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‘Downright tone-deaf’: queer musicians slam Rita Ora’s new bisexual song

Ella Braidwood May 13, 2018
INGLEWOOD, CA - MARCH 11: Rita Ora (L) and Bebe Rexha speak onstage during the 2018 iHeartRadio Music Awards which broadcasted live on TBS, TNT, and truTV at The Forum on March 11, 2018 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartMedia)

(Kevin Winter/Getty)

A number of queer musicians have slammed Rita Ora’s new song ‘Girls’ for “fueling the male gaze while marginalising the idea of women loving women”.

The pop star released “Girls” on 11 May,  a song with Charli XCX, Carli B and Bebe Rexha, which the singer has said is “definitely” a bisexual anthem.

But the song has come under fire, with one queer female musician branding it as “downright tone-deaf,” adding that it “does more harm than good for the LGBTQ+ community.”

Singer Hayley Kiyoko posted on Twitter: “It’s important for us artists to use our platforms to move the cultural needle forward, not backwards.

“Every so often there come certain songs with messaging that is just downright tone-deaf, which does more harm than good for the LGBTQ+ community. A song like this just fuels the male gaze while marginalising the idea of women loving women.”

(HayleyKiyoko/Twitter)

And Kehlani, meanwhile, said the lyrics in the track  “weren’t progressive.”

She added: “I have an incredible song out with one of the artists, and would love to work with the other three as well. & have met them all and respect them. there. were. harmful. lyrics.”

(Kehlani/Twitter)

Rita Ora’s new tune involves its singers explicitly embracing sapphic love, with lines like “sometimes I just wanna kiss girls, girls, girls” and “I put the lion in the cage and then I laid with her all night.”

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 08: Rita Ora and Charli XCX attend Variety Power of Young Hollywood at TAO Hollywood on August 8, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
(Frazer Harrison/Getty)

In her verse, Ora sings: “Her name is Lara, we learned a lot of / How to do it, like we do it, like we wanna / We just know.”

She adds: “I ain’t one-sided, I’m open-minded / I’m fifty-fifty and I’m never gonna hide it.”

BERLIN, GERMANY - APRIL 12: Rita Ora performs on stage during the Echo Award show at Messe Berlin on April 12, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
(Andreas Rentz/Getty)

When asked about these lyrics by People magazine, Ora resisted attempts to get her to define her sexuality, but seemed to say she was equally attracted to different genders.

“I knew people were going to look into it like that,” said the 27-year-old.

“I definitely said it because I can — and it was one of those things where, if I was 50/50… I’m not saying I’m ’70/30.'”

Referring to the line “I’m 50/50, and I’m not gonna hide it,” the star explained: “I’m not hiding what I am, who I am, if I wanna do this, if I wanna do that. That’s just how it’s gonna be.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 10: Rita Ora visits Kiss FM Studio's on May 10, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)
(Stuart C. Wilson/Getty)

“For me and my career, this is definitely the most open-booked I’ve ever been, if that’s a word.

“I’m definitely an open book with this record, and I’m really proud of the support I’ve got with my fellow collaborators,” the “Anywhere” singer continued.

When asked directly if she was bisexual or sexually fluid, Ora refused to label herself.

INDIO, CA - APRIL 14: Rita Ora stops by the Absolut Openhouse Tent at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival to Celebrate Acceptance with Fans, Featuring New Song, "Proud" on April 14, 2018 in Indio, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Absolut)
(Jesse Grant/Getty)

“I think the way… If people look at it like that, it’s very narrow-minded,” she said, “and I don’t think that’s what this record is. I don’t think that that even matters.”

Ora’s comments follow other singers’ decisions to open up about their sexuality while not explicitly defining themselves.

In March, Demi Lovato explained her sexual orientation, saying: “I’m very fluid, and I think love is love.

SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 17: Demi Lovato performs at Y100's Jingle Ball 2017 at BB&T Center on December 17, 2017 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for iHeartMedia)
Demi and dancer (Gustavo Caballero/Getty)

“You can find it in any gender.

“I like the freedom of being able to flirt with whoever I want.”

And in April, British pop star Anne-Marie revealed that she was attracted to women.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 11: Anne-Marie performs during Free Radio Live held at Genting Arena on November 11, 2017 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images)
(Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty)

The rising star, who just released her album Speak Your Mind, said: “I’ve never ever just been attracted to men. I’ve never just been attracted to women.

She added: “I’ve never felt the need to tell anyone that I’m bisexual. I don’t feel like I am.

“I just feel like I’m attracted to who I like.”

More: bebe rexha, bisexual, cardi b, Charli XCX, entertainment, girls, Music, Rita Ora, UK

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