There’s a potential love triangle stewing at East View High School. Actress Olivia Rodrigo, who plays Nini Salazar-Roberts in the Disney+ original show High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, released a new single this morning, titled “Drivers License,” along with an accompanying music video. The song quickly sparked rumors about the details of her relationship with her HSMTMTS co-star Joshua Bassett. The song features some pretty pointed lyrics, which some fans believe are about Bassett and a certain blonde singer-actress, and now the teens and tweens are in a tizzy. For those of us who graduated high school before 2008, let us give you the rundown.
Rodrigo and Bassett, whose characters date in the series, had onscreen chemistry and an offscreen closeness that led to rumors about an IRL relationship. Back in August, Rodrigo posted a TikTok captioned “And that’s on failed relationships,” featuring “All I Want” from the HSMTMTS soundtrack, which Rodrigo wrote and sang in the series about Bassett’s character, Ricky. In the new track, “Drivers License,” Rodrigo laments the end of a relationship as she drives through the streets after getting her license (again, she is 17) and also mentions, “I guess you didn’t mean what you wrote in that song about me,” which fans are assuming is about Bassett, who released two singles, “Common Sense” and “Anyone Else,” last year.
Now wait — that’s not all, folks. Here’s where Sabrina Carpenter — the 21-year-old singer and actress who played Maya Hart in the Disney series Girl Meets World — makes her grand appearance. It’s also rumored that Bassett and Carpenter started dating after Rodrigo and Bassett called it quits in 2020. While they also haven’t publicly affirmed this, the two have been seen together and have appeared in each other’s TikToks, most recently where they reenact a scene from The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl. In “Drivers License,” Rodrigo refers to a “blonde girl” who’s “so much older than [her].” Carpenter is in fact blonde and is four years older than Rodrigo.
Rodrigo announced the release of “Drivers License” on January 4, and a mere hour later, Bassett announced the release of his upcoming single, titled “Lie Lie Lie,” which comes out on January 14. Followers were quick to call out the coincidence in the close posts, calling it “awkward” and “trying to steal Olivia’s thunder.” They connected an image of him dimly lit in a car to the music video that Rodrigo released with “Drivers License” today. Fans also took notice that while many cast members from HSMTMTS, including Julia Lester, Joe Serafini, Larry Saperstein, Sofia Wylie, and Dara Reneé, commented enthusiastically on Rodrigo’s post, only one, Serafini, commented on Bassett’s post. Do they know more about the drama that’s still yet to unfold? With season two coming, here’s hoping that the power of music and a dance number can mend some hearts on the HSMTMTS set.
Update, January 11: Rodrigo can count one Taylor Swift as a supporter, who voiced her support for “Drivers License” on Instagram. After Rodrigo posted about her song being underneath Swift’s two new evermore bonus tracks, Swift replied, “I say that’s my baby and I’m really proud” (quoting Swift’s own mother). It’s not the first time Swift has endorsed Rodrigo, though — she previously posted support to her Instagram Story after Rodrigo covered “Cruel Summer” for MTV in April 2020.
Update, January 13: Ahead of his single release tomorrow, Joshua Bassett shared a teaser for “Lie Lie Lie” today. Featuring some moody guitar strums and some clips of him riding in a car (!), perhaps more will be revealed when the song drops.
Update, January 14: Aaaaand Joshua Bassett’s “Lie Lie Lie” has arrived. Go ahead and try, try, try not to enjoy some speculation about whom is kissing whom’s ass goodbye.
Update, January 15, 11 a.m.: In probably the last place he’d want to be following a new single and music-video release, Bassett shared on Instagram that he was in the hospital recovering from surgery. He described enduring the worst pain of his life, and without many details, he said that the doctor gave him the medal for being “the sickest patient in the hospital.”
In other, HSMTMTS drama-related news, fans were quick to compare Rodrigo’s and Bassett’s videos, both with night-driving scenes, hanging outside of car windows, and all in a purple neon hue. However, Bassett first shared the song on Instagram back in 2019 (below), long before any rumors concerning him and Olivia’s relationship.
If “Lie Lie Lie” doesn’t add much to the Olivia-Joshua-Sabrina love-triangle drama, another potential song featuring Carpenter and Bassett might. HSMTMTS sleuths also dug up a Genius lyric page for a song called “We Both Know,” which is right now an unconfirmed, unreleased song by Bassett and Carpenter. The song was filed on BMI back in November, and is slated for release on Bassett’s forthcoming EP. The plot just continues to thicken.
