MIA

M.I.A. is supposed to be a messenger, but the mission of her music is often obscured by critics’ and listeners’ schismatic view of her work. But before her war with the NFL, her allegiance with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, or those goddamn truffle fries, she was a neon prism at the end of a long musical tunnel dominated by what we’ll call “The Bands.” Along with Dipset and DFA, the rapper, née Matangi “Maya” Arulpragasm, was one of the puzzle pieces that began indie rock’s distance from guitar rock and its constantly-evolving fascination with pastiche. She’s been Diplo’s muse, one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Interesting People, and the only person to ever perform on the Grammys while practically about to give birth. But regardless of an astounding number of accomplishments — she’s the first artist to be nominated for an Oscar, Grammy, Brit Award, and the Mercury Prize, so take that, EGOTs — and her ability to craft some of the most interesting pop music of this century, she continues to confound and propel the public. This has conceivably less to do with her interests and inspirations than it does with the fact that people tend to be unsure how to receive those interests and inspirations, particularly because she is so often painted as a humorless solipsist grasping at “ethnic” straws. In a recent piece for Noisey, writer Ayesha A. Siddiqi nailed the realities behind this struggle:

One of the most entertaining and frustrating things about being a fan of M.I.A has been watching white critics struggle to articulate her style while challenging her right to the aesthetic she cultivates. Artists of color aren’t often recognized for their sophistication or intent. Rather, they’re ascribed a “primitive rawness.”

With her synthesis of diverse but connected motifs M.I.A gets dubbed “cut and paste.” Words like “patchwork,” “slapped-together,” and “scotch tape” are regularly used, and that’s from positive reviews. American critics, unsure of the cacophony of identities and experiences M.I.A offers, commonly project their own uncertainties onto her…

Instead of the gloomy faced oppression of “third worlders” waiting for first world sponsorship, she brings us their rhythms, colors, and slang. Instead of the stoic self-seriousness of pop stars with a cause, M.I.A. waxes ironic. And it confuses the hell out of people.

That confusion also hinders people from considering M.I.A. an inquisitive artist with her own agency. In a recent interview with NPR, she spoke about the Super Bowl bird-flip with cheekiness, citing the gesture as one with a religious message but also snickering while delivering the answer. She’s often stripped of that humanity, but when you experience it or accept it, you understand her better.

Nearly a year ago to-date, M.I.A. released an eponymous art book comprised of digital collages, video stills, nail art, and lyrics, among other media. To support it, the Brit-born, Sri Lankan rapper gave a talk at the Museum Of Modern Art offshoot P.S. 1 in Queens. It was right after New York City had been hit with Tropical Storm Sandy, many of residents displaced from their homes due to flooding and electrical outages. The presentation — primarily M.I.A. showing desktop ephemera on four separate MacBooks, each of which were used to craft a different LP — was held in a large tent-like structure in the museum’s garden called the Performance Dome, and she began the talk with, “It’s nice that I can show you my refugee ways,” a winking nod to the city’s circumstances as well as awareness of her own. It was a remarkable moment to witness. Here was a woman who had a years-long nebulous shadow cast upon her dating back to the release of her critically deemed childishly paranoid /\/\/\Y/\ and an accompanying New York Times Magazine profile by Lynn Hirschberg in which the rapper was lambasted for the contrast between her politics and her then-relationship with entrepreneur Benjamin Bronfman and, most famously, that she ate truffle fries during the interview. And in one swift welcome, the reality of her agency, not the portrait of artist as dumb activist, was on display. Now, M.I.A. has released her fourth full-length Matangi. The is album rooted more in spirituality than her previous work but is still indebted to her fascination with the Internet — “I didn’t go to an ashram, I went to Google,” she said about the record’s inspiration in the same talk — and it’s in equal measure as angry, boisterous, and adventurous as her debut Arular.

There’s a lot of material to consider when taking apart M.I.A.’s catalog, including remix EPs and her Piracy Funds Terrorism and Vicki Leekx mixtapes on top of her full-lengths. For this edition of 10 Best Songs, we’ll look at her four LPs Arular, Kala, /\/\/\/\Y/\, and Matangi.

