This article is part of What Do You Mean?, a series where we dive into the analysis and associations of the important songs of today.
Having dropped one of 2021’s most successful singles, the inescapable ‘Drivers License’, Olivia Rodrigo returns today (April 1st) for a second ride with ‘Deja Vu’.
The song, which she teased as being different both musically and melodically from ‘Drivers License’, was similarly produced by Dan Nigro (Conan Gray, Caroline Polachek). Starting off as a ballad, the song quickly welcomes some clashing drums by the midway mark. And amidst the dizzying instrumental, ‘Deja Vu’ also comes with multiple easter eggs and references, like…
“Watching reruns of Glee / Being annoying, singing in harmony,” Rodrigo reminisces in the lyrics of ‘Deja Vu’s first verse’. And haven’t we all been there? While the last episode of the show aired back in 2015, Rachel Berry and gang are clearly still relevant today. A little note: Rodrigo harmonises with herself when she sings the line “singing in harmony”. 👀
Billy Joel and Uptown Girl
Uptown Girl might be better known today by Westlife’s iteration of the song, but it was in fact a doo-wop song originally by singer-songwriter Billy Joel. It details a middle class man attempting to woo an “uptown”, more well-to-do girl—we see what you’re hinting at here, Olivia.
A little easter egg: in the next line, Rodrigo sings “Now I bet you even tell her how you love her / In between the chorus and the verse”. Interestingly on ‘Uptown Girl’, the line “I’m in love with an [uptown girl]” is sandwiched between—you guessed it—the chorus and the verse.
True to the song’s name, the ‘Glee’, ‘Uptown Girl’ and ‘Strawberry ice cream’ references are all repeated in the bridge. Sonically, you’d be excused for feeling a little deja vu here; there are traces of that anthemic bridge we first got a glimpse of in ‘Drivers License’.
But beyond that, it’s revealed that the new lover in question has a name similar to Rodrigo’s and is an actress just like her. Even in the song’s visuals, a doppelgänger of Rodrigo’s (played by Talia Ryder) is featured. Talk about milking a reference.
Rodrigo revealed that the meaning behind ‘Deja Vu’ came from her personal experiences with deja vu, and that she thought it would be interesting to use it as a concept to describe the feeling of seeing a former lover move on.
Aside from dropping ‘Deja Vu’, Rodrigo also announced that her debut studio album, *O*R, would be arriving on May 1st. And with a song as strong as this one, those quick to label her as a one-hit wonder can now put their cynicism to rest.
Watch the music video for ‘Deja Vu’ below:
For more juicy tunes, check out our New Music Friday playlist here!