Olivia Rodrigo Sinks Her Teeth Into Her Ex On “Vampire”
“I should’ve known it was strange / You only come out at night.”
Lyrically, Olivia Rodrigo has multiple identities. There’s the melancholic side of her that relies on slow, piano-driven chords to narrate her heartbreak. Meanwhile, she also has an angsty side that takes aim at those who disrespected her. She’s emotionally fed up and exhausted, and that fire unfurls into punchy, high-energy verses that feel therapeutic to scream along to. The singer fused both these versions on her comeback single, “Vampire.”
“Vampire” is an impressive reminder that Rodrigo deserves her seat at the pop table. The track, which was released on June 30, is the first taste of her upcoming album Guts. She first teased the single on June 13, where she shared a lilac-hued cover of her with band-aids (from a seeming vampire bite) on her neck. The inclusion of purple, which she largely used in her Sour era, made fans believe this single would be a continuation of the 2020 album. That speculation only heightened once it was revealed she co-wrote the track with producer Daniel Nigro, whom she worked with on Sour.
While she does adopt similar sonic traits from her debut album on “Vampire,” the energy behind this release feels different. The production sounds rich and operatic.
In an interview with Billboard, Rodrigo revealed the song’s theatrical sound was intentional. “We always said that [“Vampire”] was kind of our version of a rock opera,” she said. “I think as the album was coming together, we were coming up with a bunch of songs that we really liked, but this one always stuck out to me as something that I felt like was honoring my singer-songwriter roots, but felt like an evolution — in a good way that wasn’t too stark.”
Production-wise, it seemed Rodrigo studied the sonic highs in “drivers license” and a slight touch of “Brutal” to make this release come alive. On “Vampire,” she uses gothic-style piano riffs and punk-ish harmonies to call out an exploitative ex. She’s come to realize that he was a “fame f*cker” who used her for his benefit, and his self-serving attitude left her feeling drained — like a vampire bite. Her jabs at her ex-partner are angry, a tad whimsical, and so good.
While she’s reading her ex for filth on the track, the music video tells a different story. There, she uses the context of public fame to show that even at her worst, people will still feed on her for pure entertainment. The Petras Collins-directed video begins with Rodrigo performing in a cloudy forest, which has a similar essence to Twilight. As she sings the final lyric of the chorus, she’s injured by a falling stage light and stands covered in blood.
“You said it was true love / But wouldn’t that be hard? / You can’t love anyone / ‘Cause that would mean you had a heart,” Rodrigo wails as she continues to perform. Security then tries to escort her off the stage, and she runs out of the venue before they could do so. She continues sprinting until she’s near the freeway and suddenly levitates into the sky, almost signifying she’s being freed from the ‘blood-sucking vampires’ who only valued her for her talent.
Check out the music video for “Vampire” below.