Olivia Rodrigo’s “Driver’s License” has been no. 1 on Billboard’s Top 100 for two weeks now.
Remember the “blonde girl” she references? Yeah. That’s Sabrina Carpenter. And she took it to a whole new level with her new single, “Skin.”
Well-known for her role of Maya Hart on Disney’s Girl Meets World, the young actress took to focusing on her music career signed with Hollywood Records, debuting her EP Can’t Blame a Girl for Trying (2014) followed by her studio albums: Eyes Wide Open (2015), Evolution (2016), Singular: Act I (2018) and Singular: Act II (2019). Now signed with Island Records, Carpenter got to work right away with a surprise for the pop industry– perhaps a hit- and-run.
Released on Friday, Jan. 22 with over 800k streams, Carpenter brought in her perspective of the ordeal, addressing the drama surrounding the love triangle between herself and High School Musical The Musical: The Series (HSMTMTS) co-stars Rodrigo and Joshua Bassett.
The song took to social media immediately, becoming a part of the “Driver’s License” trend on TikTok, Instagram and Twitter to dissect these young performers’ love lives.
According to an article by Vulture, fans speculated that the on-screen, off-screen romance between Rodrigo and Bassett came to halt around Halloween, where Bassett and Carpenter made a flirty TikTok together, and had been spotted driving around his neighborhood just weeks later.
While Rodrigo’s “Driver’s License” confirmed the rumor of their breakup, Carpenter’s “Skin” reaffirmed these speculations– especially with her defensive tone throughout the song.
Fourth year pharmacy major Adele Sciarroni said “I’m so excited about the publicity the songs have gotten… the one bad part of the publicity is all the hate they are getting, especially Joshua [Bassett] and Sabrina [Carpenter].”
The parallelism between “Skin” and “Driver’s License” is quite obvious, as Carpenter addresses specific lines in Rodrigo’s single while also adding to the narrative. Lines such as “maybe we could’ve been friends/If I met you in another life,” “Maybe blonde was the only rhyme,” and, of course, the chorus: “You can try/To get under my, under my, under my skin/While he’s on mine,” all seem to be a call-and-response to Rodrigo’s breakup with Bassett.
However, according to Carpenter’s Instagram post @sabrinacarpenter, her new single “isn’t calling out one single person.”
“i wasn’t bothered by a few lines in a (magnificent) song and wrote a diss track about it,” Carpenter said. “people can only get to you if you give them the power to. and a lot of people were trying to get to me.”
Fans of Rodrigo were quick to come to her defense, with some TikTok users saying that 21-year-old Carpenter is “bullying” her, being that the young actress/singer-songwriter is only 17.
Sophomore political science and international relations major Riley Moore said that the drama following “Driver’s License,” was “completely unintentional,” though thinks that Carpenter’s new single “took things a little too far.”
“After listening to [‘Skin’] I felt that [Carpenter] went out of her way to lyrically attack Rodrigo,” Moore said. “While it definitely could be a publicity stunt, I feel like Olivia [Rodrigo] released her single with good intentions and the drama that followed was just circumstantial. I definitely think the way each artist approached the rumors surrounding them says a lot about who they are.”
Sciarroni disagreed, saying “I don’t think Sabrina deserves the backlash she has gotten because it doesn’t seem like she’s actually done anything wrong.”
“Olivia [Rodrigo] never blames her in ‘Driver’s License,’ she almost compliments her by saying ‘she’s everything [i’m] insecure about,” Sciarroni said. “I also think Sabrina’s statement made some very good points. She’s not playing dumb– she owned up to the fact that parts of the song are about ‘Driver’s License,’ but made it clear that the song in general is more about all the hate she’s been getting.”
The drama may be a long road ahead, but fans can look forward to more answers from these artists with Bassett’s upcoming EP release on March 12, where Carpenter will be featured.