10. “Pull Up The People” (from Arular, 2005)

“Pull Up The People” acts as a starting point for M.I.A.’s critique of the government. While surveillance and privacy issues are of high concern in a lot of her more recent music, poverty reigns over Arular. But what makes this track so great is its sparseness — naked synths loom under calmly delivered rapping, a prime example of how anger and tranquility can meld into power.

9. “Teqkilla” (from /\/\/\Y/\, 2010)

Industrial and dancehall were strange bedfellows before you-know-who made you-know-what, but M.I.A. trail-blazed making the odd combo palatable with “Teqkilla.” But it’s not just her ability to incorporate tinny, off-kilter synths with something both stark and danceable that make it stand out, it’s the lyrical tricks she pulls on the track, too. By implementing booze brands as romantic metaphor, she’s made something that could be misconstrued as superfluous party bunk into an insiders-only track. After she’s dismissed Johnnie Walker, Pernod, Captain Morgan, and Smirnoff, she raps, “When I met Seagrams/ he sent Chivaz [shivers] down my spine/ Got me on the dancefloor/ then we start to wine.” She is, of course, referencing her then-paramour and father of her child Benjamin Bronfman, whose father Edgar Bronfman Jr. is the Seagrams heir. On an album full of maligned experiments, this is one she got especially right.

8. “Bamboo Banga” (from Kala, 2007)

Kala feels like a relic in 2013. A lot of the material has aged poorly, songs like “Bird Flu” and “Boyz” sounding a little bit messy after hearing more of what meticulous soundscapes M.I.A. can construct. But “Bamboo Banga,” with its third-world roll call and Modern Lovers-referencing intro, transcends itself as mission statement for the album and can easily be a centerpiece for her career. It manages to be both propulsive and meditative, shows both her propensity for politics and pop culture, and is the perfect preamble for the LP with her most explosive hit ever.

7. “Born Free” (from /\/\/\Y/\, 2010)

In the M.I.A. and Suicide Venn diagram, decay falls in the middle. Both tend to favor stony vocals and festering synths, so her deployment of the band’s “Ghost Rider” for “Born Free” is an unrivaled example of her sample-selection excellence. At the time of release, noise-pop duo Sleigh Bells were her proteges and here teacher becomes student only to become teacher again. And despite her grainy yelp-rapping, the message is still clear: “I throw this shit in your face/ when I see ya/ cuz I got something to say.”

6. “Bring The Noize” (from Matangi, 2013)

M.I.A.’s no rappity-rapper but on “Bring The Noize” she sprays ferocious mouthfuls and delivers her closest example of “real hip-hop.” But even when she’s doing the old look how well I rhyme trick, she’s is still inherently herself, calling herself the Goddess Mathangi, who controls speech, art, and music. Other powers are invoked here, too, but it’s of the rave-synth kind. This is what you want to hear when sweat drips down the warehouse walls: a digital aural assault that skitters and makes you want to knock someone out as much as jam your fist in the air. Bonus points for wrapping it up with a Janice Joplin-referencing “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose” crystalline coda.

5. “Matangi” (from Matangi, 2013)

If the title track from Matangi was on the version of the LP Interscope put on ice for being “too positive,” then they weren’t listening, because here M.I.A. sounds fucking pissed. “Matangi” is a little bit like a companion piece to “Bamboo Banga,” replete with an expanded list of her international auxiliaries and the same measure of muscular calm. But instead of dedicating the entire track to calling upon her people, she’s calling out everyone else. It’s not just the unnamed “look-alike[s], copycat[s], doppelganger[s], fraud[s]” she guns for, either, it’s Canada’s very own, as she follows it up with “Started from the bottom/ but Drake gets all the credit.” M.I.A. said that the process of figuring out how to be both an “art-freak person” and “spokesperson for children dying in the jungle.” If this is her avowal that she’s found it, it’s given her a lot of enemies to ward off, and she’s naming names.

