Pride and the LGBTQ rights movement as a whole often feel dominated by gay men, with some women saying they don’t feel comfortable or welcome at Pride events. It’s often an uphill battle for women who are attracted to women to be taken seriously amid stereotypes that their sexuality is a phase or a performance. In her latest single, “Girls,” Canadian pop singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Betta Lemme challenges these narratives by celebrating those who love women romantically, sexually, and otherwise.
The concept for the song was born in 2018, when Lemme and her co-writers Jenn Decilveo (FLETCHER, Miley Cyrus, Marina) and Jordan Riley (Dua Lipa, Mabel, Sigrid) began talking about their first crushes. For Lemme, who identifies as sexually fluid, it was a tie: David Bowie and Princess Diana. Reflecting the proclivities of Lemme’s younger self, the song is written from the perspective of a young woman realizing she’s “in love with girls.”
“This was without a doubt one of my favorite writing sessions,” Lemme recalls. “Jenn is a brilliant lyricist and producer. Jordan was quiet, adorable, and full of heart. His background singing in church choirs gave the spirit of this song these godly soulful moments while capturing the cheekiness of my confession.”
The single was also loosely based on a letter Lemme wrote to her mom as a kid about the concerns she had for her future, including the fact that her sexual orientation fell outside society’s norms. “Realizing and identifying with fluidity at a young age and coming from a very traditional family, I wanted to give her a heads up on what both of our futures entailed,” she remembers. “I guess you can say I was a meticulously organized and anxious kid. I can confidently say nothing has changed.”
Lemme opens “Girls” with playful verses about realizing she’s in love with a woman and grappling with what that means, then grows increasingly confident over the course of the song, wondering, “Why can’t we just love who we love and have a good time?” The snappy percussion and dreamy synths give the track a fun, celebratory vibe that sounds like it’s made for dancing to during Pride parties (and parties all year round).
“I wanted the listener to feel like they were about to be in on a secret that’s presented with butterflies and confetti, and leave them with a smile,” she says.
Through her lyrics, particularly the infectious, repetitious chorus — “girls, girls, think I’m in love with girls” — Lemme hopes to destigmatize the act of saying you’re in love with the same gender — for women, particularly. “I find it baffling that it’s controversial to say the words ‘I’m in love with girls,'” she says.
In fact, Lemme’s desire for more people to unabashedly discuss their love for women extends beyond romantic or sexual feelings. “Regardless of whether that is of admiration, respect, love, or attraction, the act of loving women at all is still hard to grasp for some,” she explains. “I hope this song is so catchy that literally everyone around the entire world starts singing about how much they love and appreciate women and girls.”
Lemme released her first EP Bambola in 2018, followed by a string of singles, and is gearing up to release her second EP later this summer. It includes “Girls,” her recent singles “Cry” and “Ce Soir,” and several not-yet-released tracks. “Cry” is full of electronic elements and catchy repeated lyrics reminiscent of ’90s dance tunes, while “Ce Soir” is sassy and poppy, with high angelic harmonies.
Influences ranging from Lady Gaga to Abba are evident in the danceable sounds and lyrical themes. All in all, Lemme considers the EP to be about “the dangerously delicious perils of fantasizing, celebrating catharsis whilst relinquishing shame, moments of talking (or in my case, dancing) yourself off the ledge, as well as the duality of wanting to enjoy life but sometimes not knowing how to.”
Despite the lighthearted nature of her songs, Lemme feels the heaviness of some of the subjects she sings about, particularly those relating to marginalized identities. She encourages LGBTQ people who are struggling and need a listening ear to reach out to the Trevor Project, and as far as her own role goes, she hopes that listeners gain strength from her music.
“The highlights of my career are genuinely the moments when listeners reach out and tell me that their music has helped them through a difficult time, helped them feel less alone, or even made them feel confident,” she says. “On days when I question the humanity in what can be an often gnarly and insidious industry, it’s messages and joy from listeners across the globe that literally fill my spirit up with strength and patience to continue.”
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