The 27-year-old British singer delivered her empowerment anthem titled “Girls.” The record has been the subject of several rumors during the past few months, with many fans theorizing which female artists would appear on the track. Well, last week, Ora finally confirmed the “Girls” all-star lineup: Cardi B, Charli XCX, and Bebe Rexha.
The catchy record is a celebration of female sexuality, with lyrics that nod to Katy Perry’s 2008 breakout single “I Kissed a Girl” and Cyndi Lauper’s 1983 hit “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”
The song discussed themes of bisexuality and received a mixed reception. While some praised the song as a "bisexual anthem," others pointed out the problematic undertones and queer stereotypes perpetuated by the lyrics.
Openly out artists Kehlani and Hayley Kiyoko voiced their criticisms on Twitter. Kiyoko called the song "downright tone-deaf" for the way it "fuels the male gaze while marginalizing the idea of women loving women." Kehlani, who appeared on Cardi B's album, pointed out that there many "awkward slurs" across the song. Both artists emphasized their fandom of all four of the artists on the record as well as support for expressions of sexuality in all forms.
After facing backlash from Hayley Kiyoko, Kehlani, and others, singer Rita Ora has come forward to apologize to those who may have been “hurt” by her new single. “I am sorry how I expressed myself in my song has hurt anyone,” the singer wrote in a post shared to Twitter. “I would never intentionally cause harm to other LGBTQ+ people or anyone.”
While apologizing for the messaging of the song, the singer also came out as bisexual. In a note posted on her Twitter account, Ora wrote that the single "was written to represent my truth and is an accurate account of a very real and honest experience in my life." She goes on to reveal that she has had "romantic relationships with women and men" and maintains that the perspective of the song was her "personal journey."
She continued the note by apologizing to anyone hurt by the delivery of the song's message. "I would never intentionally cause harm to other LGBTQ+ people or anyone," she said. "Looking forward, I hope that continuing to express myself through my art will empower my fans to feel as proud of themselves as I'm learning to feel about who I am."