Eagle-eyed fans spotted Swift, 31, and her frequent collaborator Jack Antonoff’s names under the writing credits for Rodrigo’s fourth track, “1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back,” off her Sour record, which dropped on Friday, May 21.
The two numbers in the song make a “13,” which is a subtle nod to Swift, whose lucky number is 13 — which she often sings or speaks about in her life. Additionally, all the numbers of Sour’s release date (0 + 5 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 0 + 2 + 1) equal the Grammy winner’s favorite numeral.
Despite being listed on the track, the “Into the Woods” singer and Antonoff, 37, did not collaborate with the High School Musical: The Musical: The Series actress, 18. Instead, the song is an interpolation of Swift’s hit “New Year’s Day” off of her 2017 Reputation album, the Rolling Stone confirmed one day prior.
In January, the Bizaardvark alum she released her debut single, “Drivers License,” which many fans think was inspired by her rumored relationship and breakup from Disney+ costar Joshua Bassett.
Listeners believed Rodrigo was throwing shade at Bassett, 20, and his new girlfriend, Sabrina Carpenter, who he’s been linked to since July 2020, based on numerous lyrics in the song. The Girl Meets World alum, 22, and Bassett have since released their own music — some of which fans think is a response to Rodrigo’s hit.
The Disney Channel star addressed the controversy the same month, telling Billboard, “I totally understand people’s curiosity with the specifics of who the song’s about and what it’s about, but to me, that’s really the least important part of the song. It’s resonating with people because of how emotional it is, and I think everything else is not important.”
Amid all the controversy, Rodrigo received praise for the track from celebrities, including Swift, whom she has called one of her “biggest inspirations.” After the actress expressed excitement over the fact that the song was next to Swift on the U.S. songs chart on iTunes, the “Exile” singer replied back via Instagram, writing, “I say that’s my baby and I’m really proud.”
Swift later sent the “Good 4 U” singer a handwritten note and a ring.
“She’s absolutely the kindest individual in the whole world,” Rodrigo said during a March appearance on SiriusXM’s The Morning Mash Up. “I feel so lucky that I just was born at the right time to be able to look up to somebody like her. I think she’s incredible. All of her support and like genuine, like compassion and excitement for me is just been so, so surreal.”
“I got a list of names and yours is in … glittery gel pen with hearts drawn around it 😇,” Swift captioned a series of photos from the night — including one of her meeting with Rodrigo — paraphrasing a line from her song, “Look What You Made Me Do.”
Four days later, Rodrigo made her Saturday Night Live debut with two showstopping performances.
“Well that was the most nerve wracking/emotional/happy experience of my life,” she wrote via her Instagram Story after taking the stage. “Thank u 4ever @nbcsnl.”