Bebe Rexha has weighed in on the “Girls” backlash.
When Rita Ora announced her new single would feature Cardi B, Charli XCX, and Bebe Rexha, “Girls” was shaping as a spectacular moment in pop. We’re talking about this generation’s answer to “Lady Marmalade,” a bona-fide hit and, just maybe, the Song of the Summer.
But it hasn’t panned out that way. Outrage ensured. Artists including Hayley Kiyoko and Kehlani criticized the song and its lyrics, which they said reinforced stereotypes about same-sex attraction simply being a phase.
As Billboard’s Alim Kheraj points out, much of the initial criticism aimed at “Girls” was based on the assumption all the artists involved were straight. Rita Ora and Cardi B both apologized for any offense taken, and they confirmed that they have indeed had relationships with both men and women. Rexha has kept quiet on it all, until now.
Turns out, she’s not bothered by the barbs.
Speaking to EW, Bebe Rexha defended the song and her role on it. “My sexual life is nobody’s business,” she said. “But we’re singing a song about kissing girls and that remains true to who I am. It’s the life that I live and it’s honest to me.”
The singer, songwriter and producer destroyed talk of courting controversy to chase a hit. “That would be pretty f—ed-up,” she added. “And I’d agree with where the critics are coming from [in that case]. Everybody can have their own opinion.”
Rexha also opened up on her sexuality. “The question of whether [the song] was true to us was completely dismissed,” she explained. “People automatically went for the negative instead of saying: ‘Well maybe these girls do kiss girls, maybe Bebe is bi.’ You don’t know about my sexual orientation, so I felt disrespected.” She continued, “I’ve kissed girls, you know what I mean? And I don’t do it because it’s fun or whatever. Do you have to be fully lesbian to put out a song about kissing girls? What if you’re bi? Isn’t the point of being supportive of the LGBTQ community that you can love whoever you want and everything is fluid and non-judgmental?”
Rexha, whose collaboration with Florida Georgia Line “Meant to Be” reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, will release her debut album Expectations on June 22.
This article originally appeared on Billboard.