No. 13: M.I.A., “Paper Planes”

Michaelangelo Matos | December 29, 2008 5:00 am

I left Slumdog Millionaire during the mansion scene—I couldn’t watch someone be that stupid anymore, sorry. Flimsy framing device, too. But even I had to admit that when “Paper Planes” came on it matched the images perfectly—even if I also think playing the entire song in the middle of the movie was, well, kind of unnecessary.

Nevertheless: great song, and there was little as heartwarming in Big Pop this year as watching it hit the Top 5. Of course, it did so on the back of megabucks films I have no real interest in, but I’d rather listen to groups of schoolkids sing along to this one than most of the competition. The danger here is that it can wear out its welcome a bit too easily if M.I.A. is serious about staying away from the spotlight—the song could take the place of the performer. Surely “Swagga Like Us” has already helped this begin to happen.

Since I take most young musicians’ professions to retire with basically no seriousness, I’m sure she’ll do something again soon; or maybe Buraka Som Sistema’s “Sound of Kuduro,” which features her, will catch on like “Paper Planes” has. A year ago the idea that there might be a first M.I.A. hit was basically a pipe dream. The idea that there might now be a second is one of the year’s best surprises.

M.I.A. – Paper Planes [Dailymotion] T.I. ft. Kanye West, Jay-Z & Lil Wayne – Swagga Like Us [Dailymotion] Buraka Som Sistema – “Sound of Kuduro” [Dailymotion] M.I.A. [MySpace] 80 ’08 (and heartbreak)