Reminiscent of Jesse J’s “Bang Bang” or “Lady Marmalade” from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack, “Girls” showcases each vocalist’s distinctive style, from Rexha’s nasal coo to Cardi’s hilarious assertions (“Tonight I don’t want a dog/ I want a kitten”), to the way XCX’s breathy alto bobs under Ora’s weave.
“I actually spent time with each of them separately,” Ora tells Rolling Stone about why she sought out these specific singers. Ora is calling from her tour bus, en route to Glasgow, Scotland where she opens her sold-out European Girls Tour Friday night. “I was really inspired by these girls, their stories, and I respected their sound and their vision with their own stuff.
“I was infatuated by [Cardi’s] whole persona,” she adds. “How she turned her life around. I just was really respecting her hustle; seeing how much she really didn’t change for anybody – and now she’s broken records and is having a family. With Bebe, I’ve always loved her songwriting and we’re from the same country so it was like, we have to do something together. Well, she’a from Albania and I’m from Kosovo, so we’re like neighbors.” She laughs.
“Girls,” Ora says, is her interpretation of everything from the Spice Girls to “Marmalade” to Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl.” But when Ora’s with her actual friends, she steps out to more old-school divas like Donna Summer and Tina Turner. “‘Private Dancer’ is the perfect song to feel sexy to,” Ora says excitedly about the Turner hit. “When that song comes on, I literally get on a table and pretend like I’m somebody’s stripper.”
“Girls” is the fourth single from Ora’s second album (and first stateside single) after a two-year hiatus. Her recent singles include the Ed Sheeran-penned “Your Song” and “Anywhere.” Ora also wrote “Lonely Together,” which appeared on Avicii’s last EP, Avīci (01). Released last August, it would be the Swedish DJ’s last song before he died of self-inflicted wounds at age 28 on April 28th. Ora became emotional onstage during a moment of silence honoring the late DJ before performing “Lonely Together” at a European festival set.