demi lovato's queer "cool for the summer" song gets a non-queer video

c'mon, take that bite

Photo Courtesy of Island Records

Demi Lovato’s peg for song of the summer, appropriately titled “Cool for the Summer,” is an ode to sexual fluidity. More specifically, it’s about Lovato wanting to get it on with another girl. “Got a taste for the cherry / I just need to take a bite,” she coos before an explosive, guitar-laden chorus that, yes, feels reminiscent of another pop song dedicated to girls kissing girls. Today, Lovato released the music video for the track, and it doesn’t disappoint, but it somewhat misses the mark. 

Like Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl” video, Lovato surrounds herself with a bunch of women. They party with and on top of one another, but aside from one quick cut to Lovato reaching for a girl and another fast shot of two girls making out, the video features predominantly heterosexual encounters. It’s odd that a video for a song about same-sex experimentation features none. You’d have to listen to the lyrics to understand the underlying message of the song because the video shies away from it.

Is it too safe? The barsexual experience—i.e., experimenting with the same sex after a few drinks—is normal. The male gaze, for better or worse, encourages it for women. Yet, like in Perry’s version, these encounters are secretive, hush-hush kind of things. “Don’t tell your mother,” Lovato sings in the song. The whole “take me down to your paradise” narrative is kept behind closed doors when it could have been explored onscreen. However, unlike Perry’s track and video, “Cool for the Summer” doesn’t say kissing girls is something good girls don’t do. Rather, Lovato’s expressing a carnal instinct—some physical urge and desire that's very much normal and not shocking. The writhing among her gorgeous friends alludes to it. But if you’re going to put out a track dedicated to bicuriosity, show it. There’s no shame in indulging.