It’s no secret that Rita Ora’s star-studded track “Girls” drew polarized reactions. Some referred to the song—assisted by Cardi B, Bebe Rexha, and Charli XCX—as a “bisexual anthem” due to its playful lyrics about same-sex make-out sessions; however, many members of the LGBTQ community, including queer artists Kehlani and Hayley Kiyoko, blasted the record for its “tone deaf” message as well as perpetuating harmful stereotypes about bisexual women.
Weeks after the song’s official release, Charli XCX has addressed the controversy in an interview with Rolling Stone.
“I think the conversation and dialogue around this song is really important,” she said. “I try so hard to be as involved with the LGBTQ community as possible. Without that community, my career would not really be anything.”
The British singer continued: “I read Kehlani’s post, Hayley’s post, Katie [Gavin] from Muna’s post. I could totally relate to the conversation that was being had. Of course, the intention of the song was never to hurt anybody. None of the artists on this song would ever want to upset or hurt anyone.”
Rita and Cardi have also acknowledged the controversy surrounding “Girls,” insisting they never intended to offend listeners. Shortly after the backlash hit, Rita revealed she had dated both men and women, and that the track was “an accurate account of a very real and honest experience in my life.”
Charli XCX claimed she was aware that Rita had a strong personal connection to the record and that Rita had “every right to tell her story because she’s not doing it from an exploitative viewpoint.”
“I've known Rita for a very long time in this particular journey and in this particular story in her life,” she said. “I would never want to take anyone’s space in pop music, but Rita is somebody I've known for a very long time who has had queer experiences and [I felt] that perhaps this is a safe space for me to be on this record. I apologize to any people I've offended by that.”