Disney fans watched with bated breath when High School Musical: The Musical: The Series star Olivia Rodrigo dropped her number-one single ‘Drivers Licence’ back in January.
It’s been widely speculated the song was a diss track about her co-star and onscreen love interest Joshua Bassett, who she was dating in real life… before he apparently dumped her for fellow actress and singer Sabrina Carpenter.
There’s a lot to unpack in this alleged love triangle, so let’s take a look at where the co-stars stand now that Rodrigo has released her highly-anticipated breakup album Sour, which includes another song believed to be about her ex…
What happened between Joshua Bassett and Olivia Rodrigo?
Young Hollywood stars Joshua Bassett, 20, and Olivia Rodrigo, 18, play love interests in the Disney Plus series High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. They play on-again, off-again couple Ricky and Nini and their chemistry immediately led fans to speculate they were dating in real life too, although they never confirmed or denied this.
They only added more fuel to the rumours in March 2020 when Rodrigo shared a cute clip of herself singing about someone with a “brown-eyed grin and messy hair”, which fans suspected was Bassett.
However, one month later they stopped liking each other’s social media posts and appeared to have split after Bassett released a song about lost love titled ‘Common Sense’.
The song is about second chances, with the actor singing, “Common sense says the girl’s not worth my time/ But common sense ain’t common when you come to mind.”
It seems his plea for a second chance fell on deaf ears with Rodrigo sharing a TikTok video of herself listening to breakup tracks while musing over “failed relationships” in August 2020.
Soon Bassett was singing another tune and raising eyebrows when he was seen grabbing lunch with actress Sabrina Carpenter in LA.
For Halloween, the pair even couple-dressed, rocking Shark Boy and Lava Girl outfits.
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What is Olivia Rodrigo’s song ‘Drivers License’ about?
Rodrigo’s debut single ‘Drivers License’ topped the US charts, was number one on the ARIA charts and has surpassed more than 100 million streams on Spotify.
Fans believe the song is about the love triangle that seemingly formed between Rodrigo, Bassett and Carpenter — especially since in an earlier version of the track, Rodrigo sings about a “brunette” girl.
“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,” she sings.
The lyric change caused heads to turn and the pointed reference at the “older” woman also appears to suggest it’s Carpenter, who is 22.
“I got my driver’s license last week / Just like we always talked about / ‘Cause you were so excited for me / To finally drive up to your house / But today I drove through the suburbs / Crying ’cause you weren’t around,” Rodrigo sings.
In an interview with Billboard after the single’s release, Rodrigo remained tight-lipped when asked who inspired her debut single.
“I totally understand people’s curiosity with the specifics of who the song’s about and what it’s about, but to me, that’s really the least important part of the song,” she told the magazine. “It’s resonating with people because of how emotional it is, and I think everything else is not important.”
In another interview, Rodrigo said she couldn’t possibly have been writing about Carpenter as she did not know her on a personal level.
“I think we’ve met once or twice in passing, but I’ve never had a conversation with her,” she told Radio.com in March. “I don’t think I could write a song that was meaningful or emotional about somebody that I don’t know.”
But whispers of a love triangle will not go away, especially now Rodrigo has released her debut album, Sour, which is brimming with breakup anthems, including ‘Deja Vu’.
In the track, Rodrigo sings about watching an ex move on with another actress while remembering how they used to sing duets together (she did this with Bassett) and trade jackets (she apparently wore Bassett’s jacket in her ‘Drivers License’ music video).
“Do you call her, almost say my name? ‘Cause let’s be honest, we kinda do sound the same,” Rodrigo sings. “Another actress, I hate to think that I was just your type.”
How did Joshua Bassett react to Olivia Rodrigo’s song ‘Drivers License’?
After Rodrigo released ‘Drivers License’ on January 8, Bassett hit back with his track ‘Lie, Lie, Lie’, which he dropped on January 14. He didn’t hold back in the single either, calling out a person for painting him in a negative light and “acting all so innocent”.
“I know what you say about me. I hope that it makes you happy. You can’t seem to get me off your mind (Get me off your mind). Oh, I know you’re lying through your teeth. You told them the lies that you told me. I’ve had enough of it this time,” he sings in the chorus.
