Rita Ora has basically made a career out of baffling people - according to science, about half of all articles about Rita Ora are actually about why Rita Ora is a person people write articles about at all. Rita Ora, towering over London in leering CGI; Rita Ora, one degree from Kevin Bacon; Rita Ora, actually Caucasian; yes, it's difficult to understand Rita Ora.
Rita Ora, dropping a few K at the last minute to have an illegal 30th birthday during a global pandemic. This tipped people over the edge, worldwide. Who, exactly, does she think she is? How did she think she was going to get away with it? Rita, on sordid CCTV, fur and crop top lit by streetlights for her big three-zero - a particular flavour of loopy. But I'm fairly sure I know what happened here. A pandemic might make you feel mad, lockdowns might make you lash out - but none of it matches the sheer existential nightmare of turning 30. Shortly before her birthday, still an innocent 29, Rita reflected on her 20s: "You have to learn, and, of course, you make mistakes. I think I now look back at my 20s as a lesson." She said she was looking forward to celebrating with just her parents. I truly believe she believed herself.
I think about Rita, waking up on the day of her 30th: her eyes adjusting to the cold, pale light of that winter morning and, then, the realisation - it's today. She thought she would feel different, that this birthday morning she would be an evolved Rita, a Rita who really is happy to spend the night at home celebrating with her parents.
She brushes her teeth, looks in the mirror - she feels that familiar urge, the drive for chaos. She is 30. As she sits on the side of her bed for 40 minutes, wrapped in a towel, she considers what's happening to her - there's that core of deeply engrained cultural norms, hangovers from the olden days, that says she should by now be the happy mother of three bouncing (legitimate) babies, wrapped inside a layer of 80s' have-it-all Working Girl shoulder-pad feminism that says she should be at the top of her career, occupier of the corner office by 30. She's cocooned by a fragile shell of millennial allow-yourself-to-be-where-you-are self-careism that she, along with every other girl turning 30 this pandemic, has been unavoidably mainlining for years. Really, none of these satisfy now. By this stage in her life, she has consumed directly or indirectly approximately 600 listicles about today - '30 things I learned before turning 30', an article written by Taylor Swift; 'Seven things I wish someone told me before turning 30'; '13 important things to let go of before you hit 30'. Most emphasise what a big deal it isn't, turning 30. It's an opportunity to just let go and be yourself.
Rita said in that pre-birthday interview: "I am the woman that I want to be", something that is generally considered gauche before 29. But even after all those listicles, all those celeb interviews that she was merely aping, she was hoping if she talked the talk, she could make it come true,
Rita is not the woman she wants to be. She knows this now, for certain, the morning of her 30th birthday. And she is not a wife, doesn't have a baby, but not, she possibly thinks to herself, because she never wanted these things. She still worries about her body, what people think about her. Her last No. 1 was in 2014. She has not reached DGAF, like the internet told her she would today.
Her parents call over for a Champagne breakfast. It's quite boring. Screw it, Rita thinks, and picks up her phone. The thrum of chaos beats louder. Create new group: Rita's Dirty 30.