Deja Vu

Album: Sour (2021)
Charted: 8

Songfacts®:

  • Olivia Rodrigo followed up her breakout hit "Drivers License" with another song about a past partner who has moved on to a new relationship. Though both tunes share similar imagery of the singer addressing her ex about his new girlfriend, this one finds Rodrigo reflective rather than heartbroken. Also, "Déjà Vu" is more upbeat instrumentally and has a dreamier feel.
  • The song starts off with Rodrigo listing some things her ex is doing with his new girlfriend, like driving to Malibu, sharing strawberry ice cream with one spoon, and watching reruns of Glee. In the pre-chorus she taunts him by making the point they used to do those very same things together. He is repeating the dating pattern that originated with their relationship.

    She thinks it's special, but it's all reused
    That was our place, I found it first
    I made the jokes, you tell to her when she's with you


    Rodrigo now sees her ex in his true colors as someone who isn't genuine, so she asks him the question, "Do you get deja vu when she's with you?"
  • Many fans interpreted "Drivers License" as being about Rodrigo's real-life breakup with her High School Musical: The Musical co-star and his subsequent romance with Sabrina Carpenter. During the second verse of "Déjà Vu," Rodrigo drops a hint that it may concern the same celebrity love triangle.

    Do you call her, almost say my name?
    'Cause let's be honest, we kinda do sound the same
    Another actress
    I hate to think that I was just your type


    Before her singing career took off, Rodrigo was best known as a Disney actress. Carpenter is also a Disney actress turned singer whose first Hot 100 hit, "Skin," was released a fortnight after "Drivers License."
  • So is the song another poke at Bassett and Carpenter, or a purely fictional reflection about watching an ex move on to a new relationship? According to Rodrigo, she was attracted by the theme of repeating the same experience with someone new. "The concept of deja vu has always fascinated me and I thought it would be cool to use it in a song around the complex feelings after a relationship ends," she said.
  • Rodrigo started writing and recording the song in September 2020 with her producer Dan Nigro (Conan Gray, Carly Rae Jepsen, Lewis Capaldi). She told Apple Music's Zane Lowe that she had the line "When she's with you, do you get déjà vu?" written in her phone. The pair were trying to write a different song, which wasn't working, so Nigro asked Rodrigo, "What else do you have?" When she told the producer about her "Déjà Vu" line, he really liked it.

    "And so we kind of wrote it together and kind of created this whole world," she continued. "I really love painting pictures with songs."
  • During an interview with Heat radio, Rodrigo explained she'd had the song picked out as a single since 2020, which helped ease the stress of following up a smash hit. "It sort of took the pressure off for me of following up 'Drivers License' since we planned this so far in advance. But it's definitely not like 'Drivers License' at all, which I'm really happy about. I didn't want to pigeonhole myself into this category of 'sad ballad girl' thing. It's definitely a little different, and sort of weird."
  • Deja Vu (from French "already seen") is the weird sensation that a new experience is something you have already lived through. Other artists that have recorded songs about the strange feeling include John Fogerty, Beyonce, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Dionne Warwick, Eminem, Twenty88, J. Cole , Post Malone and Glass Animals.
  • Allie Avital directed the song's music video, which co-stars Talia Ryder as Rodrigo's ex's new woman. The fact that Ryder is Rodrigo's doppelganger ties in with the track's theme of the singer's ex repeating his dating experiences.

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