New Stuff- Bad Girls

With all due respect to Her Majesty Gaga, MIA is without a doubt the baddest pop star in the world. Her story is legend, educated in England, daughter of a Tamil revolutionary leader in Sri Lanka, gained popularity with the help of international DJ icon Diplo, but we really should take the time to analyze why MIA is so popular.

She can’t sing. That’s for sure. She can’t really rap, either. Her flow is fine and her accented deep voice is part sultry and part terrifying, but her lyrics are rather uninspiring save a few well placed boasts (“I’ve put people on the map/that have never seen a map” she raps on “20 Dollar”).

She’s an excellent performer, but again, it’s hard to see why. She’s not particularly attractive, at least in comparison to, say, The Pussycat Dolls, in an industry where a pretty figure can often overshadow marginal talent (*ahem Nicki Minaj). Her vocal limitations are only exacerbated on stage, and she’s a rather awkward dancer (see: “Galang“). She can pump up a crowd as well as anyone, but her fashion choices are, um, eclectic.

And yet, she is the musical voice of the impoverished in India, the Middle East, and Africa, regardless of how she merits the position. Listening to MIA is exhilarating, fascinating, and enjoyable. Her talent is her ear: her ability to choose stellar beats, ride the rhythm better than most, toss in Strummer and De La Roche type politics, all while maintaining a staggering amount of confidence.

Her newest release is no different. What she says is nothing special. How she says it is. A return to form? Another Kala? We can only hope.

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