4. “Bucky Done Gun” (from Arular, 2005)

There’s no doubt that the synths on “Bucky Done Gun” sound like they’re being shot from an Ares Shirke 5.56 for a reason. Another on the list of M.I.A.’s great apologia, the track is her defense of freedom-fighting but made euphoric with conga and horn samples. It’s also the best example of Diplo’s often criticized ripping of favela dance music.

3. “Paper Planes” (from Kala, 2007)

Who knew when M.I.A. crafted a hook about stick-up robbery that “Paper Planes” would ultimately be the cut that got her to, well, take all your money? Aligned with a strained sample of the Clash’s “Straight To Hell” and lackadaisical delivery, the song went from a fan favorite to beloved by people who have no interest in reading about Maya’s penchant for truffle fries. It also spawned 2008′s most power-packed posse cuts, T.I. and Jay Z’s “Swagga Like Us” featuring Kanye West and Lil’ Wayne, capping off ’Ye’s short-lived trend for sampling indie rock’s cool girl rappers.

2. “Galang” (from Arular, 2005)

M.I.A.’s use of vocal codas are sporadic, but when she does it, they sew themselves into your synapses and stay there forever. The “ya-ya-heyyyy” at the end of “Galang” is not only catchy and gorgeous, it fuses folk-chanting with club music. The quilts that M.I.A. constructs are Emma “If I Can’t Dance To It, It’s Not My Revolution” Goldman-pop, political in both lyrical content and in her genre-melding. When the track was first released, electroclash was on its last legs and this effectively killed it, building jungle and dancehall influences on top of the genre’s signature synthpop alteration and making it world music.

1. “Bad Girls” (from Matangi, 2013)

This is how you make a comeback anthem: When it seems like the entire world is out to get you, you slap them in the face with an ascendant trunk-rattler that boasts boisterous “damned-if-I-do” middle-fingers bars. Originally on her Vicki Leekx mixtape, the Danja-produced track showed more pop-polish than any of M.I.A.’s previous work but refrained from stepping away from her agitated expressiveness. The hook (“live fast/ die young/ bad girls do it well”) acts as mantra, not just because of the stylistic repetition, but because she knows what everyone thinks and she’s proud of it. And while it doesn’t alter why it’s her best song, you can’t talk about it without mentioning the video, which featured M.I.A. ghost-riding a Dubai drag-racing car while file her nails. It’s a rabid statement of both femininity and feminism, a vibrant hybrid of her undertaking to mix both culture and a party. Mission complete.

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Comments (74)
  1. solid list. no questioning #1

    • Bad Girls is probably the song that best captures M.I.A.’s style and greatness, but I think Paper Planes is a better track.
      Let’s assume we let some talented people cover both songs, 9 out of 10 times the Paper Planes cover would turn out better…

  2. I know that /\/\/\Y/\ was probably her worst album, but It Takes A Muscle (and maybe Space as well) from that should be on this list.

  3. 1. Where’s number 8?

    2. Not enough Kala. 20 Dollar is the bomb. I also have a soft spot for Jimmy.

  4. Two 6s and No 8…

  5. You forgot “World Town.”

    Solid writeup, but why the dig that she’s no “rappity-rapper”? Because she doesn’t employ cadences that male American rappers do? :/

  6. Always loved “Jimmy” off Kala and “Amazon” off Arular

  7. Interesting how so many songs of Matangi were chosen and it’s only been out for a few weeks!

    20 Dollar is awesome. actually so is 10 Dollar. Those are my two top faves.

  8. you missed the other two B’s. Bird Flu and Boyz

  9. I’d replace ‘Bring The Noize’ with ‘Jimmy’, I found Bring The Noize a bit irritating and messy but the rest of this list is spot on!

  10. Kudos for putting Bad Girls at #1. Paper Planes is super hyped but just isn’t as absolutely perfect as Bad Girls is. I feel like Sunshowers deserved inclusion though.

  11. I don’t know if you’re doing a going away post this week, but this post right here is one helluva write-up to go out on Claire!

    My unexpected love of Matangi has me on a M.I.A. fever pitch lately, so I enjoyed reading your preface more than the list.

