Rodrigo is 20 now, and “Guts,” due in September, will be her second album. And while “Drivers License” and its fallout became tabloid fodder, the public narrative wasn’t encoded into the song itself.
“Vampire” changes that. Rodrigo’s target here is someone attempting to be glamorous, or perhaps glamour itself: “Look at you, cool guy, you got it/I see the parties and the diamonds sometimes when I close my eyes/Six months of torture you sold as some forbidden paradise.”
Perhaps the song is about the Los Angeles nightlife fixture Zack Bia, one of Rodrigo’s rumored partners — if so, the structural shift from the first to second part might be pointed — that’s when the music becomes coffeehouse EDM, possibly a veiled allusion to Bia’s emergent career as a producer and D.J., and an echo of the Mayer-ian blues-pop Swift channeled on “Dear John.”
The relationship itself, Rodrigo learns, is a transaction, too. “The way you sold me for parts/As you sunk your teeth into me,” she yowls, before anointing her ex with the coldest moniker imaginable: “fame [expletive].” That insult usually begins with “star” rather than “fame,” but Rodrigo knows that the condition of fame is far more toxic than any one person, and that someone who craves it is perhaps uninterested in personhood at all.
On “Drivers License,” Rodrigo still saw the other woman as an enemy, or source of tension, but now on “Vampire,” she understands what the lines of allegiance truly are, marking an emergent feminist streak. Here, she finds kinship with her ex’s other partners, and lambastes herself for thinking she ever was the exception: “Every girl I ever talked to told me you were bad, bad news/You called them crazy, God, I hate the way I called ’em crazy too.”