Hayley Kiyoko & Kehlani Call Out “Girls” For Being “Tone-Deaf” & “Harmful”

Mike Wass | May 14, 2018 12:24 pm
Rita Ora's Star-Studded 'Girls'
Rita Ora teams up with Cardi B, Charli XCX and Bebe Rexha on new single, 'Girls.'

UPDATE: Rita Ora has issued an apology. “I am sorry how I expressed myself in my song.” Read her full statement below.

Rita Ora’s star-studded “Girls,” which features the mouthwatering lineup of Cardi B, Bebe Rexha and Charli XCX, was supposed to be the female empowerment anthem of 2018. Instead, it has been accused of being “tone deaf” and “harmful” by two of music’s most prominent out artists. The issue is the flippant way it treats bisexuality in the lyrics. “I ain’t one-sided, I’m open-minded,” Rita declares at the beginning of the song. “I’m fifty-fifty and I’m never gonna hide it.” That clunky rhyme has nothing on Cardi’s eyebrow-raising verse.

It’s not too surprising then, that Hayley Kiyoko (affectionately known as Lesbian Jesus to fans) called the song out in an open letter. “It’s important for us artists to use our platforms to move the cultural needle forward, not backwards,” she began. “I fully support other artists who freely express themselves and applaud male and female artists who are opening up more and more about their sexual identities. But every so often there come certain songs with messaging that is just downright tone-deaf, which does more harm than good for the LGBTQ+ communities.”

“It’s the lack of consideration behind these lyrics that really get to me,” she continues. “I don’t need to drink wine to kiss girls; I’ve loved women my entire life. This type of message is dangerous because it completely belittles and invalidates the very pure feelings of an entire community.” Her parting message? “We can and should do better.” Those sentiments were echoed by Kehlani. “Every artist on the song is fantastic, and very much loved and supported by me… by all of us,” she tweeted. “But this isn’t about talent. It’s about choice.”

“Hate to be THAT guy but there were many awkward slurs, quotes, and moments that were like ‘word? word,'” the R&B star added. “And don’t make this personal. 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. period.” As yet, none of the women featured on “Girls” have responded. It should be noted that six of the song’s nine co-writers are men. See Hayley and Kehlani’s comments below.

Hayley Kiyoko’s open letter:

Kehlani’s tweets:

Rita Ora’s apology:

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