    But I got to the list and it looks to be in good order. “Born Free” is in the house. “Galang” (rightfully) trumping “Paper Planes” and even the Matangi tracks are great selections.

    “Bad Girls” is obviously one helluva song, but combined with that music video it has become something else entirely in my mind. Badass personified. You should use it as your exit music.

    We’ll miss you Claire!

  12. It might just be the indian in me but I really love Jimmy.

    • It might just be the opossum in me, but I really love “Bamboo Banga”

      • It might be the weezy in me, but how about Birdflu, Boyz, Hussel, Mango Pickle Down River (just shows what a genius appropriator she is), or Come Around? Yeah… Kala was a great album.

        Side note kind of hate Jimmy but everytime those silly synths come on i smile and force myself to listen..

  13. Great list – sad to hear you’re going Claire. I’d have put “Sunshowers” on there if only because it’s what got me into MIA in the first place. For non-LP stuff, I love the DFA remix of “Paper Planes” and “Get It Up” with Santigold and Gorilla Zoe is awesomely swagger-y.

  14. I really like ‘Hussel’.The, “You think it’s tough now? Come to Africa” line from Afrikan Boy really put all of the ‘ganster’ rap into a global perspective for me. That’s one of my favourite things about MIA’s albums, they have such a cool worldliness to them that I dont get to much of in my music

    • You think it’s tough now, come come come come come to Africa
      You think it’s tough now, come come come come come to Africa
      You think it’s tough now, come come come come come to Africa
      *SPACESHIP SEISMIC SYNTH SHIP DESCENDS

      Out ‘ere we are grindin like peppe

  15. In my opinion…
    10. Boom Skit (from Matangi) – ADORABLE, BUT TOO SHORT
    9. Jimmy (from Kala) – USED TO HATE IT BECAUSE IT WAS SO OBVIOUSLY BOLLYWOOD-Y
    8. Sunshowers (from Arular) – I BONGO WITH MY LINGO…
    7. Boyz (from Kala) – NOT THAT POORLY AGED!
    6. XXXO (from MAYA) – NOT HER COOLEST BUT HER SWEETEST SONG, SO DAMN CATCHY!
    5. Galang
    4. Bamboo Banga
    3. Born Free
    2. Bad Girls
    1. Bucky Done Gun

  16. Am I the only one that thinks Bird Flu was awesome?

    • No, “Bird Flu” is decidedly awesome.

      • Bird Flu was some next level shit in 2007, and I don’t know, it might still be.
        I could also watch that video all day (not that Claire was wrong about Bad Girls being her best video).

        And speaking of next level shit, did anyone else catch the early version of XR2 that she had up on Myspace during the seemingly interminable wait for Kala to come out? it didn’t have all of the bleeps and special effects yet that wound up on the album version, but it had a slightly more muted mix that was a little more distinctive, imho, and that I usually prefer to the final track.

        • yeah, when the album was gonna be called “Power Power”. still i felt like “Bird Flu” was the first proper single, that song+video made me want to kick holes in the ceiling. it’s not as powerful out of the late-2000s context maybe, but it still bangs

    • Absolutely, most definitely NOT. I don’t know what Claire is on about saying Kala hasn’t aged well – it’s still her best release and “Bird Flu” is still an awesome track. My personal favorite of hers. So no, you’re not the only one. What I understand even less is why so much Matangi made this list.

  17. 1. Bad Girls
    2. 20 Dollar
    3. Warriors
    4. Galang
    5. Bamboo Banga
    6. Sunshowers
    7. Teqkilla
    8. YALA
    9. Fire Fire
    10. Bird Flu

    Never was a big fan of “Paper Planes”. Like it, but it never was a stand out for me on Kala.

    • Yeah, I actually went through a period where I would listen to Kala and forget that “Paper Planes” was coming up. That album had so many great, unusual songs, that I think “Paper Planes” got a little lost for me since it was so much more conventional (relatively speaking).

      Also, YALA, YES!

  18. “A lot of the material [from Kala] has aged poorly, songs like “Bird Flu” and “Boyz” sounding a little bit messy after hearing more of what meticulous soundscapes M.I.A. can construct.”

