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Joshua Bassett’s New Song Def Sounds Like It’s About Olivia Rodrigo

”Four years gone by...”

Joshua Bassett’s longing for a lost love...and she sounds very familiar. It’s an emotion he leans into often, such as on 2022’s “Doppelgänger,” a somber ballad about seeing his former partner’s lookalike in public. While he kept details about his ex subtle, fans still believed the track was about his sour split with Olivia Rodrigo. Now, two years later, that unconfirmed speculation is still following him on his new single, “The Golden Years.” Let’s discuss those details.

“The Golden Years,” the first single from his upcoming debut album, sees Bassett wistfully reminiscing about an old relationship that was “fun until it hurt.” In the first verse, he traced their love back to “four years ago,” which feels very specific to his alleged romance with Rodrigo. The two singers were first linked together in November 2019 — ahem, four years ago — when they starred in Disney’s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. (Not to mention, he also promoted the track with a carousel of photos from the series on TikTok.)

Now, there’s a chance Bassett might be reflecting on another relationship before Rodrigo — especially since the aftermath of their breakup took a toll on his mental and physical health. However, it’s hard to deny the other Rodrigo-coded references in the track.

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In one standout line, Bassett sings about “how I’m missin’ those brown eyes,” referencing Rodrigo’s eye color. Then in the second verse, he coos about the last time he saw his ex in person. “I left you under the cherry tree that June / Back at the place where I told you that I loved you way too soon.”

The June line feels like a nod to their breakup timeline, which has always been a bit murky. In July 2020, Bassett was rumored to have left Rodrigo for Sabrina Carpenter. Also, Rodrigo posted a cryptic TikTok about “failed relationships” around the time of their alleged split.

Eventually, this love triangle spurred a trifecta of disses that following year. In January 2021, Rodrigo released the infamous “Drivers License” — a track she never fully denied was about the rumored breakup — and Bassett seemingly responded with “Lie Lie Lie.” A month later, Carpenter entered the chat with a few notable lyrics on “Skin.” Yeah, it was... a lot.

That drama hit a new level that June, when Bassett told GQ that he suffered heart failure and went into septic shock shortly after the release of “Lie Lie Lie.” At the time, he attributed his condition to “stress,” which shined a light on how massive the hate train was for all three of them. But on “The Golden Years,” he doesn’t reflect on these darker moments; he instead revels in what could’ve been.

Bassett continues to wrestle with those doleful emotions until the outro. With “The Golden Years” serving as the first taste of his debut album, there’s a chance he might be reflecting on a certain ex much longer than he thought.