Charli XCX has responded to the controversy surrounding “Girls,” her collaboration with Rita Ora, Cardi B and Bebe Rexha. The pop single, released earlier this month, came under fire for its depiction bisexuality.
The singer shared her feelings about the track with Rolling Stone before opening for Taylor Swift on the Reputation Stadium Tour in Denver Friday night (May 25). She said Ora, a close friend, told her releasing “Girls” “was the first she's been honest” about her sexuality in her music. (Ora has since come out a statement on social media and apologized to anyone in the LGBTQ+ community who was hurt by the song.)
“I think the conversation and dialogue around this song is really important,” Charli 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 … I read Kehlani's post, Hayley Kiyoko]'s post, Katie Gavin] from Muna's post. I could totally relate to the conversation that was being had. Of course, the intention the song was never to hurt anybody. None the artists on this song would ever want to upset or hurt anyone.”
Charli went on to explain that “Girls” was written about an experience Ora had with a woman: “She really does have every right to tell her story because she's not doing it from an exploitative viewpoint: she's been with women and had relationships with women,” she said. “She's had relationships with men too. I don't understand why her story is less valid than anybody else's.”
In the song, Ora sings about being “fifty-fifty and I'm never gonna hide it,” but other artists have taken pause with lyrics like “red wine, I just wanna kiss girls, girls, girls.”
As Hayley Kiyoko explained, “I don't need to drink wine to kiss girls; I've loved women my entire life. This type message is dangerous because it completely belittles and invalidates the very pure feelings an entire community.”
“I just really want to learn from this situation,” Charli said to Rolling Stone. “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. We can learn to not judge people before we get all the information. We can learn how certain words might make certain communities sad or upset.”
“I've known Rita for a very long time in this particular journey and in this particular story in her life,” she continued. “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 fended by that.”