    A few things:

    1.) Kala is her best album.
    2.) It has not aged poorly.
    3.) It is the least likely of her albums to age poorly.
    4.) “Bird Flu” is not messy.
    5.) “Bird Flu” is a rhythmically complex, sonically disorienting, tremendously catchy song.
    6.) “Boyz” is not messy.
    7.) “Boyz” is great too.
    8.) What we do now?
    9.) Duppa bounce.
    10.) Dem der duppa bounce.

    Best of luck in the future, Claire!

  19. Anyone else thought those balloons kinda looked like the xenomorph from Alien?

    And that’s the plot of Prometheus 2, Re-Prometheu’d!

  20. I’ve always loved ‘Come Around.’ Song just moooooves. Belongs on this list.

  21. Pretty pleased with this, more so than I usually am with Gum’s Top 10 Lists. Although, I suppose you can’t really go wrong with a M.I.A. list, since so many of her songs are classics in my book.

    The only song I was legitimately surprised to not see here was “Sunshowers.” It doesn’t get more M.I.A. for me than that song, except maybe “Galang,” “Bad Girls,” and “Paper Planes.” So many good lines from that song. “I salt and pepper my mango,” anyone? And of course the infamous PLO name-drop. I just love how chirpy and happy the song sounds on the surface even though her raps are like, so fucked up (“They cornered him / And then just murdered him!”).

    I also enjoy the abrupt change in tone “Hombre” brings to the sense of rage boiling over in Arular: a moment when the more straightforward anger of “Bucky Done Gun,” “Fire Fire,” and “Pull Up the People” is dropped for something altogether more haunting. “You can stick me / Stab me, grind me, or wind me” may be the most violent come-on ever, to say nothing of the clearly ill-fated Cinderella fantasy at its end (“You had a ticket waiting for me / Said you wanna meet in Miami / So we can start a family”), or those echoing “eh”s and “whoa”s of what sounds like at least six M.I.A.s. That song wormed its way into my brain like no other on Arular.

    Too much of Kala is just so good—the submarine-on-LSD vibes of “Hussel,” the impossibly badass “Bamboo Banga,” the noisy experimental pop of “World Town” and “Bird Flu”—to the point that it’s almost impossible for me to call favorites on that album. “$20” sure is brilliant, though, featuring some of her best lines (“Do you know the cost of AKs up in Africa? / Twenty dollars ain’t shit to you, but that’s how much they are,” “I put people on the map that never seen a map”) and contextual experiments (analogizing the stoned confusion of “Where Is My Mind” with the surreal state of affairs in Africa is so genius IMO).

    /\/\ /\ Y /\ is the kind of album where I always forget how much of it I actually loved until I revisit it. In particular, “Believer” (I’ve listened to that song 200+ times and have no idea what she’s saying at any given point thanks to that Autotune, except “I didn’t choose the battles / The battles chose me”) and the equally trippy “Space” are highlights. I always loved “Teqkilla” even if it seems slightly overlong. I couldn’t get quite as into the noisiest offerings on that album (“Steppin’ Up” and “Meds and Feds” in particular) when it came out, but on further listening, they strike me more and more as the logical follow-ups to the most chaotic bits of Kala, and not just “punishing” as critics seemed to think.

    I’ve been blasting Matangi nonstop since it came out. “aTENTion” is just so weird! I love the anti-pop lyricism she smuggles into “Come Walk with Me” (“You ain’t gotta throw your hands in the air / ‘Cuz tonight we ain’t acting like we don’t care”), which is otherwise the album’s poppiest moment. “Double Bubble Trouble” does a fantastic job of repurposing its source material as contemporary club music, and I love the feminization of YOLO on “YALA.” “Bombs go off when I enter the building” is such a badass line. Not quite sure about the shout-out to Julianne Moore though.

    You’re most definitely right: “Bad Girls” is M.I.A.’s best song.

    And out of non-LP stuff, I’ve totally dug her collaborations with Rye Rye—“Sunshine” in particular—and “Rain Dance” by the Very Best, which I just finally discovered was in fact on their album and not one of her demos. And “O… Saya” is brilliant.

