"M.I.A. trumped Madonna" says Telegraph music blogger
Watch: M.I.A's middle finger to Saudi Arabia's insane driving laws trumps Madonna's sexy pop
The video for M.I.A's new track Bad Girls has just been released. Why is there so much hype around it? Well, first, M.I.A's aesthetic, whether you're find her irritating or not, is significant in its power, influence and downright badassness. And second, it's directed by Roman Gavras, the hottest director of the moment, who won major props for Born Free in 2010, another M.I.A video that shocked some with its violent massacre of gingers (note the ginger kid reference at the end of Bad Girls).
Anyway, it's not hard to imagine what the Sri Lankan-British singer – a sucker for political statements – is saying. It's a great big middle finger to Saudi Arabia's inhumane laws about women. It's the only country in the world where women are banned from driving. Muslim academics warned in December that allowing women to drive would "provoke a surge in prostitution, ****ography, homosexuality and divorce". Please.
They also said that if the ban was lifted, there would be "no more virgins" in the Islamic Kingdom within ten years. So what does M.I.A do? In the video, she leads a crowd of women decked in traditional middle-eastern garb with a hipster twist, in a modern day Rebel-Without-A-Cause-esque drag race. It's a dusty, dusky evening. Armed with machine guns, aviator sunglasses, bling and catchy dance moves, the girls are watched by cheering men as they drive, spin, skid and whoop across the stunning desert plain. The heart-racing moment is footage of cars (run-down Nissans and Volvos, I think) moving along on their sides (!) with M.I.A and gang filing their nails, reclining and ultimately standing on them. It's a massive f— you to the Saudi government.
Naturally, she looks amazing against a background of fires, spinning beamers and jiving children. It's a joyful celebration of Girl Power, matched by producer Danja's propulsive beats and twisting, Punjabi-style riff. "My chain hits my chest when I'm banging on the dashboard," states M.I.A (she doesn't really sing). "Don't go screaming when I blow you with a bang," she volleys unapologetically.
It's a sexy film, brimming with dust, steam, oil and pouts. Sassy, energetic and dangerous, it wouldn't surprise me if this elavates her to global superstar status. Watch out for the see-through car. Very cool.
It trumps poor Madonna, who also released a video today. The video for Give Me All Your Luvin' is watchable – and actually features M.I.A and Nicki Minaj – but it doesn't come close in boldness or infectious audacity. Of course the requisite bitching about Madonna's hyperactive crotch boinging around like a pogo has started. That doesn't bother me – she's still the Queen of Pop – but, frankly the song is weak. Anyway, see who you think won battle of the videos today.
It's a great big middle finger to Saudi Arabia's inhumane laws about women. It's the only country in the world where women are banned from driving. Muslim academics warned in December that allowing women to drive would "provoke a surge in prostitution, ****ography, homosexuality and divorce".