Sour's fourth track, “1 step forward, 3 steps back," interpolates the quiet piano melody of Swift’s 2017 Reputation closer “New Year’s Day.” Fans were tipped off before Sour's May 21 release that Swift would appear somewhere on the album, when a fan account on Twitter shared screenshots of alleged album credits from Genius and Spotify. They showed that Swift and her collaborator Jack Antonoff had songwriting credits on the song, which at first had people thinking they had collaborated on an original. But no, she just interpolated the melodies of the song — which is significant in itself. As one fan on Twitter astutely pointed out, by not directly sampling the song and simply recreating the melody herself, she wouldn't have to pay the, ahem, owner of the song any money. (Hint: It's not Taylor).
And then there are of course other nods to Swift in there: The most blatant being the title, where the numbers 1 and 3 together make 13, which is an auspicious number in the Swiftieverse.
While Rodrigo sings “1 step forward, 3 steps back" with the same kind of soft, melancholic timbre as Swift does "New Year's Day," the relationships they describe in each song could not be more different. "New Year's Day" is about the kind of romance that exists after the party's over and the lights are on — where you give each other Advil and do the un-sexy cleaning up because that's what true, loving partners do. Rodrigo, on the other hand, sings about the painful experience of dealing with a mercurial love that constantly disappoints and makes you doubt yourself. "It's always one step forward, and three steps back / I'm the love of your life until I make you mad," she sings in the chorus. But the Swiftian connection peeks its head out in the second verse with the emblematic word, "lover": "Which lover will I get today? / Will you walk me to the door or send me home crying."
Rodrigo and Swift's relationship hasn't simply been one-sided. Last April, Swift reposted the HSMTMTS star's cover of Lover single “Cruel Summer” to her Instagram stories, and congratulated her "baby" Rodrigo when her song "drivers license" made it high up on the iTunes Chart (next to her own deluxe Evermore tracks). They then took their love affair to the next level when they officially met in person at the 2021 BRIT Awards in early May.
Fans, however, speculate that the two are planning yet another surprise upcoming collab. Rodrigo recently showed off a present that Swift sent her: a ring similar to the one she wore while recording her 2012 album Red. Rodrigo wore red during her BRITs performance of "drivers license," while Swift sported the same hair and lip from her Red era. Could Rodrigo be featured on the upcoming Red (Taylor's Version)? Are we getting a duet?
If so, we won't be surprised that Rodrigo has adopted the same love of sneaky Easter eggs as her "biggest idol and inspiration." Like mother, like daughter.