“Deja Vu” is right.
In Olivia Rodrigo’s killer new single, “Deja Vu” — it’s the much anticipated follow-up to her smash debut, “Drivers License,” which spent eight weeks at No. 1 — the 18-year-old pop singer skewers an ex for using his old moves on a new girlfriend.
“So when you gonna tell her that we did that too?” she asks the guy as layered synth lines twinkle around her, “She thinks it’s special, but it’s all reused.”
The same could be said of the clever songwriting and production tricks Rodrigo repeats in “Deja Vu” — the way she makes a musical phrase of someone’s laughter (as she did with the chime of a car alarm in “Drivers License”), for instance, or her deployment of an unexpected swear word in the song’s bridge (à la the crucial F-bomb she dropped last time).
You can’t blame her for doubling down. A perfect specimen of teen melodrama, “Drivers License” was an honest-to-goodness phenomenon that set records at Billboard and Spotify and inspired a widely seen sketch on “Saturday Night Live.” Nearly three months after it came out, the power ballad — which hasn’t dropped below No. 5 on the Hot 100 — is still racking up more than 1 million streams a day.
But also: These are great tricks! Rodrigo would be foolish not to use them again — hardly a mistake you’re likely to see from an actor who got her start on a Disney show called “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.”
And anyway, “Deja Vu” — the second single, Rodrigo announced Thursday morning, from her debut album due May 21 — has plenty of its own beautifully rendered detail.
Co-written and produced by Dan Nigro, who also did “Drivers License,” the new single paints a vivid scene right from the get-go: “Car ride to Malibu / Strawberry ice cream, one spoon for two,” Rodrigo sings wistfully, “And trading jackets / Laughing ’bout how small it looks on you.”
She goes on to rhyme “Watching reruns of ‘Glee’” with “Being annoying, singing in harmony” — real theater-kid dream-weaving here — before making clear that these treasured memories are just part of a well-established pattern for her ex.
Later, after a surprisingly rowdy beat has kicked in, Rodrigo reveals the true outrage:
I bet that she knows Billy Joel
’Cause you played her “Uptown Girl”
You’re singing it together
I bet you even tell her
How you love her
In between the chorus and the verse