Karol G’s “Contigo” Aches With the Longing of a Thousand Sapphic Suns

So first things first — in case you missed it, as I almost did if it had been for a late night scroll across my Instagram feed yesterday — Karol G, Colombian superstar, released a new single with EDM DJ Tiësto. “Contigo” (translation: “With You”) is a banger. In and of itself, that is not necessarily Autostraddle relevant news, but the music video for “Contigo” features queer Puerto Rican rapper Young Miko as Karol G’s love interest.

“Contigo” borrows its inflection from Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love,” so you already know that Karol G’s refrain on the chorus positively aches. She laments over and over “no quiero vida si no es contigo,” that “I don’t want life without you.” She’s become consumed, “la foto mental no la puedo borrar, qué me hiciste tú que no puedo soltar?” (“The picture in my mind I can’t erase, what did you do to me so I can’t be released?”). It’s pretty standard fair for dramatic young sapphics in love. Replaying the moment when you used to hold her hand until you’ve gone out of your mind, for better or for worse, tracks. Autostraddle didn’t recently publish an entire playlist dedicated to Sapphic Yearning for nothing.

That constant hum of desire that runs throughout “Contigo” is only elevated by its music video. Young Miko holds Karol G’s hands like they are her most treasured possession, the couple dances around their apartment and drink beers, they lay on the floor together mixed up in their Polaroid memories, they play video games, tattoo each other, cry in the shower. The color palette is straight out of Euphoria, which probably sounds like a swipe but I can’t find myself able to snark. It’s loving, powerful, and mournful, somehow all at once.

Through every moment of “Contigo,” Karol G and Young Miko burn. So much so that this morning there’s already rumors circulating in tabloids that Karol G full-on pulled a Kehlani and is dating Young Miko off camera as well as on. I don’t necessarily believe that’s true (to the best of our knowledge at this moment, Karol G doesn’t identify as queer). But those rumors are particularly fraught when placed against a twin conversation growing online right now, accusing Karol G of queer-baiting for releasing a queer love story at all as a (supposedly) straight artist.

Listen, we all know that online discourse thrives in black and white. Either something is good, or its bad. And I am not going to move the needle on those extremes with a quick 500 word write up on a pop music video. I am not even going to try. But I will be the abuelita of the internet (errr, maybe the hopefully-not-too-old-yet titi) and remind everyone once again that we are using queer-baiting wrong. Yes, language evolves and changes, but queer-baiting was designed to talk about fictional writing tropes wherein television executives would code characters as gay to lure gay viewership, with no intention to pay off in actual gay actions.

Queer-baiting does not mean we get to police who is or isn’t gay in their actual lives (though if La Bichota wants to give us an exclusive, she knows where to find me). It’s not meant to apply to storytelling that involves direct and explicit queer love stories, like we are shown here. I’m not going to say “Contigo” is groundbreaking, though arguably one of the largest pop stars in the world having a Latina love interest in her new music video could be seen that way. I will say that I loved watching it. I hope that some teenage Latinas with Karol G lockscreens on their phone and who are sitting in a closeted Discord server right now get to play this shit back 500x because they absolutely deserve it.

And if you watched two Latinas fall in love with promises of not wanting to live life without the other, against one of the most infectious beats of the year, and all you could think about was if it counted as “queer-baiting”… you maybe missed the point?

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Carmen Phillips

Carmen is Autostraddle's Editor-in-Chief and a Black Puerto Rican femme/inist writer. She claims many past homes, but left the largest parts of her heart in Detroit, Brooklyn, and Buffalo, NY. There were several years in her early 20s when she earnestly slept with a copy of James Baldwin’s “Fire Next Time” under her pillow. You can find her on twitter, @carmencitaloves.

Carmen has written 699 articles for us.

9 Comments

  1. Not me checking back this evening to see if someone wrote about this song that I’ve been listening to nonstop and the video I have watched multiple times over. Sometimes you just need the catchiest burning love song.

    Also thank you for continuing to point out that queerbaiting is a media criticism term, not for speculation and condemnation about real people who have not stated anything and don’t owe the public any confirmation or denial.

    • You have no idea how happy it made me to read this: “Not me checking back this evening to see if someone wrote about this song” (yesterday got a little hectic and this piece almost didn’t make the cut!!! Thank you for the reminder about why it’s always important and necessary.)

      I also cannot stop playing the song over and over!! I’ve been a Karol G casual up until now, but I think Carolina really got me with this one!

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