QUEER VOICES
05/14/2018 12:19 pm ET Updated May 14, 2018

Rita Ora's 'Girls' Deemed 'Tone-Deaf, Harmful' By LGBTQ Pop Artists

The pop star's new song was called out for exploiting bisexuality.

UPDATE May 14: 

Rita Ora responded to the controversy with a lengthy statement on Twitter. “Girls,” she said, is “an accurate account of a very real and honest experience.”

“I have had romantic relationships with women and men throughout my life and this is my personal journey,” she said, and offered an apology. 

Previously:

Rita Ora says her new single, “Girls,” is a “real gender-fluid freedom record,” but the song is getting a chilly reception from a number of queer pop artists. 

On “Girls,” released last Friday, Ora teams up with Cardi B, Bebe Rexha and Charli XCX, no doubt in hopes of nabbing that ever-coveted “song of the summer” status. 

“Sometimes I just wanna kiss girls, girls, girls ... Red wine, I just wanna kiss girls, girls girls,” Ora sings on the track, which can be viewed below. “I am excited, I’m open-minded, I’m 50/50, and I’m never gonna hide it, you should know.” 

Music critics have interpreted the lyrics as Ora’s acknowledgement of her own bisexuality. The star herself, however, played it somewhat coy. 

“If people look at it like that, it’s very narrow-minded, and I don’t think that’s what this record is,” she told People, when asked if she considers herself bisexual or fluid. “I don’t think that that even matters.” 

Ora also said “Girls” was inspired in part by Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl.” 

“It was just such a statement; it was so fun,” she said of Perry’s 2008 hit. “I wanted to do something that was in that lane.” 

But at a time when openly LGBTQ stars are proudly making declarations about their sexuality in their music and videos, “Girls” seems out-of-step. (Even Perry recently admitted she’d “make an edit” to “I Kissed a Girl” because she now believes her song perpetuates “stereotypes.”) 

Singer Hayley Kiyoko didn’t identify “Girls” or Ora by name, but posted a lengthy criticism of a “new song ... featuring a handful of well-known pop artists” on her Instagram Saturday.

Beloved by fans as a “lesbian Jesus,” Kiyoko said the song’s messaging is “just downright tone-deaf” and “does more harm than good for the LGBTQ+ community.”

Singer Kehlani, who identifies as queer, also didn’t call out Ora or “Girls” specifically, but appeared critical of the new song on Twitter.   

Lesbian singer-songwriter Shura needed just a single emoji to sum up her view on the song. 

Katie Gavin, lead singer of the Los Angeles-based pop trio MUNA, took a constructive approach, saying she was grateful for the “renewed fire under my ass to give us queer people better bangers.”  

Better luck next time, Rita. 

CONVERSATIONS