Kehlani has spoken out about Rita Ora‘s new single, “Girls,” which she feels contained lyrics “harmful” to the LGBTQ+ community. The song features the four women on the song singing about sexual fantasies involving other women. Kehlani, who identifies as queer, tweeted some thoughts about the song Friday. “hate to be THAT guy but there were many awkward slurs, quotes, and moments that were like “word? word”,” she wrote of the song. “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.”
A fan responded to Kehlani’s criticism with a defense of the artists. “the lovely part of sexuality is that it is a spectrum (which i know you know) and for us to assume they’re all straight girls kissing girls just to attract men is…. not cool,” they said. To this, Kehlani clarified that her criticism was more about the choice of words rather than the male gaze. “mmm i never assumed it was for men lol just think certain quotes weren’t progressive,” she said. “done speaking about it now tho cheers everyone happy friday.” She did not specify which lyrics she was speaking of.
Singer Hayley Kiyoko also expressed issues with the song, responding to the lyrics in the chorus: “Sometimes, I just wanna kiss girls, girls, girls / Red wine, I just wanna kiss girls, girls, girls.”
“I don’t need to drink wine to kiss girls; I’ve loved women my entire life,” she wrote on Twitter. “This type of message is dangerous because it completely belittles and invalidates the very pure feelings of an entire community.” Read her full statement on the song below.
In an interview with People Magazine published Friday, Rita Ora explained what she felt the message of the song was. “For me, I always looked at this song as a real gender-fluid freedom record. I never looked at it as, “Only females can listen to it” or “Only males can listen to it”: It’s for everybody,” she said. “It really represents freedom and the chance to be what you want to be — and there being no judgment and just living your life as you want to live it. That’s what this song represents to me every time I hear it.”
Listen to the song below.