Single Review: MIA – XXXO. MIA gone Pop?

MIA – XXXO (BUY from iTunes.)

M.I.A. has been all the buzz on the Internet lately, and for the right reason. Her follow-up album has huge expections following her surprise success with the hit “Paper Planes” two years ago. But she’s kept herself in the news lately, mainly for dissing Lady Gaga and for her controversial video for “Born Free”. For those thinking that MIA had found some type of new punk rock sensibility however, you have another thing coming.

For her second single XXXO, MIA goes predictably in a more pop direction. However, unlike most pop stars today, Maya is able to keep her edge and the result is not as watered down as I thought it would be. Producers Blaqstarr and Rusko manage to craft a single that manages to keep the hipsters and the teenyboppers happy. Combining traditional ultra dance synths with a soft melody (“You want me be Somebody who I’m really not,”), XXXO is rather danceable, and almost upbeat. Just to keep the edge however, the melody is then contrasted it with with the bleak chorus–MIA repeating XXXO 8 times in her trademark monotone voice.

The result sounds better in your ears than on paper, however, it falls short of some of her better songs, and unlike the booming hooks of “Paper Planes,” or the iconic sample of “Sunshowers,” “XXXO” isn’t as catchy as it should be.

Is this a track that will put Ms. Arulpragasam back in the mainstream? Hardly. But it’s a step in a good direction.