    TL;DR: I really like M.I.A.

  22. This is probably missing “Y.A.L.A.” and “$20″. I think that a case could be made for “Exodus ft. The Weeknd”.

  23. no “Sunshowers” is crazy. her most beautiful song. listened to that every day when i got dragged along on a family trip to Israel and it felt genuinely transgressive in a way music rarely is anymore. also “20 Dollar”–those two might be my 1 and 2, pretty much sums up M.I.A.–not to say she’s a simplistic artist.

    i have a real soft spot for “XXXO,” too–it’s such a sweet, touching respite in the midst of /\/\/\Y/\’s paranoid mania.

    General Obligatory “Paper Planes” Reflection: some of the coverage of Matangi has entertained this weird revisionism about “Paper Planes” where its significance grew out of its use in the Pineapple Express trailer. that certainly gave it the push of wide exposure, but that song needed no popular contextualization. that was the immediate, replay-replay favorite when i found some crummy pre-release stream and had memorized the words before the album came out; i started freshman year at a little liberal arts college a couple weeks later and that song was pouring out multiple dorm windows as i wandered around on move-in day. throughout the next few years, whenever it came on at a party everybody flipped out and made the gun fingers along with the chorus. it’s hard to think of a more galvanizing anthem from that decade. M.I.A. is awesome.

  24. Where’s XR2? Where’s $20?

  25. 1. Bird Flu
    2. Pull Up The People
    3. XR2
    4. Come Walk With Me
    5. Galang
    6. Sunshowers
    7. Tell Me Why
    8. The World (Vicki Leekz MIxtape)
    9. Teqkilla
    10. Boyz

  26. MANGO PICKLE DOWN RIVER

  27. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • I clicked on this column solely to see how long it would take for someone to make the first “Paper Planes” troll comment.

      4/10 for effort. Too obvious. I am dissapointed.

  28. Stilll gotta hear Matangi, but much of the rest looks good.

    Tell Me Why likely rates an honorable mention though and, like a few other commenters I just can’t see any way a M.I.A. top 10 list doesn’t include Mango Pickle Down River.

  29. One of my favorite songs in the lead-up to Kala was “Hit That.” I remember being disappointed when it wasn’t on the album, but then when I heard “Paper Planes,” I realized that that pulsing bassline (as well as the “all I wanna do is zoom zoom zoom zoom” lyric) had gone to a better song. Still, I really like her vocal delivery on “Hit That.” That song is much more minimal than “Paper Planes,” but even if Kala had included “Hit That” instead, it would still be my favorite album of hers. Also, “Bamboo Banga” is one of the most bad-ass album openers I’ve heard.

    Still haven’t listened to Matangi yet, except for “Bad Girls,” which has been my favorite M.I.A. song since I first heard it.

  30. i’m pretty happy with this list. i had every expectation while clicking on the link that paper planes would deliberately be left off to antagonize everyone, but it’s there. i think the very idea of using straight to hell should’ve been a wake up call to any rapper out there: they had their chance to sample one of the more obvious ready-to-cut clash songs out there, but they blew it.

    and i can agree that bad girls is her best song. not only does it reaffirm that m.i.a. can actually rap, but the production is totally perfect. the song itself lends a great pro-female argument, but that video: my god. the stunts, the imagery, the islamic women driving cars. it’s probably one of the boldest statements in recent music video history.

  31. Arular brought me out of the musical doldrums I’d been in for a few years. I loved the straight up DIY melange of rap/world/electro. I don’t care if she eats truffle fries sprinkled with platinum. Plus she’s fucking gorgeous. Pretty much like the list but Sun Showers has to be on mine. Peace.

  32. Really thought Y.A.L.A. would be a shoe in for this list. I would have liked to see Bird Flu on there too, although I prefer the even crazier Damgroove Remix of that tune.

  33. Would’ve loved to have seen some more “Piracy Funds Terrorism” and “Kala” material pop up on here; that said number 1 was one of the easier picks I’ve seen yet for one of these lists.

