After Olivia Rodrigo released "Drivers License
" on January 8, 2021, many on social media decided the lovelorn lyrics are about Sabrina Carpenter's relationship with Rodrigo's former boyfriend, Joshua Bassett. "Skin," released two weeks later, is Carpenter's response to Rodrigo's worldwide hit.
The chorus finds Carpenter addressing a love rival; it could be anyone.
You can try
To get under my, under my, under my skin
While he's on mine
Yeah, all on my, all on my, all on my skin
But elsewhere on "Skin," Carpenter seems to confirm that she is the third part of the love triangle along with Olivia Rodrigo and Joshua Bassett. For instance, at the end of the first verse, Sabrina gives us a big clue as to the identity of her love rival.
Maybe you didn't mean it
Maybe blonde was the only rhyme
The lines appear to be referencing Rodrigo's lyrics in "Driver's License" about a "blonde girl," which fans assumed to be Carpenter.
So what is the message Carpenter is sending to Rodrigo in the song? She is angry because Rodrigo's fans were quick to attack her; they only had heard the High School Musical actress' side of the story.
You're tellin' it how you see it
Like truth is whatever you decide
Now she's making public her version of the events.
But you been tellin' your side
So I'll be telling mine, mine
The Girl Meets World star would like to make up with Rodrigo sometime in the future.
I just hope that one day
We both can laugh about it
When it's not in our face
Sabrina even plays on the title of Olivia's hit song to make her point.
Don't drive yourself insane
It won't always be this way
Carpenter first started posting covers on her YouTube channel when she was 10. Her music career took off in 2014 when she signed to Hollywood Records. She released four studio albums with them before departing the label and signing with Island Records. This provocative song is her first single with Hollywood.
Sabrina Carpenter wrote the song with Tia Scola (Astrid S & Brett Young's "I Do
") and the track's producer, Ryan McMahon, who is a member of the Los Angeles-based production trio Captain Cuts.
Sabrina Carpenter explained in a January 24, 2021 Instagram post that didn't intend "Skin" to be a direct retaliation to "Drivers License."
"I wasn't bothered by a few lines in a (magnificent) song and wrote a diss track about it," she wrote. "I was at a tipping point in my life for countless reasons. So I was inspired to do what I usually do to cope, write something that I wish I could have told myself in the past."
The singer and actress went on to deny "Skin" is specifically aimed at Olivia Rodrigo. "The song isn't calling out one single person. Some lines address a specific situation, while other lines address plenty of other experiences I've had this past year," Sabrina continued. "It also shows that many things have actually gotten under my skin… and I'm still learning to not give other people so much power over my feelings. I know a lot of you struggle with the same thing."
Sabrina explained to RADIO.COM's Julia that that song's core message is don't let people get under your skin, "or knowing that they will either way." She added: "At the end of the day, you have you, and you have to protect yourself and your own happiness and peace."
Sabrina Carpenter cast Gavin Leatherwood from Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Sabrina Spellman, not Sabrina Carpenter!) as her love interest in the Jason Lester-directed video. In the clip, the couple's blissful relationship is disrupted by an earthquake, snowstorm, torrential rain showers and fires that represent people trying to disturb their happiness. Through it all, the two lovers remain unshaken.
Though Carpenter assured her fans on Instagram the song "isn't calling out one single person," the visual seemingly contains several references to her love triangle with Olivia Rodrigo and Joshua Bassett. Not only is Gavin Leatherwood a Bassett look-alike, but the video also features a literal car the songstress sits on as the rain pours over her.