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Olivia Rodrigo’s “traitor” Music Video: Let’s Break It Down

Ah, I am once again back to writing about Olivia Rodrigo. In the past, my articles have been solely about her, but a moral conflict within my head arose when I sat down to write this “Traitor” music video article. I have left out the drama (or shall I say rumored drama) from previous Olivia Rodrigo articles, and while I intended to mainly do the same in this one, I can’t truthfully write about the video without addressing the possible Easter eggs or references that might relate to a rumored ex-boyfriend. 

In true Olivia fashion, she released a surprise music video for her latest single “traitor” from her album Sour last week. With “good 4 u,” “drivers license,”  “deja vu,”  and “brutal,” setting the tone and bar high for Rodrigo’s visions with visuals, “traitor” steps into similar shoes with a powerful, message-filled video. 

The video begins with Rodrigo dancing with projected clouds silhouetted over her before it switches to a swimming pool, and then Rodrigo starts singing while sitting in the back of a truck. It only takes 57 seconds for a key plot point to arrive, when Rodrigo enters an arcade which becomes a central location of the video. Loyal High School Musical the Musical the Series fans immediately connected when Rodrigo picked up the Guitar Hero game and looked at it with a melancholy face. Furthermore, it was revealed by Joshua Bassett that the clip from the show was actually Bassett and Rodrigo playing in real life, which adds just more pain for believers who felt it was an intentional move to highlight the game by Rodrigo in the music video. 

Fans didn’t stop noticing references from there, however. In Bassett’s music video for his song “Anyone Else,” the 47 second mark shows him jumping on his bed blissfully, similar to the opening of “traitor” where Rodrigo is jumping with similar body language. 

After Rodrigo moves from the arcade to the swimming pool, the comparisons to “Anyone Else,” continue. The three minute mark of “traitor” shows Rodrigo staring into the camera coming up from underwater as she sings, “You betrayed me.” At the one minute and 25 second mark of “Anyone Else,” Bassett is pet on the head by rumored blonde girlfriend’s hand as he smiles. If intentional, Rodrigo could not only be referencing the swimming pool concept in general, but also proving with her face and song that she is now alone while he has his new girlfriend with him. 

So yes, I caved. I wrote way too much about the similarities that play into the rumored drama. However, it’s hard to ignore that central part considering Rodrigo is known for her hidden messages and surprises in music video concepts. The video ends with a video effect of Rodrigo in space, almost with a door. She walks in the door and closes it behind her. 

Is Rodrigo closing the door on her Sour era? “traitor” is the fifth music video from her debut album Sour, so it would not be shocking if “traitor” closed a chapter on visual content from that album. However, there could be other meanings. Is she closing the door on a relationship? Is it simply a personal revolution or sense of growth in regards to what the song is about?  Either way, Rodrigo hints at the ending of something and a new beginning, so we just have to wait to find out. 

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Lulu Kesin

U Mass Amherst '23

Lulu is a sophomore double major in journalism and communications. Some of Lulu's passions include wearing patterned pants, dancing in the grocery store, watching coming of age movies and advocating for female equality in the sports industry.
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