A mesmerizing thrill. Olivia Rodrigo’s VMA performance had some celebrities and fans concerned at first. The Guts musician performed a captivating opening set at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards filled with lights, glam, and a supposed malfunction that got everyone’s heads turning.

The Billboard chart-topping 20-year-old performed two songs from her latest album Guts: “vampire” and “get him back!” On stage, she recreated the music video for “vampire” where she lays down in a mossy filled forest and everything on set malfunctions. Sparks flew everywhere and everything seemed to be going wrong—she was even pulled from the stage by a stage handler. But, it’s show business baby and this was all part of the act! She then seamlessly transitioned to “get him back!” with background dancers running around the stage and having fun while singing about a boy they want to reunite with.

Olivia Rodrigo Merch

Olivia Rodrigo Guts

Some people in the audience were concerned about what was going on during the first act. Many fans saw Selena Gomez’s reaction on live TV and took to social media to comment on it. “selena was in DISTRESS thinking olivia was having an actual stage malfunction IM CRYING,” one user wrote on X (formerly known as Twitter). Another wrote, “olivia rodrigo about to give selena a heart attack i’m crying.” When news broke about her reaction, Selena commented on an Instagram post and assured that she was only started by a noise made from the pyrotechnics in the performance. “I heard a loud noise and it scared me,” she clarified. She also wrote on her Instagram story about all the reaction backlash, “I will never be a meme again. I’d rather sit still than be dragged for being myself. Much love.”

“vampire” won Best Editing at the 2023 VMAs. Olivia told Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1 about writing the song. ” I wrote the song on the piano, super chill, in December of last year. And my producer Dan and I finished it in January and finished writing it. And I’ve just always been really obsessed with songs that are very dynamic. My favorite songs are high and low, and reel you in and spit you back out. And so we wanted to do a song where it just crescendoed the entire time and it reflects the pent-up anger that you have for a situation.”

She also elaborated on the songwriting process going back and forth between Dan Nigro’s Los Angeles studio and the iconic Electric Lady Studios in New York City. “I was upset about a certain situation and went to the studio alone and sat down at the grand piano, and the chords and melody and lyrics just poured out of me — almost like an out-of-body experience,” the singer recalls in a press release. “It’s a song about feeling confused and hurt, and at first I thought it was meant to be a piano ballad. But when Dan and I started working on it, we juxtaposed the lyrics with these big drums and crazy tempo changes. So now it’s like a heartbreak song you can dance to.”

Olivia later told Zane Lowe about the inspiration and process behind writing “get him back!” “Dan and I were at Electric Lady Studios in New York here and we were writing all day. We wrote a song that I didn’t like and I had a total breakdown,” she revealed. “I was like, “God, I can’t write songs. I’m so bad at this. I don’t want to,” whatever, being really negative. Then we took a break and we came back and we wrote “get him back”, and it’s one of my favorite songs. So just goes to show you, just never give up. Yeah, super fun to write. I really like the chorus. It feels sticky to me and it feels like something that I would want a crowd to sing.”

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