Rock

Elvis Costello's OK With Olivia Rodrigo's 'Brutal' Sounding Like His Song: 'It's How Rock and Roll Works'

Elvis Costello
Ray di Pietro

Elvis Costello

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then color Elvis Costello super impressed. The punk/new wave icon came to the defense of Olivia Rodrigo this week when the internet pointed out that the "Drivers License" star seemed to have taken some inspiration from his angsty 1978 anthem "Pump It Up."

That sneery double entendré-laden broadside from Costello's This Year's Model album has a driving rhythm that sounds updated by Rodrigo on the equally bothered song "Brutal" from her debut album, Sour. When someone tweeted that "first song on the album is a pretty much direct lift from Elvis Costello," the bespectacled English icon -- who, not for nothing, got the first part of his stage name from a certain other rock superstar -- had a succinct, perfectly Costello response.

"This is fine by me, Billy," he responded. "It's how rock and roll works. You take the broken pieces of another thrill and make a brand new toy. That's what I did." Just to put a finer point on it, Costello included the hashtags "#subterreneanhomesickblues" and "#toomuchmonkeybusiness," in reference to the, respectively, Bob Dylan and Chuck Berry songs that influenced "Pump It Up."

It's not the first time Rodrigo has been accused of wearing her influences on her sleeve. This follows on the heels of Courtney Love pointing out that the promo images for Rodrigo's upcoming "Sour Prom" livestream event were strangely similar to the cover of Hole's 1994 Live Through This, which also features a woman in a prom dress and tiara clutching a bouquet of flowers with mascara running down her face.

"Spot the difference! #twinning! @oliviarodrigo," Love said on Instagram on Thursday (June 24), along with a winking face and two queen emojis. Rodrigo left a single comment on Love's post: "love u and live through this sooooo much." In another Facebook comment, Love said, "Stealing an original idea and not asking permission is rude. There’s no way to be elegant about it . I’m not angry. It happens all the time to me."

The "Prom" pic has also drawn comparisons to photos of Brooklyn indie rockers Pom Pom Squad in a series of side-by-side posts displaying the two acts' cheerleader-centric roll-out imagery. Tone Deaf pointed out that both seem to have taken equal inspiration from artist Petra Collins' The Female Gaze and School Spirit photo series; Rodrigo worked with Collins on the Sour promo materials.

Rodrigo, whose debut album returns to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 this week, had posted several inspiration photos, including a still from the film Carrie, for the shoot on Instagram Stories last week.

See Costello's tweet and listen to "Pump It Up" and "Brutal" below.