Pop music has historically been a pretty heteronormative space, but Halsey and Lauren Jauregui are hoping to change that. They just dropped their new (very good) song “Strangers,” and it directly addresses their ex-girlfriends. What do we mean by this? Just take a look at some of the lyrics.
“She doesn’t kiss me on the mouth anymore / ‘Cause it’s more intimate than she thinks we should get,” Halsey says on one verse. “She doesn’t call me on the phone anymore / She’s never listening, she says it’s innocent,” Lauren sings on another. Yes, those are female pronouns you’re seeing (and hearing), which isn’t a first in pop music—Miley Cyrus has a song on her Dead Petz album about female-female intimacy, for example—but it’s certainly still rare.
Slowly but surely, queer stories are becoming more mainstream. Television is leading the race with dozens of amazing shows that revolve around LGBTQ+ characters. Movies trail way behind in second place. (Yes, Beauty and the Beast moved the dial slightly forward with LeFou, but big-budget films are still very straight.) Mainstream music, however, has barely left the starting line. Pop’s idea of inclusive songwriting is Katy Perry’s faux-lesbian tune “I Kissed a Girl” or the double entendres in Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face,” but those aren’t telling true queer narratives. If anything, they’re using the “taboo” factor many people (wrongly) still associate with homosexuality to sell more records. It’s a reductive shock tactic.
Which is why it’s so refreshing to hear a track like “Strangers”—especially from Jauregui, who has the ability to influence a legion of young people as a member of Fifth Harmony.. The song resonates more than “I Kissed a Girl,” “Poker Face,” or Britney Spears’ “Hold It Against Me”—which we just learned is about Perry—because it’s coming from two women who’ve talked openly about their sexuality. (Both identify as bisexual.) Halsey and Jauregui aren’t using homosexuality to spark controversy: They’re simply speaking their truths.
Listen to “Strangers” for yourself, below. It’s a total jam.
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