M.I.A. – P.O.W.A.

M.I.A. finally shared the visual element of her brand new track, “P.O.W.A” and thank fuck she did. Yes, she had been previewing teasing elements of the video on Instagram last week, but nothing could have readied audiences for the sheer scale of this thing. The first release from the artist since her album A.I.M. which was out last September, is typically excellent, self-aware and hard-driven.

Hypnotizing audio samples – predominantly “Blue Moon” from The Marcels – form a bed for M.I.A. to chant her perfectly sensible hyper-real rhymes: “I’m not Osama/ Monsanto farmer/ I don’t drink no soda/ I believe in karma.” She then states the obvious; “I’m not Rihanna/ I’m not Madonna/ I’m not Mariah, or Ariana.” but we’re glad she spells this out – because underlining an issue is sometimes essential. This is uber-pop and when you’re speaking to a crowd of scale you need to elevate the simple, and break nuance.

M.I.A. has always known exactly how to play populism like a de-tuned drum. She pours heart through this self-directed episode, and also her (maybe unconscious) motif of standing on really high posts, outcrops, and rooftops in videos is continued here. No landscape can contain the energy – she issues invitation to rise and be bigger than all of this. There are flowers too, lots of flowers. Some people across internetland are conspiracy theorizing that BeyoncĂ©s creative team swooped in and stole the concept for her pregnancy photo shoot. Let’s leave that extra-curricular bullshittery to one side – these blooms are bright and beautiful. We don’t know what they mean, but they look really nice.

Let’s talk about the landscape for moment. Baron mountains, deep gorges, and natural colors spread themselves behind acutely selected costumes on an army of dancers. There’s some free-flowing silk action that pours from M.I.A. like hot lava. She’s rising up from the very core of all of this. The visual results are as loud as anything coming from the speakers.

Just this week it was announced that M.I.A. was selected to curate the Meltdown Music Festival on London’s Southbank – a series of events that promises to blend music and art from all cultures. It’s like she was made for the job. Anyway – enough of that – hit play on the video – and expand for full screen action.

We award “P.O.W.A.” from M.I.A. 4.5 out of 5 possible paper planes thrown into the sun.


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