This song is first and foremost a banger. Let’s just lay that down. This incredible jagged guitar lick that makes me want to kick down a door, juxtaposed with the breathy synthy sundrenched vocals that Demi is doing – it is weird, perfect alchemy. I’ve had it on repeat since it dropped. If this is what the next album is gonna be like, this summer is going to be sparkles and Lime-a-ritas and mirrored sunglasses and – most importantly – gay as hell. GAY AS HELL. Let’s dive in.
This song is everything I wanted “I Kissed A Girl” to be, back when “I Kissed A Girl” was all we had. Hope my boyfriend doesn’t mind? Just wanna try you on? Katy, what about those of us who kiss girls and don’t regret it, who want to kiss more girls? What about those of us who haven’t kissed a girl but know that we only wanna kiss girls for the rest of our lives? What about those of us who kissed a girl and aren’t sure how they feel about it? Where are they in “I Kissed A Girl”? Like, okay. I know that everything doesn’t have to be representative of everyone all the time, but it was just so disappointing to me to hear I kissed a girl and I liked it in the same song as you’re my experimental game. It’s hard enough to understand your own sexuality without being told that it’s just for fun, an experiment, a phase. And for some people it is! And that is fine! But. There are ways to try to understand yourself – call them experiments or not – without sort of denying your experiment partner any agency. Does that make sense?
“Cool for the Summer” doesn’t use pronouns, first and foremost, which I truly love. It’s first person to second person, fully contextual, who is I and who are you is entirely dependent on who you are when you’re listening. It’s also a lot more honest about Demi’s intentions, which I think is admirable. “I’m your body type,” she says. Tell me what you want, what you like. I’m a little curious. That doesn’t feel like an experiment, that feels like exploration. That feels like electricity, that breathless moment when you look at a girl and realize that you want her, not as a friend but as something more, something different, something unexpected. Even if they judge, I’ll do the time. She’s into this girl, whoever she is, but she’s asking permission. Take me down into your paradise. She’s letting her know that she’s new at this, but isn’t everyone at some point? It’s just something that we wanna try. She’s not making any pronouncements, she’s not putting either of them in a box. Is she gay? Is she bi? “Cool for the Summer” isn’t telling us, and I think that’s intentional. She’s interested in someone – that is what we know, and for us to want more than that isn’t fair. She might not even be directing it at a girl! I mean, I personally really feel like she is (cherry??? the CHERRY. DEMI. PLEASE) but I can’t prove it! And that means we can each have it as our own, which is beautiful.
“I Kissed A Girl” missed the mark because it made a fling about sexuality rather than temporality, which I think “Cool for the Summer” avoids magnificently. What I mean when I say that is that I always felt like Katy was singing about trying being interested in girls on, and I feel like Demi is singing about being genuinely attracted to someone and wanting a sexual relationship with them. Like, cool for the summer implies that the relationship will end, but – at least to me – it doesn’t imply that that’s because it’s a relationship based on a phase, or an experiment, something to be tried on and discarded. It’s just because sometimes your summer fling is a summer fling, regardless of who it is. Don’t tell your mother – kiss one another – die for each other. Honestly, I’ll take it.