Sabrina Carpenter has a very different view of events from most people.
On Friday, the 23-year-old singer released her new album, Emails I Can’t Send, on which she addresses the backlash she received after Olivia Rodrigo debuted “Drivers License”.
Rodrigo’s song was about Joshua Bassett, with whom she had a relationship, and who began dating Carpenter soon after they broke up.
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In Carpenter’s new track “Because I Liked a Boy”, she addresses the fallout from being one of the unnamed subjects of Rodrigo’s song.
“Now I’m a homewrecker/I’m a slut/I got death threats…” she sings on the track. “Tell me who I am, ’cause I don’t have a choice/All because I liked a boy.”
In an article at Rolling Stone, Carpenter talks more about the song and her motivation for it.
“Now, looking back on it, the last two or three years of my life, that song came from a really real place in my life, so it didn’t feel right to not kind of write that song. But at the same time, I’ve had so many people that have heard it tell me how much they relate to it in their own way,” she says. “Like, ‘I went through years where people were believing all these things that people were saying about me that weren’t true.’”
She adds, “It was very therapeutic to write that song from hindsight and being like, ‘Wow, one thing leads to another and things can really get out of hand.’ Just being able to own it at the end of the day, and not let it determine who you are.”
Carpenter also says, “So many people probably have dealt with the situation of being labelled something that they’re not. And it’s frustrating because you want to do something about it. But then if you do something, people are mad; if you don’t do something, people are mad; and you’re like, ‘What’s the way I’m going to feel happy and at peace with myself?’ For me, it was just important to tell the story from my perception.”
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Talking about the album overall, Carpenter says, “I had to fight the urge to do what I normally do — cover it up with confidence — and instead just actually feel those feelings. The tolerance for bulls**t in the last two years really minimized for me.”
She continues, “When you’re younger, it’s a lot easier to let the words and labels that people put on you affect you and become part of who you are. Once you start to rebel against that, it starts to feel a little bit scarier, but also a bit more freeing. That’s why it felt like growing pains the whole time that I was making it.”
Carpenter had previously released the song “Skin” in 2021, which was rumoured by many to be a response to Rodrigo.
“Maybe we could’ve been friends/If I met you in another life/Maybe then we could pretend/There’s no gravity in the words we write,” she sang on that track. “Maybe you didn’t mean it/Maybe blonde was the only rhyme/The only rhyme.”