  34. gotta say bird flu and xr2 would definitely be towards the top of my list. bad girls is good but its definitely not her best song

  35. I don’t share the devotion to Bad Girls — heard/seen a few times prior to the album release like most, presumably — that many commenters and the author here have, though I do like the song. (Otoh, I like Paper Planes so much that I’m still not tired of it, so there’s the [BANG BANG BANG BANG] anyone can use to turn on me whenever they like.)

    I almost let a host of down-on-Matangi reviewers over the past few weeks (plus a newfound commitment to thrift) cause this to be the first M.I.A. LP starting with Kala that I didn’t purchase sound-unheard and was likely to take a pass on Matangi altogether. (Exciting stuff, eh? Want to hear about my fantasy football team next?!)

    Thanks to this article, its comments, what I was actually able to hear first and, er, minority views elsewhere though, I bought Matangi shortly after my comment above and after several listens, at the risk of how the LP might age so soon after release (plus my own still-limited # of listens):

    1) I consider Matangi M.I.A.’s most consistent, cohesive, collection of good and great songs and best LP of hers so far (w/ Kala, /\/\/\/\Y/\, and Arular following, in that order). Arular got me on board, the next two have great hits tempered by album lows, but if Matangi is heard by enough folk — I dunno if it opened top 5, top 30, or what…guessing more towards the latter — I’d wager many will become devoted to it too.

    2) Even more respect to Claire L. for the article itself and doing this list given the # of worthy Matangi songs to try to integrate into a list where “the 10″ could be fairly — irrationally/drunkenly/hiply/exclusively over text…I don’t know you or your style…you be you, um, and stuff — argued about given the strength and # of top songs in the existing catalog,

    Then working in the Matangi songs? I’m confident I’d have pretty low confidence in my own list and its order given all the terrific new songs. “It’s hard work and nobody had to do it,” but thanks for doing so anyway Claire (despite your churning-just-below-the-surface Mango Pickle Down River hate).

  36. No, no, no Stereogum. This list is an epic FAIL. You got the icing down, but Diplo/M.I.A’s Piracy Funds Terrorism=A+ the entire way through! Not to mention….

    -Sunshowers
    -Xxxo
    -It Takes A Muscle
    -Ladykiller

    Honorable Mention for the following stellar Rye Rye tracks featuring prominent M.I.A verses, etc:

    -Bang
    -Rock Off, Shake Off
    -Sunshine

    And Buraka Som Sistema’s

    -Sound Of Kuduro feat M.I.A

  37. Glad to see some Teqkilla love here. That’s one seriously drugged up jam, it always sounds like a wild party in a South Asian jungle to me. The suddenly high pitched chorus “I got sticky sticky icky icky weeeeed” always gets me. And the word play…

    And Kala is seriously bad ass. Just from Tracks 4-7 we have the Indian, African, Aboriginal Australian and spaced-out Pixies references, only to go into World Town. Ultimately climaxing at Paper Planes. Orgasm.

    • And as someone pointed out, 20 Dollar’s
      “do you know that cost of AK’s up in Africa / 20 dollars ain’t shit to you but that’s how much they are” &
      “I put people on the map that never seen a map”
      might be the most memorable and thought-provoking of her lyrics ever.

  38. I disagree with “boys” omission, to me it’s still a masterly produced track and sort of a classic.

  39. strange list, i would’ve omitted Teqkilla and Bad Girls and added . . . okay, I need more than two. Exodus, 20 Dollar, 10 Dollar (FEELS ABOUT THIS ONE), Bring The Noize, Y.A.L.A.

  40. Bingo should be #1. I don’t understand how any M.IA. fan could miss this song. As a result this list is flawed along with all comments as none included Bingo unless I missed it.

  41. This list like, officially doesn’t make sense. I’m not just being a dickhead, its like, a dumb list.
    ‘Boyz’ and ‘Jimmy’ should have been there no arguments.
    And you can pretty much argue that any single other one of her songs should be on the list.

  42. Where is the song “10 Dollar”? -.-

  43. Double Bubble Trouble?????

  44. No $20. Pfft.

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