Joshua Bassett appears to be giving us his side of what went down between him and Olivia Rodrigo almost a year after their messy “Drivers License” drama.
For those who missed it, the early months of 2021 saw an apparent love triangle unfold between Joshua, Olivia, and Sabrina Carpenter.
Joshua and Olivia — who costarred as onscreen lovers in Disney’s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series and were rumored to be dating — sparked speculation of a split last August, when Olivia posted a picture wearing a “dump him” T-shirt around the same time that Joshua was spotted on what looked like a lunch date with fellow actor, Sabrina.
Months after the rumored split, Olivia attracted huge attention in January with the release of her debut single, “Drivers License,” which fans guessed was about her past relationship with Joshua and the messy love triangle.
Notably, Olivia appeared to reference Sabrina with the lyrics: “And you're probably with that blonde girl / Who always made me doubt / She's so much older than me / She's everything I'm insecure about.”
And things got even messier when Olivia dropped her debut album SOUR, which included her hit songs “deja vu,” “good 4 u” and “traitor,” in May. Again, fans speculated that the songs — which largely referred to a messy breakup with an ex-lover who “found a new girl” — were about Joshua.
Olivia’s songs have gained huge success. Just last week, the 18-year-old bagged seven Grammy nominations, including mentions in all of the big four categories: Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist.
With all that in mind, Joshua now appears to be shedding some light on his side of the story.
On Dec. 3, the 20-year-old released an EP titled after its three songs: Crisis / Secret / Set Me Free.
Ahead of the release of his EP, Joshua sent a text message to fans urging them not to “send hate” on his behalf, prompting widespread speculation that the lyrics would point toward Olivia in light of their past drama.
Joshua Bassett urges fans to "treat everyone with respect and love" and not send hate on his behalf after release of his new songs. He also revealed 100% of his earnings from “Crisis” will go toward mental health organizations.
Well, after listening to the new songs, it’s safe to say that — though nothing is confirmed — the lyrics certainly appear to nod toward the SOUR singer. Each of the three tracks chart the end of a relationship and feelings of emotional heartbreak, complete with several apparent references to Olivia.
In his first song, “Crisis,” Joshua sings about feelings of “hurt” following several unspecified events, which is perhaps in reference to the tons of online hate he endured following the release of Olivia’s songs rumored to be about him.
Some of the most raw lyrics come around in the chorus, where Joshua calls out the song’s subject for all that they put him through. He sings, “But don't you dare act like I didn't love you / Don't go thinkin' that I didn't hurt too / Don't you ever wonder if I'm okay after all you put me through?”
He goes on to hint that the subject of the song has been dishonest, noting that “half the shit [they’re] sayin' is only half true.” Joshua is perhaps refuting some of Olivia’s lyrics, with his latest songs allowing him to tell his own side in detail.
He then appears to accuse Olivia of sensationalizing their relationship drama for the press, perhaps referencing the multiple songs she’s released that appear to be about him and their past. He sings, “You're messin' with my life as a career move,” before later adding, “Oh, I wish that I could open my eyes and the nightmare be over / But you sensationalize, keep fannin' the fire for the headlines.”
Joshua adds, “I can't help but wonder why you won't make it end / Guess you would never dare, you would never dare / To wastе a crisis.”
Elsewhere in the track, Joshua goes on to directly mention “death threats,” which presumably refers to the onslaught of hateful messages he’s received online in the wake of Olivia’s success.
The second song on the EP, titled “Secret,” contains arguably the most pointed reference to Olivia: a direct quotation of one of her biggest lyrics. Joshua sings, “I rеally hope you had your fun, good for you foolin' everyone.”
As mentioned, Olivia’s song “good 4 u” is widely assumed to be about Joshua following their apparent breakup. In the song, she details feelings of anger toward a mystery ex-boyfriend, who she mentions “found a new girl.”
Joshua goes on to call out the subject of the song for calculatingly masking “the truth” to evoke sympathy from others. He sings: “When your 'Woe is me' stops workin' / I bet your songs won't sound the same / The truth you can't deny changed everything / Oh, you can't hide behind what's clear as day.”
He later references “rumors” that “could kill” in what might be a nod toward the numerous rumors about him that circulated following the release of Olivia’s songs. He sings, “My friends all warned me I should run for the hills / But I defended you still / ‘Cause I knew rumors could kill.”
In the final of the three songs, “Set Me Free,” Joshua sings about healing from feelings of pain and heartbreak, which is perhaps a signal toward how he’s been coping since the breakup.
He opens the song with emotional lyrics: “I don't know what I did to deserve all this / I don't wanna be rude or on the defensive / But I've been goin' through it too.”
Joshua later sings, “Tell my mom I'm okay while I'm holdin' back tears / It's been a fuckin' year / And I've been doin' my time, I've been workin' on me / Wasn't sure I'd survive, never felt so weak / And nothin' really seemed to help it.”
Later on in the chorus, Joshua details his realization that he doesn’t have to let the pain of his past consume him entirely: “You don't get to take all of me (Set me free) / I don't need your apology (Let me be).”
Unsurprisingly, fans have quickly taken to Twitter to share their thoughts on Joshua’s latest songs.
Some users voiced their frustration at Joshua for seemingly discrediting Olivia’s feelings and accusing her of expressing herself solely as a “career move.”
“[Olivia] was just using music as a coping mechanism & [Joshua’s] basically accusing her of only doing it to be spiteful,” one user tweeted.
“So Olivia making art after going through a break up is a ‘career move’ but when josh does it he’s expressing his feelings. Fuck the double standards,” another wrote.
Meanwhile, others argued that Joshua is well within his rights to “tell his side of the story,” particularly given that he’s been the subject of a barrage of hate tweets over the past several months.
“everyone’s fine with olivia sharing her side of the story but josh is gaslighting and manipulative for sharing his side too?” questioned one user.
“Why is it okay for Olivia to share her side but not Josh???” echoed another.
And some users chose to take the middle ground, urging listeners to “stop picking sides,” and instead focus on what both artists have to offer.
“olivia wrote songs about HER experience. not once has anyone confirmed who these songs are about. EVERYONE ELSE made it about josh. now josh is writing songs about HIS experience. let him!!” tweeted one user.
“please stop picking sides in theoretical celebrity relationships. josh & olivia both write great music & you’re limiting yourself by deciding 'who was right.' anyways stream crisis/secret/set me free tonight & keep streaming sour,” wrote another.
On that note, you can listen to Joshua’s EP, Crisis / Secret / Set Me Free, here. And you can also listen to Olivia’s album SOUR here.
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