I Don’t Wanna Live For Tomorrow

To call M.I.A. a political artist is to underplay things a little. Equally 2010’s Born Free is less a protest song, more an insurrection, built around clamorous beat, a distorted two note Suicide sample and Maya’s chanted vocal.

Born Free

The video that accompanied it was a nine minute film depicting the genocide of red haired people, widely seen as standing in for the treatment of Tamil men in Sri Lanka. It’s here. But you’ll want to see this too, live on the Late Show with David Letterman, a revolutionary vanguard of M.I.A.s, backing singers in burqas and Martin Rev from Suicide beating up the keyboard. That’s how you do TV performance.


We Pack And Deliver Like UPS Trucks

Another Clash sampling delight, possibly the pick of the bunch, is M.I.A.’s masterpiece Paper Planes. Producer Diplo sampled Mick Jones’ guitars from Straight To Hell, bent them about a little and allowed M.I.A. to do her thing. The gunshots and cash registers on the chorus are perfect and the song is a blast from start to finish.

The DFA remix is alright too.

Paper Planes (DFA Remix)


Galang was the first M.I.A. song I heard- I heard it on TV, M.I.A. performing it at a festival. The TV appearance was really good- dramatic and fiery and full of it. The recorded version (off her first album Arular) is pretty good too. You can, if it catches you in the wrong mood, think ‘this is just chanting while a drum machine on a laptop and a computer game play at the same time’. But that would be missing the point. This is the sound of new (back then), coming right at you.

Galang came out in 2005 which makes this ten years old. Ten years. Where does the time go? etc. M.I.A. followed it up a couple of years later with Paper Planes which is as good as anything anyone has done in the last decade.


You Call Glastonbury Glasto…

…You’d like to go there someday
When they’ve put up the gun towers
To keep the hippies away.

So said Half Man Half Biscuit’s Nigel Blackwell and judging by the bits I’ve seen on the telly this weekend it looks like it’s happened. Most of the footage made Glastonbury look like a gap year training camp.

I saw a couple of highlights along with some shockers (Metallica- how much could you stand? I managed 93 seconds). I think the girls won.

M.I.A. resplendent in gold and with a whole forward line of rappers and singers blowing it up on Friday night. That sample from Straight To Hell and those gunshots and cash registers clanging out over rural Somerset are hard to beat.

Edit: This video, uploaded by the BBC onto their own Youtube channel, has now been removed by themselves. Apparently someone was wearing a t-shirt with a political slogan they don’t like. No to censorship, yeah? Last night there was still 20 minutes worth of her set at their own website– confusing huh? Paper Planes starts around  13 minutes in.

The day after Warpaint brought their dreamy, bass led groove to the fields. Their album is sounding good again after a month or two away from it. You have to stop looking for the songs and let their sound wash over you.

Goldfrapp, strobe-lit and black clad, a sexy electro-glam stomp.

I also watched Blondie doing Atomic at some point while reading the paper on Saturday morning. I am sorry to report it was dreadful.



My Chain Hits My Chest

I do like M.I.A. The new single Bad Girls is pretty good but it’s the video that’s causing all the fuss. Well, you try filing your nails while riding on the side of a car that’s up on two wheels. It’s a darn sight better than the limp Madonna collaboration as well. There’s a remix by Stereo Heroes you can download at Soundcloud which sounds like it was remixed while wandering through a demonstration of powertools at B & Q.

M.I.A. ‘Jimmy’

M.I.A. is the sort of pop star we need- outspoken, multi-cultural and hook laden pop songs, Clash samples and gun shots (Paper Planes), Bollywood strings (Jimmy), Suicide sampling hard hitting songs with controversial videos (Born Free), political, with a dad who really was an on-the-run freedom fighter, journalist baiting- the list could go on. That she’s stunningly attractive doesn’t hurt either.

I first saw her on TV on a late night Glastonbury show a few years back. She was in the dance tent, in camouflage, doing Galang. It sounded fantastic. Her new album /\/\/\Y/\ comes out next month, preceeded by the brilliant Born Free (was it a single? Do singles exist?) a while back, which had the video banned by youtube due to scenes showing American redheads being rounded up and shot by the army. Born Free’s been posted up in loads of places, so I’m not putting it up here. If you’ve not heard it go and find it, or watch the video at her own site. Her last album Kala featured Paper Planes, one of the best songs of the last few years, but that’s been posted everywhere also. Instead you’re getting this, which is equally great. Jimmy is a cover of a Bollywood song Jimmy Jimmy Aaja by Parvati Khan, although M.I.A.’s version features new lyrics refering to Congo and Rwanda. Done in a 70s disco style with swooping Bollywood strings it’s an upbeat modern politidisco classic.