By now, you’ve all listened to Dove Cameron’s new single “Boyfriend” at least once, right?
Good, at least I know we’re on the same page.
Before the release of the song, I had never really cared about Cameron and all I knew about her was that she starred in one of those god-awful Disney Channel shows that my sister binge-watched throughout her childhood.
However, now she’s back and she’s apparently creating a brand new name for herself. And “Boyfriend” is the first step of this process.
The song is honestly really good: rock-sounding yet digestible, it condenses aggressive instrumentals with catchy vocals in just under three minutes. Broadly speaking, the track might be considered the queer female version of Bruno Mars’s “When I Was Your Man” seen from the eyes of “the other woman”, meaning the person who steals somebody else’s partner.
What definitely stands out about the track is the story told in the lyrics: two women–one of them stuck in an unsatisfying, straight relationship–find themselves alone together. Then Dove grabs her lover’s wrist–which she admitted doing in real life as well–and blah blah blah we all know how it goes.
It’s not the first time that a former Disney star tries to revive their career by adopting a more mature narrative to their story and their persona. Think of Miley Cyrus, above all. Think of Demi Lovato and Ariana Grande. And in a way, even though she’s never been a Disney star, think of Billie Eilish.
They all distanced themselves from personae that mostly appealed to teenagers and fully embraced the concept of “female empowerment”, whatever that term means now.
Among the above-mentioned celebrities, I think that Dove Cameron is pushing hard to resemble Billie Eilish the most, especially given her whispered–almost hushed–singing style.
In a way, “Boyfriend” even reminds me of Billie’s single “Lost Cause” even though, while the lyrics of the former song tell the story of how a woman seduced another, the video of the latter, set in a huge mansion, merely shows Billie hosting a girl-only sleepover, with no further depth to the narrative.
Though everyone has their own definition of the word “provocative”, some people might think that Billie and her girls are being sexually provocative to each other, which would hint at some sort of lesbian interaction.
Though internet personalities had mixed reactions regarding Billie’s behavior, some labeled it as queerbaiting. For those who don’t know, queerbaiting is a marketing technique that hints at queer interactions and relationships without actually exploring them; hence, just to attract a section of the population that identifies as queer and wants to see itself represented in the entertainment world.
On the other hand, Cameron once spoke very candidly about her queer identity in an interview with Gay Times. To reinforce her message, she also covered Lil Nas X’s song “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)“, another very recognizable LGBTQ+ anthem.
Connected to the concept of queerbaiting is the term “Performative Bisexuality”, which YouTuber Tee Noir explored in one of her videos. She talks about how some female artists in the late 2000s and the early 2010s often faked being attracted to women to gain popularity, to then simply ditch such narrative once said popularity was achieved. Billie’s move very much resembles this past trend.
Anyhow, I would definitely suggest checking out Cameron’s live performances of “Boyfriend” at major talk shows because they’re all pretty good. Is Dove Cameron pushing to become the female Lil Nas X and raising awareness about female queer identity? We can just wait and see what else she releases this year.
Cover image credits: Dove Cameron by Kristen Jan Wong (People)