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“Bad Girls” by M.I.A.

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“Bad Girls” by M.I.A.

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“Bad Girls” by M.I.A.


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    “Bad Girls” by M.I.A. (official video) is a hip hop song. The video is a social commentary on Saudi Arabia refusing to allow women to legally drive a car.

    Song Title: Bad Girls (official video)
    Artist: M.I.A.
    Album: Matangi
    Genre: hip hop, pop, dancehall, worldbeat, alternative, dance
    Composer: Copyright © 2010 Maya “M.I.A.” Arulpragasam, Nate “Danja” Hills, Marcella Araica
    Lead Vocals: Maya “M.I.A.” Arulpragasam
    Director: Romain Gavras
    Producer: Nathaniel “Danja” Hills
    Recorded: 2010, Hit Factory Criteria, Circle House Studios, Miami, Florida
    Released: 31 January 2012
    Label: self released/Interscope
    Number of listens: 37476
    Current rank: 36 (updated weekly)
    Highest rank: 12 (play the video all the way through to register a vote for this song)


    Summary quotation from Wikipedia:

    “Bad Girls” is a song by recording artist M.I.A. for her fourth studio album, scheduled for release in April 2013. The song is written by Maya “M.I.A.” Arulpragasam, Marcella Araica and Floyd Nathaniel “Danja” Hills, and produced by Danja. The song, her first release following her departure from XL Recordings in 2011, was self-released worldwide under exclusive license to Interscope Records in the US on 31 January 2012. A shorter version of the song appeared on Vicki Leekx (2010), a free online mixtape on 31 December 2010. “Bad Girls” was released as a digital download a day after its world premiere on radio and online.

    “Bad Girls” is a midtempo song with dancehall, middle-eastern, oriental, and R&B influences and exhibiting elements of worldbeat and syncopated drums in its instrumentation. The song’s lyrics revolve around sexual prowess and female empowerment, while its chorus features the refrain “Live fast die young, bad girls do it well” sung in a haughty rap-sung delivery. The song received positive reviews from contemporary critics, who lauded it as a highlight from the mixtape and commended its hook and lyrics on its final version as containing hallmarks of her previous songs including “Paper Planes” (2007) and “XXXO” (2010).

    An accompanying music video for the song was shot in Ouarzazate, Morocco in solidarity with the Women to drive movement, premiering on 3 February 2012. Directed by Romain Gavras and written by Arulpragasam, the video garnered universal acclaim and accolades from other artists. The song charted in the United Kingdom, Australia, France, Canada, United States, Switzerland, South Korea, and Belgium solely on downloads and was distributed in physical format on 12 March 2012.

Background and release

    “Bad Girls” first appeared on M.I.A.’s self-released mixtape Vicki Leekx (2010), shortly following the release of her third studio album Maya earlier that year. Recording sessions for the song transpired in Miami, Florida; M.I.A worked with Danja, a producer who previously collaborated with recording artists such as Madonna and Nelly Furtado. The artwork for “Bad Girls” was released on 25 January 2012, while photos taken by Bernard Coulter of M.I.A. with cowriters Danja and Marcella, who were listening to the record’s main mix in a jeep, were revealed on the rapper’s official website and her Twitter page.

    Preceding its release, “Bad Girls” was premiered on audio sharing site SoundCloud on 30 January 2012; the song premiered live on worldwide radio the same day on BBC Radio 1. The single was chosen as Zane Lowe’s “Hottest Record in the World” alongside Jack White’s “Love Interruption” (2012). Lowe opined that despite her typically “energetic” tracks, the rapper was “finding a new voice on [her] forthcoming album”, which perhaps explained “the lack of showing off displayed” on the record. “Bad Girls” became readily available for digital download on the iTunes and on the following day. The song reached the A-List on BBC Radio 6 rotation, and reached the top of the playlist on Italian radio station Radio Deejay for the week dated 10 March. The single was released in physical format in the United Kingdom on 12 March 2012.


    “Bad Girls” is midtempo dance-pop song with influxes of worldbeat, hip-hop, and contemporary R&B. The track incorporates with multiple elements of Middle Eastern and Indian hooks. The song’s structure is focused on careening beats, synths inspired by Eastern sounds and syncopated drums and an SOS signal rhythm. Nick Levine of NME commented that the song’s chorus was one of those “boffo pop choruses” that M.I.A. could toss off when she wanted to, while commending the chorus as being in the same vein as that of “XXXO”, a track from M.I.A.’s third studio album Maya (2010). Rolling Stone thought that “Bad Girls” was the catchiest song the singer had released since “Paper Planes” from Kala (2007). The song’s instrumentation consists of background bleeps and blorps mixed down, and the percussion turned up from, but still recalling, the original mixtape version. Because of these, the song exhibits what David Marchese of Spin describes as a “vaguely sinister” rhythm slither.

