Bad Girl: Does M.I.A. Measure Up to Her Own Revolutionary Claims?

While M.I.A.’s music could be the kind of heady stuff that prompts people to organize around social change, this clearly hasn’t happened.

Last week, M.I.A. dropped a video for her new song, “Bad Girls.” It’s a good encapsulation of what the singer does best: embrace diverse acts of political and cultural rebellion and re-cast them as sexy and powerful. In the video, women dressed in burqas raise their fists skyward as they drive. M.I.A. herself strikes a nonchalant pose on the side of a car while it improbably skates, two-wheeled, across a desert highway. The camera pans along a line of men dressed in keffiyehs who stare coolly at the viewer. It’s a defiant video that recalls the thrilling energy of the Arab Spring.

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