This song has received a lot of flak, for very good reasons: basically, this song was supposed to serve as a sort of LGBT anthem and as Ora’s announcement of her bisexuality, but with lyrics like “red wine, I just wanna kiss girls,” instead turned into another unnecessary sexualization of females in society. Ora has since apologized and explained that Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl,” a lauded track, served as her inspiration. So, why is “Girls” so cringy?
The main, blaring reason here is that “I Kissed a Girl” came out in 2008. That’s 10 years ago. In the midst of a financial crisis and well before the current LGBTQ and #MeToo landscapes, Perry gently prodded the boundaries of sexualization within society.
The more discreet but definitely more important difference is that “I Kissed a Girl” is somewhat innocent: while Perry mentions having a “drink in hand,” most of the song is dedicated to the rather middle-school curiosity of “her cherry chapstick.” “Girls,” on the other hand, centers around “rollin js / kush loving” and “red wine.” Perry’s version gives the impression that she needs a little liquid courage in a time period that was far less accepting of non-cis sexuality, and Ora gives the impression that “girls” (not women), are only fun to fool around with when she’s imbibed.
While I do understand where Ora’s coming from — we’ve all been piss-ass drunk and had the truth come to us — there has to be more forethought from a public figure. I am all about having fun, getting drunk, having sex, smoking weed, whatever, but the problem here is that the “fun” feels inherently tied to the objectification of women, which it shouldn’t be. The goal, obviously, is to eventually have a society where sexual songs can be sung about any gender/anyone and just be about the fun of a sexual experience, but we just aren’t at that point yet.
Where Ora really, truly fails, though, is the line: “and last night, yeah, we got with a dude / I saw him, he was looking at you.” If this song is supposed to be about Ora’s coming-out (a term I hope we can one day abolish when everyone is just free to be their sexuality at all times), why is it “we?” I commend Ora for attempting to take the power back, but, even as a woman, if you’re still objectifying other women, you’re just adding to the problem.
As a biographical song, I honestly do understand where Ora is coming from and completely relate to her experiences and viewpoints, but, again, we just aren’t there as a society yet. Had this song come out in 2028, it (hopefully) would be well-received, but, right now, we need songs about LGBT love, not drunken and high sex. A for effort; Z for execution.