So I've been flirting with a fleeting interest in the freaky tribal hip hop of M.I.A.'s last album, "Kala" ever since it came out in August, and I think I'm now officially hooked. Despite hearing she's a dull, lifeless performer, despite my first exposure to the gunfire rhythm section of "Paper Planes" (which kinda freaked me out to be honest), and despite all of the off-putting hype, she's grown on me like a fungus, like athlete's foot if I were indeed an athlete.
Her sound is all over the map in so many ways--geographically, sonically, lyrically---that to track its cultural origins seems as tedious as long division; the Observer did a great job of recapping her globe-trotting recording sessions, though.
And then there's the familiarity of some of the songs. Specifically "Jimmy", which I just discovered is actually a cover of the only Bollywood film I've ever viewed in its entirety, 1982's "The Disco Dancer." I won't pretend to know that I understood anything about that film, my friend Gabriel played host to a viewing a few years back and he could speak volumes on it, I'm sure. I do recall that it involved an electric guitar capable of emitting electric shocks to people, and that there was a thrilling world disco competition.
Also, the choreography of that film was just mind-blowing. I didn't realize that the human body was capable of purposefully producing a graceful, rhythmic epileptic fit, in such a way that it comes across as both sexy and demure.
Here's the video of the song "Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Aaja" that inspired M.I.A.'s cover:
I LOOOVE M.I.A.'s cover, but I wish she'd actually dance to give proper justice to this song, instead of using a Shiva getup to hide her lack of moves. Apparently M.I.A. danced to this as a little girl in Sri Lanka to entertain party guests, it's a wonder why she didn't break them out here:
I'm really glad she covered this song though, allowing the world of Bollywood music to clandestinely seep into the Western mainstream of "urban" pop. I feel like America has been lacking in the dance music department for far too long, and if this can inspire dancing, I am very excited. On a related note, I've been dying to take Indian dance lessons ever since watching this film, this is the only place on the internets where I was able to track an instructor in all of San Francisco. Who's up for this in July?