series screen partner, Joshua Bassett. With her songwriting, Rodrigo takes vivid pictures of their happy moments like “car rides to Malibu / Strawberry ice cream, one spoon for two” only to turn them into revelations about his new relationship: “so when you gonna tell her that we did that, too? / She thinks it’s special, but it’s all reused.”
Rodrigo interlaces these memories with a melody that sounds like a psychedelic spin on a tune that you would hear on a Merry-Go-Round. She labels her ex-lover as unoriginal and claims he’s only unique because of the things she taught him: “I made the jokes you tell to her when she’s with you” and “play her piano, but she doesn’t know / that I was the one who taught you Billy Joel.”
In every single way, “deja vu” is the perfect follow-up to her first hit. It showcases a mastery of the Swiftian bridge, an understanding of grandiose production, and powerful and catchy storytelling: “Strawberry ice cream in Malibu / Don’t act like we didn’t do that shit, too!”