Rita Ora’s new single, “Girls,” has been receiving a lot of attention since its release last Friday (May 11). Unfortunately, not all of it is the good kind.
In an interview with People, Rita described the song, which also features the talents of Cardi B, Charlie XCX, and Bebe Rexha, as a “gender-fluid freedom anthem.” – with lyrics like “I ain’t one-sided, I’m open-minded / I’m fifty-fifty and I’m never gonna hide it” and “Red wine, I just wanna kiss girls, girls, girls.” But not everyone saw it that way.
Hayley Kiyoko, musician and outspoken LGBTQ+ activist, said the song had a “dangerous” message. “Every so often there come certain songs with messaging that is just downright tone-deaf, which does more harm than good for the LGBTQ+ community,” she wrote. “I know this wasn’t the intention of the artists on the song, but it’s the lack of consideration behind these lyrics that really get me.”
Her thoughts were seconded by fellow artist Kehlani. “Every artist on the song is fantastic, and very much loved and supported by me… by all of us. But this isn’t about talent. It’s about choice,” she wrote in her tweet, pointing out “there. were. harmful. lyrics. period. love y’all.”
Rita issued an apology following the backlash, revealing that it was an “accurate account of a very real and honest experience” in her life. “I am sorry how I expressed myself in the song has hurt anyone. I would never intentionally cause harm to other LGBTQ+ people or anyone,” she wrote in her note. “Looking forward, I hope that continuing to express myself through my art will empower my fans to feel as proud of themselves as I’m learning to feel about who I am.”
Cardi B also took to Twitter to share her side. “We never try to cause harm or had bad intentions with the song. I personally myself had experiences with other woman,” saying, “I thought the song was a good song and I remember my experience.”
The “Bodak Yellow” rapper has been in hot water with the LGBTQ community before, which she also addressed in another message: “I know I have use words before that I wasn’t aware that they are offensive to the LGBT community. I apologize for that. Not everybody knows the correct “terms “to use. I learned and I stopped using it.”
“Girls” was inspired by Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl” from 2008. But even Katy admitted that she would re-write her breakout hit if she could to remove the stereotypes.