Halsey wants to make sure there’s no mistaking that the song “Strangers,” her collaboration with Fifth Harmony’s Lauren Jauregui, is about two women longing for one another. In the first verse alone, she uses the female pronoun four times, once in every line, making it impossible to miss, skim over or interpret as anything other than what it was meant to be: a strong, unapologetic acknowledgement of lesbian and bisexual women.
By normalizing a same-sex relationship beyond what happens in the bedroom, this track is anything but familiar. Even so, it wouldn’t feel out of place on any Spotify playlist filled with other tracks about love. They’re not trying to be sexy. They’re not trying to turn men on with the imagery of two women being together. They’re not doing it for show. They’re simply singing about the end of a relationship the way that any other musician would, not licking their lips at the idea of making out with a friend at a pool party on a dare.
While Halsey and Jauregiu aren’t the first people in popular music to use same-sex pronouns, they join a very small group of people who have. One of the best examples that comes to mind is Mary Lambert’s “She Keeps Me Warm,” which was famously sampled in Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love.”
This isn’t to discredit other LGBTQ artists who make music that most can assume is directed toward another man or woman. It’s to recognize that two mainstream artists didn’t simply scratch the surface — they dove all the way in and did a duet on a same-sex love song and that deserves to be celebrated. What’s even more impressive is that this track wasn’t hidden at the end of the album or on a B-side. It hit radio and debuted on the Billboard Hot 100.
It’s a groundbreaking track that should be recognized for completely stepping out of the box and telling the story of lesbian and bisexual women in love, one that is often either ignored, merely hinted at, or used as a tool to sexualize the experience of same-sex couples instead of digging deeper.
Aside from the lyrical content, the song itself is superb. Jauregui has never gotten to showcase her cool, raspy vocals quite like this before. It’s not necessarily a bubbly song, but instead laced with cool, dark synths and a beautifully catchy hook. It’s a damn great pop song.
Halsey, who has been out as bisexual for the entirety of her career, and Jauregui, who came out as bisexual in an open letter following Donald Trump’s election, unapologetically deliver “Strangers” with undeniable authenticity and give a voice to a group of people that rarely has one in the mainstream. And that’s more than just important – it’s absolutely necessary.