Friday, 3 February 2012

M.I.A. - Bad Girls

M.I.A., who will sing alongside Madonna and Nicky Minaj at the Super Bowl on Sunday, has released a video for Bad Girls. It is directed by Romain Gavras, who also directed the controversial video for Born Free. 

Bad Girls has none of the violence that got Born Free banned from youtube, even though it shows a few guns. The video is set somewhere in a Middle Eastern desert at a race meeting. There are plenty of nail biting car stunts and M.I.A. sings one verse atop a tilting car without showing any fear at all. There are also arty shots of a man on horseback and M.I.A. singing with back up dancers dressed in bling and animal print head scarves. There is a party atmosphere and everyone is having a good time. Watch out for the red-haired boy towards the end of the video - a cheeky reference to the Born Free video perhaps?

I love M.I.A.’s videos. They are kitschy and colourful or controversial but always different. When the song was released on Monday, there was little to suggest that the video for it would be as good as it is. It would have been easy to drive a car along a road with a few belly dancers in the back, but instead there is a video full of tricks set in a region of the world which is currently associated with revolution rather that partying.

The song is good even without the video. Produced by Danja, who has also worked with Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake, Bad Girls is slick and atmospheric. The lyrics are repetitive and do not make much sense, but far from being annoying they become a hypnotic mantra. The short sentences are easy to quote. Expect your twitter feed to fill up with gems like “if I go to bed baby can I take you?” and “pull me closer if you think I can hang”.

There is a lot going on under the lyrics - a sultry Arabic style sample, syncopated percussion and just the right amount of bass. I can see the instrumental version of this track being used in lots of other songs. Bad Girls gets into you head and that is the point because once it’s in there it feels like M.I.A. has never been away.

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