Update, January 22: Another week, another song release that stirs up the ongoing HSMTMTS drama pot. Sabrina Carpenter has dropped a new surprise single, “Skin.” The singer and Girl Meets World actress’s song features some very pointed lyrics to Rodrigo’s “Drivers License” in this tender pop ballad.
In the opening verse, she sings that maybe her and the subject (ahem, Rodrigo) could’ve been friends, telling herself “Maybe you didn’t mean it / Maybe ‘blonde’ was the only rhyme.” You may recall, in “Drivers License,” Rodrigo refers to a “blonde girl / Who always made [her] doubt.” Interesting. Carpenter also sings “But you been tellin’ your side / So I’ll be telling mine,” completing the love-triangle narrative between Rodrigo, Carpenter, and Bassett. With all of the news surrounding this drama and Rodrigo’s “Drivers License” — which has inevitably pulled Carpenter in the mix — she says, “You’re putting me in the spotlight / But I’ve been under it all my life.” In some of the most telling lyrics, Carpenter sings, “You can try / To get under my, under my, under my skin / While hе’s on mine,” possibly referring to the fact that she is now with Joshua Bassett and Rodrigo is not. Spicy! She also drops a little tease about driving with “Don’t drive yourself insane.” Get it? Drive?
Despite everything, there seems to be no hard feelings on Carpenter’s end, and in the bridge she tells the subject, “I just hope that one day / We both can laugh about it.” Yes girls, please don’t let a boy get in between a possible friendship, we are all better than that!
Update, January 22, 4:15 p.m.: Bassett showed support for his rumored girlfriend Sabrina Carpenter in his Instagram story today, with an image of the album art captioned “been stuck in my head since I heard it!!! congratulations @sabrinacarpenter on ‘skin,’ the new label, & all that’s to come!” Fans of Rodrigo were quick to call out that it looks like Bassett has taken Carpenter’s side in the drama, but there’s still no news on who is actually dating who. Meanwhile, Rodrigo shared videos on her story of her singing Taylor Swift. I smell a Reputation era coming.
Update, January 25, 11:45 a.m.: Carpenter wants us all to keep an open mind “lyrically.” In an Instagram post, the 21-year-old blonde explained that “Skin” isn’t a Rodrigo diss track: “I wasn’t bothered by a few lines in a (magnificent) song and wrote a diss track about it,” she captioned a selfie. “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.” She adds that the song isn’t about a specific person or event but a combination of experiences from the past year. “I don’t want this to become an endless cycle so please don’t take this as an opportunity to send more hate anyone’s way,” she finished with a plea to fans. Stream “Skin” and “Drivers License” for the patience and strength to handle a tabloid love triangle.
Update, January 29: Whoever’s been lying to Joshua Bassett, here’s another song just for you. “Only a Matter of Time,” the second single from his upcoming EP, was released yesterday. Fans have deduced that the track possibly refers to the sexual assault allegations made against Bassett back in June 2020 and does not refer to the current situation with Olivia Rodrigo at all. In June 2020, a 16-year-old fan named Grace alleged that Bassett forcibly kissed and groped her in November 2019 in New York City. The allegations were made on a Twitter account that was deactivated soon after. On June 24, Bassett addressed the “abhorrent rumor,” telling followers it was “absolutely false.” Following the release of “Only a Matter of Time,” Bassett shared in an Instagram story, “I wrote this song in the summer of 2020 in a moment in time where social media was bringing a lot of darkness to my life. It was healing to put my phone down, turn off the noise and just write. There’s good that comes from social media, but it’s also become a place where people can say anything about anyone, no matter how false or damaging with no accountability.” In the ballad, Bassett sings about someone who has been spreading lies about him and that the truth will come out eventually. While he reflects on his hurt, he makes it clear that he’s not out for revenge, that’s in karma’s hands.
Meanwhile, Sabrina Carpenter has teased another upcoming song on social media this week, so we’ll see you next week for more updates on this never-ceasing drama.
Update, February 1: It’s not a new song — it’s the “Skin” music video! It’s rife with references, not only featuring a literal car but also a Bassett look-alike (played by Chilling Adventures of Sabrina star Gavin Leatherwood). Maybe next week we’ll get the Carpenter-Rodrigo rap battle?