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An Analysis of Olivia Rodrigo’s Music Video for Her Song “deja vu”

Recently Olivia Rodrigo released a follow-up song to her hit single “drivers license”. And as somebody who enjoyed that song, I was intrigued to see what her follow up song would be. And I just want to say that I was thoroughly impressed by “deja vu”. If you haven’t listened to it, and you’re into the general pop genre, you should definitely give it a go!

However, that’s not what I wanted to discuss. I wanted to do an analysis of the music video for her song, as I personally found the storytelling aspect of it incredibly well done.

To start off the video, the instrumental backdrop begins followed by the first verse, which starts off with the lines “Car rides to Malibu / Strawberry ice cream, one spoon for two”. In which the video shoots a close-up of Olivia driving a convertible along the coast of what we assume to be California and thus heading to Malibu. She can also be seen eating ice cream, again presumed to be strawberry, as the lyrics suggest. After the first half of the first verse finishes, however, you see the camera pan to the rearview mirror in which a ghostly figure flashes in it, thus setting the tone for the rest of the video.

Eventually, the car ends up stopping in front of a building in which Olivia gets out of the car to explore it, in which she finds what you assume to be the “new” girl. As the song explains via asking her ex “So when you gonna tell her that we did that, too? / 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”. The girl who is not quite an exact match for Olivia, but a brunette of similar build, steps forward in time to the music in a specific green dress. Olivia drives off and the scene cuts to her opening a dry cleaning bag in which the exact same dress is located. She puts it on and looks at herself in the mirror, almost surveying herself. An interesting contrast to the lyrics playing over the footage asking her ex if he gets deja vu. In the last couple seconds of the shot, the new girl, now wearing the same exact shot flickers in and out of the mirror like a Victorian ghost haunting a manor.

The second verse begins as Olivia walks into a different room, this one filled with stacked up TVs in which she’s able to watch footage of both her and the new girl in eerily similar settings. A tribute to the fact that her ex and what he does with his new girl would end up, as the song points out, like deja vu to him. At one point, Olivia presses reverse to watch something back again and while not necessarily something to do with the storytelling aspect of it, the fact that the instrumental background almost sounds like something being reversed pleases me.

She watches herself sing, only to become increasingly more concerned when she notices that the girl is in the background of the footage. From body language cues you can deduce the fact that the new girl should not be in the footage. And as such Olivia keeps pressing rewind and allowing the footage to play back, only to have the new girl become increasingly more prominent in said footage. At one point Olivia looks into the mirror and the new girl’s face stares back at her. 

Finally, as the bridge begins to play, taking parts from the first verse and remixing it- the new girl makes it known that she knows Olivia’s there. She waves back to Olivia through the screen and looks directly into the camera. A kind of nod to the fact that she might in fact know that it’s not all new to him but she’s not particularly fussed about it either.

So Olivia takes a sledgehammer to all the tvs, in what can be assumed as a fit of rage. When is taking a sledgehammer to something not, to be honest? Even as the bubblegum pop of her saying “I know you get deja vu” plays on repeat in the background. It almost sounds like a plea to be right and that she wants her relationship with her ex to still matter even though it’s through. 

And yet, as Olivia finishes her smashing of the tvs, leaving the one singular one that had focused on her the entire sequence we notice that it’s no longer Olivia as the main focus on that screen. Instead, the new girl, in the same attire from the beginning of the video, is driving the car and mouths the last line of the song to Olivia, which is fittingly, “I know you get deja vu”. 

The screen goes black and the same instrumental music from the beginning of the song plays as the new girl drives the same car with the same ice cream along the same road in California. As if to say, “it doesn’t matter if it’s deja vu to him, it’s new to me and that’s all that matters.” A fair point in its own right and a fun twist on having the protagonist be quote on quote “correct” or “in the right”. It can even be extended to the new girl saying, “what does it matter, you’re not with him- the relationship is none of your concern as you’re not part of it.” Which again, is valid.

Overall, I think the song is fun and catchy with the lyrics being a fun follow up to her drivers license song in which she discusses not getting over her ex. And that while the new song pokes fun at the new relationship between her ex and his new girlfriend, the video is rooted in the remembrance that it’s not really her place. And that if she allows herself to be consumed in thinking about them she’ll just cause more destruction, especially when the other parties aren’t concerned about her and how she feels about their relationship. Kudos to all involved in the making of both the song and the video, both are a delight.