Rita Ora dropped her star-studded single “Girls” on Friday (May 11), and although the lyrics are unabashedly bi-curious, the English songstress — joined by Cardi B, Bebe Rexha and Charli XCX — wants listeners to take them with a grain of salt. Although Ora suggestively serenades, “I ain’t one-sided, I’m open-minded/ I’m 50-50, I ain’t ever gonna hide it,” during the first sing-song verse, she tells Billboard that “Girls” is more about being label-free.
“I just really wanted to show a side of me that just represents freedom and the belief [that you should] really be what you want to be,” Ora says. “It’s not actually that deep. It really is just about that. It’s a free message, and for me, really fun. It’s just a fun record.”
“Girls” is fun indeed, with a lighthearted, explosive chorus that proudly proclaims, “Sometimes I just wanna kiss girls, girls, girls.” The epic pop banger is also an ode to Ora’s love for collaboration.
“Growing up, I was a huge Spice Girls fan,” Ora recalls. “I just loved it when I saw people coming together and doing something that is extra powerful together, rather than separately.”
Considering Cardi’s smash debut album, Rexha’s crossover hit with Florida Georgia Line, and Charli’s current supporting gig on Taylor Swift‘s Reputation Tour, girl power runs strong in this team of ladies. Ora announced the forthcoming single on Twitter last week, naming her collaborators as “powerful women who have inspired [her] so much.”
“I think they all represent such different things, which is why I think this collaboration is so fun and unique from all the others,” Ora explains. “I think that Cardi, obviously, we love and we know very well. She’s a very outspoken, incredible personality. She has a lot to say and has really changed her life around in the space of a year. For me, that’s always so inspiring … I grew to really love her and respect her grind.”
She continues: “Charli I’ve known for so long, and I’ve always loved her individuality and how quirky she always was. She never really changed for anybody, and I really love that about her. Bebe, we became really close because we’re [both Albanian] and were just really proud to finally do something together. I know it’ll make our country proud.”
“Girls” had actually been in the making for a couple of years before its release, and the song went through different lineups before the roster of Charli, Rexha and Cardi was finalized. (Ora has said in other interviews in the past that she also worked with MØ and Starrah on the song.)
“I started working on my album about two years ago, and this was actually one of the first records I wrote. I put it on the back burner for a few, just to give it a rest, but it kept popping up, and I was just like, ‘This is a jam,'” Ora says. “I had the song for so long. [As for] the original lineup, people kind of went into a different musical space, and they just didn’t fit the music anymore, which I completely understand. There were people that heard it, and it did fit them musically, and that was who ended up being on the lineup. You kind of have to respect everyone’s wishes, especially since I had the song for ages.”
In the meantime, Ora hopes fans will take the track’s carefree lyrics to heart.
“I know that people will read it differently,” Ora says. “But the real message is just about freedom and acceptance, and being what you want to be, and it being OK.”
Listen to “Girls” below.