    Lyrically, the song explores thems of sexual empowerment and feminism. M.I.A. professes “Live fast, die young, bad girls do it well” and “My chain hits my chest when I’m banging on the radio” in a nonchalant mannered chant. Marchese describes the lyric as “irresistibly sassy,” a view shared by Robert Copsey of Digital Spy, who wrote that it was a line M.I.A. pulled off spectacularly. M.I.A. adopts a “nicely haughty” rapping-singing vocalization that bears resemblance to her previous work. The first verse consists of M.I.A. declaring in many references to cars “My chain hits my chest when I’m banging on the dashboard / My chain hits my chest when I’m banging on the radio / Yeah back it, back it, yeah pull up to the bumper game / With a signal, cover me, cause I’m changing lanes / Had a handle on it, my life, but I broke it / When I get to where I’m going, gonna have you saying it.” She continues with the line “I had a handle on it / My life, but I broke it” in an emotionally key delivery, a view shared by Will Hermes of Rolling Stone who notes that in an anthem to recklessly empowered car sex, is “surprisingly” melancholy.

Music video

    M.I.A. announced via Twitter that she had shot an accompanying music video for the song, directed by Romain Gavras. This is the second time the two have collaborated, following the 2010 video to “Born Free”. Two photos from the set of the video were uploaded by the artist onto M.I.A.’s official website in February 2012. The video for “Bad Girls” premiered on Noisey, VICE’s new music channel on YouTube, on 2 February 2012 at a total length of four minutes and twelve seconds. Principal photography for the video transpired in Ouarzazate, Morocco over a period of four days.

    The setting of the music video features crumbled architecture, sustained over years of attack; smouldering oil tankards; young men in kaffiyeh, standing around dangerously bored; mysterious women covered from head to toe, with only their kohl-lined eyes flashing out. M.I.A. joked to Noisey in a YouTube comment response interview that she shot the video in Morocco because she “didn’t want to go to jail!”. M.I.A. deadpans to the camera about having sex in cars while vamping in front of those tankard fires. M.I.A. rides atop a drifting car, filing her nails, and in a see through glow-in-the-dark car custom-made for the shoot. Her idea for the vehicle was inspired by the scene of actor Prabhu Deva dancing atop a see-through bus in the song “Urvasi Urvasi” from Kadhalan (1994). Having initially planned to fund the perspex car’s construction in India, M.I.A. and Gavras funded the car’s manufacture in Morocco after being told it would take 5 months to complete. Women are depicted gyrating with AK-47s, while wearing designs in cheetah patterns, polka dots and gold. Made in India, M.I.A. described the design and creation of the video’s props, from the clothes designs to the car’s upholstery, as an “accumulated process”. M.I.A. 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, where the musician is 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 desert plain. Channelling male angst, futility and anger, old family sedans and BMWs are grabbed and turned into drifting, skiing racing stunt rides. A rearing, galloping horse is picturised, being ridden alongside the cars. Critics note this resonates whether on Crenshaw, Eight Mile or a bullet-scarred road running parallel with an oil pipe line. The video evokes an Arab Gulf landscape – dusty, baked, semi-apocalpytic and in the hands of M.I.A. and Gavras, “utterly hard-core”. Dan Busheikin of CHARTattack described the outfits in the video as “ostentatious” and the driving “risky”, calling the video “pretty badass”. He welcomed M.I.A.’s “ditching of the gaudy GIF imagery and digital weirdo phase” of her early work, while feeling the singer remained “as flashy” and confident as ever.

    Cars shown in the music video; Mercedes-Benz TN, Mercedes-Benz W210, BMW E36, BMW E46, Alfa Romeo 156, and Land Rover Defender.

    Contemporary critics universally commended the music video for its themes and production values. The video was both heralded and criticized for confronting women’s rights in Saudi Arabia; the portrayal of women wearing the niqab driving cars is strictly prohibited in Saudi Arabia, while some media outlets accused the video of propagating Arab stereotypes.

—from Wikipedia (the Wikipedia:Text of Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License applies to Wikipedia’s block of text and possible accompanying picture, along with any alterations, transformations, and/or building upon Wikipedia’s original text that applied to this block of text)

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most recent comment

    Miyu: Great song!

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