In a separate Instagram Story shared after the single’s release, Bassett said he was inspired to write the song after hearing a friend had been talking about him behind his back.
“I wrote ‘Lie, Lie, Lie’ after I found out a friend had been lying about me behind my back for a long time,” he wrote in a note. “It always sucks to hear that someone you thought you could trust would throw you under the bus when it benefits them.
“It happens to all of us, and I think all you can do is seek out people that build you up rather than tear you down.”
While Bassett appeared to take ‘Drivers License’ to heart at the time, when Rodrigo released ‘Deja Vu’ in April, he was singing a different tune. Weeks after her second single dropped, Bassett praised Rodrigo on Instagram Stories.
“SUUUUUUPER late on this but! I love this song so much @oliviarodrigo!!! The world better watch out for the album!!!!!” he wrote.
More proof Bassett has moved on from the ‘Drivers License’ drama came weeks ago when he told ET Canada, “All I will say is, you know, that’s her story to tell. Whatever the song is to her is her thing to tell, so I’ll let her do that.
“But I would say I hope people don’t forget the value that she and Sabrina bring to the world outside of the drama. And I hope people will look at the depth of who they are instead of just the surface-level gossip.”
Are Joshua Bassett and Sabrina Carpenter dating?
Bassett and Carpenter have neither confirmed nor denied if they are in a relationship, but it’s clear that the pair are good friends.
Bassett even asked the actress and singer to collaborate with him on a track for the self-titled EP he released in March.
“I sent her a quick message and was like, ‘Hey, I think you’re really awesome and I have this song I think you would sound great on, let me know what you think,’ and she responded like 10 minutes later, gave me her number, and I sent her the song,” he recalled to Brazil news site Febre Teen last year ahead of the EP’s release.
“Fortunately, she liked it, so we got together in the studio and it was just a blast to make. I’m really happy with how it all turned out.”
But with the love triangle whispers getting louder, by February Bassett decided to ditch the duet.
“I didn’t want my EP to be overshadowed by some other narrative that people were trying to make,” he told Billboard. “I really want the focus to be on the art instead of some of the talk and the chatter.
“You shouldn’t live to please everybody, but at the same time, there are ways to be sensitive to situations where maybe [the duet] has a better chance at a different time.”
Has Sabrina Carpenter spoken out about the supposed love triangle?
Carpenter appeared to tell her side of the story too back in January. Weeks after the release of Rodrigo’s ‘Drivers License’ and Bassett’s ‘Lie, Lie, Lie’, Carpenter released her own single on January 22, title ‘Skin’.
“I’m not asking you to let it go. You been tellin’ your side. So I’ll be tellin’ mine,” Carpenter sings, before belting out the chorus: “You can try. To get under my, under my, under my skin. While he’s on mine. Yeah, all on my, all on my, all on my skin. I wish you knew that еven you. Can’t get under my skin if I don’t let you in.”
But Carpenter insists the song wasn’t a “diss track”, nor was it a direct response to Rodrigo’s “magnificent song”.
“I wasn’t bothered by a few lines in a (magnificent) song and wrote a diss track about it,” Carpenter began in a lengthy Instagram message. “I was at a tipping point in my life for countless reasons. so i was inspired to do what i usually do to cope, write something that i wish i could have told myself in the past.
“People can only get to you if you give them the power to. and a lot of people were trying to get to me. the song isn’t calling out one single person. some lines address a specific situation, while other lines address plenty of other experiences I’ve had this past year.. it also shows that many things have actually gotten under my skin.. and I’m still learning to not give other people so much power over my feelings.”
Are Olivia Rodrigo and Joshua Bassett still friends?
It remains to be seen where Rodrigo and Bassett stand today, but they did put their differences aside on the set of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series back in October, when they resumed filming of Season 2.
The series has since premiered on Disney Plus and both Rodrigo and Bassett appeared cordial enough when they got back into character as Nini and Ricky.
In the new season, the pair even sing a duet together, titled ‘Even When/The Best Part’. Due to the pandemic, they performed the duet separately with the scenes then spliced together in post-production, but Bassett was excited, nonetheless.
“I played guitar when we filmed it and sang along to Olivia’s vocals in my ear while she shot her side separately,” he told Billboard. “I’m stoked to see how it all came together and really think people are gonna love it!”
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