When I heard M.I.A. was performing at the Superbowl halftime show it was almost compelling enough to get me to tune in for that oh-so-overblown of American past-times. I didn’t, partly because I knew if there was anything interesting to see it’d be all over YouTube before you can say YouTube.
Sure enough, the most talked about aspect of the Super Bowl this year — besides Clint Eastwood’s ode to American sticktoitiveness — was M.I.A.’s middle finger. It doesn’t sound very interesting on the surface but if there’s one thing M.I.A.’s really good at, it’s being controversial, and with one tiny little gesture she was able to whirl media spin rooms into a frenzy.
Meanwhile, M.I.A.s new video for her track Bad Girls had already been generating some controversy of its own. Whether it’s for vapid lyrics, or stereotypical Arab imagery, not everyone gives the track or the video a +1. But I tend to agree with this assessment in Albawaba In Defence of MIA’s ‘Bad Girl’ Arab-Bashing. Here’s an excerpt:
Bad Girls is surely not something new in the pop-world with Madonna and many before singing vacuous lyrics on ‘material’ feisty or just ‘naughty’ girl types. If ‘bad girls’ on this occasion signifies gun-touting or even, in being strewn over, and in, cars, criminal, girls in a country that prohibits them from driving (while filmed in Morocco it is distinctly meant to represent Saudi Arabia), then the video presents a distinct challenge to the stereotype of Arab subjugated women.”
Anyway, I find it to be a compelling piece of pop with an underlying sense of rebellion that invokes the kind of discussion which brings me back to the heyday of Public Enemy. It’s beautifully crafted in a way that truly paints M.I.A. as a bad girl in the eyes of both the east and the west. What’s your take?
The drawback for me was that I couldn’t easily find an instrumental version of the bangin’ beat by Timbaland protege Danja, so I decided to make one through the magic of editing.
And while I was at it I whipped up a little mashup featuring another of my favorite female vocalists, Yukimi Nagano from Little Dragon.