"Oh Lord, M.I.A!"
Let's get it out of the way: 'Bad Girls' is so catchy! Between the Aladdin-esque electronic line, the thumping bass and drum machine beats, and the rallying cry of "Live fast, Die young, Bad Girls do it well!" it's impossible to miss the fact that this song is an earworm [thanks to M.I.A.'s collaboration with pop production giant, Danja]. Regardless of your feelings towards M.I.A. and her music, listeners will remember this song well after it has completed its 4 minute run. However, the heart of the matter is whether this song is good or not.
Watch: M.I.A. - 'Bad Girls'
Well, to put it simply, it's what we've come to expect of M.I.A. in recent years. She seems to have dropped her political messages by the wayside in favor of the in's and out's of female sexuality, reflections on relationships, or rampant musical assaults (let's not forget 'Born Free'). Her political side comes across in her some of her music videos but it's not immediately apparent in this specific song. So it comes down to this: 'Bad Girls' is a great song in the context of M.I.A.'s newer material. It's sexy, it's fierce, and it's downright dirty. 'Bad Girls' is a terrible song in the context of M.I.A.'s older material. It's over-produced, it's kitschy, and it's lyrical content is shallow.
Any judgement I pass on 'Bad Girls' is a result of how torn I am between the versions of M.I.A. I've come to know. If I dislike the song, I'm condemning her to stagnancy and stating that she should go back to how she used to be, circa Arular. If I like the song, I'm overlooking how mindless it really is and accepting this pseudo-gangster persona M.I.A. has adopted since the release of 'Paper Planes'. The brunt of this song is that it puts listeners in the middle. It is neither terrible, nor wonderful. It just is. It will be up to M.I.A. to finally find a way to return to her roots of social consciousness while keeping up with the speed of the music industry when it comes to what's catchy and attractive. If she doesn't make a decision soon she'll leave her listeners sitting in musical limbo time and again. Mediocrity is no way to make a statement.
'Bad Girls' is out now.