Thursday, February 14, 2013

M.I.A. - "Bad Girls" (2012)

"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. The song is written by Maya "M.I.A." Arulpragasam, Marcella Araica and Floyd Nathaniel "Danja" Hills, and produced by Danja. It is midtempo hip-hop song with influxes of worldbeat, dance-pop, 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.

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. Principal photography for the video transpired in Ouarzazate, Morocco over a period of four days.

Hua Hsu, writing for, praised Gavras as "strikingly" talented, making "scenes of faraway desperation look like the most beautiful, mysterious cologne advertisements ever" and the artistic vision of M.I.A. for delivering the audience "somewhere else." He noted that for some, the video would be further confirmation that "ornate scarves, wind-carved deserts, and Arabic script" were cool, while for others, it will "no doubt inspire a deeper investigation into globalism and globalization, feminism, the politics of oil, the West's influence in the Middle East, a career as a graduate student etc." He concluded that the video was further example of what made M.I.A.'s "protest-in-the-name-of-what-exactly? so riveting, important, and almost prophetic. She flatters our desire for authenticity, for a real spokesperson who apprehends the full circumference of the planet, and then she goes and makes a bright, gaudy T-shirt of it all. If she has sold out — if she represented anything in the first place — then she's shown us exactly what our dollar can buy: an absolutely stunning video starring some of the Middle East's finest stunt drivers."

Elizabeth Flock writing in Washington Post noted that the video was made at a time when Saudi women began fighting against the ban outside of court and online, while following the release of the video, two Saudi female activists — Manal al-Sharif and Samar Badawi — filed lawsuits against the government for refusing to give them a driver’s license, the first high-profile legal challenge to the country’s ban on female drivers.

The video won Best Direction, and Best Cinematography at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards. It was also nominated for Video of the Year but lost out to Rihanna's "We Found Love". It was nominated for a 2013 Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video.

The N.A.R.S Remix features rappers Missy Elliott and Azealia Banks, the Switch Remix still features Missy Elliott but with Rye Rye replacing Azealia Banks.

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