At first listen, it's easy to discern that Rita Ora's "Girls" featuring Cardi B, Bebe Rexha and Charli XCX is a major bop, in terms of its catchy, melodic rhythm. However, the song's lyrical content has come under fire from some fans and fellow singers, who felt the tune was an exploitation of the LGBTQ+ community. Cardi B responded to the "Girls" backlash on Tuesday, May 15, while opening up about her sexuality in a post on Twitter.
It goes without saying that Cardi's contribution to "Girls" was one of the most highly anticipated and marveled aspects of the song, due to her current status as the music industry's "it" girl. Despite the excitement surrounding the song's release, the lyrical content of Cardi's verse was met with mixed reviews when it dropped on Friday, May 11. In the song, Cardi rapped:
"Now I could be your lipstick, just for one night (one night)...
I steal your b*tch, have her down with the scissor
Tonight, I don't want a dog, I want a kitten (eoooaaawww)
I might French a girl from Great Britain"
In terms of narrative, plenty viewed the project as the perfect summer track, with some even deeming it a "bisexual anthem." However, there were others who felt that the track's message actually trivialized bisexuality and caused more harm than good.
Openly addressing the topic, Cardi took to Twitter to apologize and share details about her past with fans. She explained,
"Listen to 'GIRLS' by Rita Ora ft me @BebeRexha @charli_xcx .We never try to cause harm or had bad intentions with the song .I personally myself had experiences with other woman...with a lot of woman ! I though the song was a good song and i remember my experience ."
Revealing that the situation has become a learning process for her, the "Be Careful" rapper continued in a separate tweet:
"I know i have use words before that i wasn’t aware that they are offensive to the LGBT community .I apologize for that .Not everybody knows the correct 'terms' to use.I learned and i stopped using it."
Prior to Cardi's response, recording artist Hayley Kiyoko spoke out on Instagram on May 11, writing that the song “fuels the male gaze while marginalizing the idea of women loving women.” Kiyoko also noted, “I know this wasn’t the intention of the artists on the song, but it’s the lack of consideration behind these lyrics that really gets me."
Pointing out similar sentiments, "Distraction" singer Kehlani shared on Twitter that she thought the lyrics felt "harmful." She went on to explain that while she has no personal issue with any of the singers featured on the track, she didn't "think certain quotes weren’t progressive."
In addition to Cardi's apology, Ora also apologized to anyone who may have felt "hurt" by the song's content. On Monday, May 14, Ora released a statement on Twitter, which read in part:
“Girls was written to represent my truth and is an accurate account of a very real and honest experience in my life. I have had romantic relationships with women and men throughout my life and this is my personal journey. … I am sorry how I expressed myself in my song has hurt anyone. I would never intentionally cause harm to other LGBTQ+ people or anyone.”
She closed her statement by thanking fans while pledging to further contribute to the LGBTQ+ community. Ora explained, “Looking forward, I hope that continue 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."
During a interview with People ahead of the song's release, Ora revealed that she drew inspiration from Katy Perry's 2008 breakout hit "I Kissed a Girl," sharing:
"It was really inspired by one of my favorite songs: 'I Kissed a Girl' by Katy Perry. That was the first song anyone heard of Katy Perry’s, and it was just such a statement; it was so fun. I wanted to do something that was in that lane."
While some were upset, there were also some fans who have either backed the artists or accepted their apologies.
Neither Bebe Rexha nor Charli XCX have yet to publicly comment on the topic.
As responses to the song have become a huge topic of conversation, Cardi B. and Rita Ora's apologies can hopefully help open a conversation that leads to a better understanding in the near future.