Adam Levine shows compassion for Olivia Rodrigo amid plagiarism claims

Side-by-side images of a man with short brown hair and a beard and a woman with long brown hair.
Adam Levine is defending fellow singer Olivia Rodrigo amid allegations that she has plagiarized other artists.
(Jordan Strauss / Invision / AP, left; Susan Walsh / AP)

Adam Levine knows it’s brutal out here for young, flourishing artists such as Olivia Rodrigo who are navigating the music industry while others try to undermine their success.

The Maroon 5 frontman defended the “Drivers License” hitmaker over the weekend amid allegations that her chart-topping debut album, “Sour,” plagiarized the work of other musicians.

In the months since its record-shattering May release, “Sour” has drawn comparisons to the likes of Taylor Swift, Paramore and Elvis Costello, the latter of whom previously shrugged off perceived similarities between his and Rodrigo’s music.

“There’s all this drama about Olivia Rodrigo,” Levine said on his Instagram story. “Look, these are tricky things, and anyone who’s ever written a song knows that sometimes you rip something off inadvertently, and it makes it to tape, and then it gets released, and then there’s a lawsuit.

“It’s a natural thing for it to happen, and sometimes it gets ugly, and sometimes it’s warranted that people take legal action. Sometimes it’s not warranted that people take legal action, and ... the gray area has reared its ugly head these days.”


“Not asking permission is rude,” singer Courtney Love wrote after spotting similarities between artwork for an Olivia Rodrigo event and a Hole album.

June 28, 2021

To prove his point, Levine cited a 2015 case that saw the estate of Motown legend Marvin Gaye win more than $7.3 million in a copyright infringement suit against Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke, comparing their hit single, “Blurred Lines,” to Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up.”

“Without giving an opinion on ... how that one turned out, I do think that we [could] probably meet this with a little more compassion and understanding,” Levine continued.

“All this calling out and s—, it’s like, music is a creative thing, and I just hate to see it crushed ... When you take someone who’s a newer artist, and she’s doing things that emulate the ones from generations removed, I don’t know how bad that is. I think it’s kind of a cool thing to introduce the whole generation of young people to different musical ideas. ... That’s just my opinion.”

‘Brutal’ is the fourth track off Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album to get the music video treatment, following ‘Drivers License,’ ‘Deja Vu’ and ‘Good 4 U.’

Aug. 23, 2021

Both before and after accusations of plagiarism began swirling around her sensational debut, Rodrigo has formally and informally credited multiple artists for influencing her songs.

Last week, the teen pop phenom added Paramore singer Hayley Williams and former guitarist Josh Farro as cowriters on her pop-punk anthem “Good 4 U,” which several have linked sonically to Paramore’s 2007 smash “Misery Business.”

Rodrigo also has listed her songwriting idol, Swift, and company as cowriters on “Sour” tracks “Deja Vu” and “1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back.”

“I just hate to see it become this huge thing where people get really aggressive about it,” Levine said on social media. “I don’t know — maybe I’m just not as territorial about that kind of stuff. I’m almost flattered when people rip me off. But I’m sure I’ve ripped people off too. ... It’s music. It’s a beautiful thing.”


‘Sour’ is 18-year-old Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album, following the chart-topping success of her first-ever single, ‘Drivers License.’

May 20, 2021

In June, Costello similarly dismissed a disgruntled fan who accused Rodrigo of lifting a guitar riff from his 1978 tune “Pump It Up” for her angsty opening track, “Brutal.”

“This is fine by me,” Costello tweeted. “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.”

Not nearly as forgiving was former Hole singer Courtney Love, who attacked Rodrigo earlier this year for allegedly copying the cover art of a 1994 Hole album while promoting her “Sour Prom” concert film — despite the Gen Z superstar professing her admiration for Love on Instagram.

In response to Love’s outrage, Rodrigo took the high road, telling GQ, “To be honest, I’m just flattered that Courtney Love knows that I exist.”