Earlier this month, Rita Ora enlisted the girl power Cardi B, Charli XCX, and Bebe Rexha and debuted their collaboration, “Girls.” Following heavy criticism, Charli XCX is the latest to respond and defend the track.
“Girls” may sound like a fun summer bop, but some critics are saying the song is actually a party crasher for portraying bisexuality as casual intoxicated encounters and immature rebellion.
Charli recently commented on her song with Rita Ora in a Rolling Stone interview, acknowledging that the “Girls” situation is something she felt she could learn from.
“I think that’s something we can all do: we can all learn from this conversation. It would be great to continue this dialogue in a positive way—not in an attacking way—so that people can learn about people’s feelings, about people’s sexualities and viewpoints,” she said.
Charli also spoke on behalf of her friend Rita Ora, explaining that audiences should empathize with Ora’s personal experiences, saying, “She really does have every right to tell her story because she’s not doing it from an exploitative viewpoint, she’s had relationships with women. She’s had relationships with men too. I don’t understand why her story is less valid than anybody else’s.”
Ora already commented on the controversy, taking to Twitter to apologize and address that it was written to “represent [her] truth” and as “an accurate account of a “very real and honest experience” in her life.
— Rita Ora (@RitaOra) May 14, 2018
Reminiscent of Katy Perry’s hit “I Kissed a Girl,” “Girls” was intended to be a “gender-fluid freedom record” for 2018. But in 2008, when Perry said “I kissed a girl and I liked it,” everyone liked it. Ten years later, Ora’s chorus “Red wine, I just wanna kiss girls, girls, girls” isn’t as well-loved. Prominent queer artists such as Kehlani, Hayley Kiyoko, Charlotte Day Wilson, and Katie Gavin of MUNA have used their platforms to speak out.
Kiyoko, who received praise for her album Expectations and its depiction of same-sex desire, was one of the first to comment on “Girls.”
“I don’t need to drink wine to kiss girls; I’ve loved women my entire life. This type of messaging is dangerous because it completely belittles and invalidates the very pure feelings of an entire community,” she explained.
Real talk 🌈 pic.twitter.com/9EbZd5dYZq
— Hayley Kiyoko (@HayleyKiyoko) May 11, 2018
Similarly, Kehlani, whose recent single “Honey” illustrates self-love and romance with a female soulmate, added that though she respects the “Girls” gang, the lyrics were “harmful.”
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.
— Kehlani (@Kehlani) May 11, 2018
Toronto artist Charlotte Day Wilson scorned the track for trivializing the queer identity and experience.
This song is trash. The queer experience has juuust a bit more depth to it than a drunken, silly kiss or a threesome every now and then. Stop delegitimizing our culture and capitalizing off of it. https://t.co/lGMbVhA3fy
— Charlotte Day Wilson (@cdaydreamz) May 11, 2018
Another friend of Ora’s, actor Cara Delevingne, supported her, telling Paper Magazine, “She’s being honest about something she may not have been comfortable before. I don’t think it’s wrong and people disagreeing with it and being vocal…no one’s ever going to fully back one thing that happens.” She added, “There’s always going to be conversation. It’s why you make music, or movies, so people can talk about it. That’s the point.”
— Rita Ora (@RitaOra) May 14, 2018