M.I.A.'s new single, 'XXXO': Now this is more like it

m-i-aImage Credit: Jordan Strauss/WireImage.comWhew. Were you as scared as we were?  A few weeks back when M.I.A. released the first offering from her forthcoming third album — the punk bullhorned ruckus that is “Born Free” — we feared her next set would be a bust. But now she’s back with the “official” first single, “XXXO,” and our worries have been eased.  This techno-tinged dance record is what we hoped for from our Sri Lankan anti-pop star. It’s an aggressive but friendly love cut dressed up with playful lyrics. “I can be the actress. You can Tarantino,” she teases in one line. It’s the fun, naughty stuff we like.

Give it a listen after the jump and tell us what you think.

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

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Comments (27 total) Add your comment
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  • john

    I like Born Free better than this

    • Pretty Piranha

      I guess this song is a $ song, i guess you need them to keep making music?? It sounds like the other songs on commercial radio, full of the same sounds and of the same radio appropriate, tame, sexual references. MIA pre paper planes was loved for her hard hitting lyrics and original sounds. I work with youth and was excited when they showed interest in Paper planes but they quickly rejected the rest of her album when i tried to play it to them. I have often wondered why some people cant hear and enjoy new sounds, why it makes them feel uncomfortable and why they mask this feeling with a facade of boredom. I have a theory that it comes down to their upbringing. I grew up with a Dad who was a Jazz musician and we always had very diverse music in the house, Jazz, Classical, world, folk and some pop. This one screams copy cat but I still love you MIA!!. Your true fans will understand your need to sit on the fence or is it that the record company is twisting yr arm? Actually I don’t mind listening to some commercial music, I just take offense when people (like the person who wrote this article) poo-poo music that doesn’t fit the box. I’m guessing the person who wrote this article maybe being paid to spout opinions that sway the general public into having a narrow view of what is good listening, therefor making maximum profits for the record companies as they are currently being threatened by the ever increasing popularity of non commercial music being accessed by the phenomenon of the internet.

      • JZ-VP

        I loved your comment and very much agree. MIA is a daring artist and it’s a shame many people turn off to the genuinely different things she does with music (although let’s be honest, she’s huge). This article irked me because the author was unhappy with how experimental the first song was and now is content with something much more lukewarm that sounds like regular pop radio (albeit a much better version given that it is MIA after all). Well, EW was never known as the hippest or most discerning magazine…

  • Mel

    Fun, naughty stuff we like? I think most M.I.A. fans would prefer the minimalist, Suicide-sampled aggression of Born Free than this. Not to say that this is bad, it just feels a bit safe and dull for an M.I.A. song.

  • Astro Boy

    She can knock on any artist she wants (gaga) so long as she keeps on pushing those boundaries like she does. Go MIA!

  • Kiesha

    This has got to be a joke. She ripped on Gaga and now she’s biting Gaga’s style.

    I’d much rather have an album filled with tracks like Born Free than this garbage.

    • giancana

      Ummmm, MIA was out long before Gaga.

  • Marcus

    Yeah, the only people who expect “fun, naughty stuff” from M.I.A. are the fans who just jumped on after “Paper Planes” hit big. I like this (and “Born Free”) quite a bit, but I think that’s why most original fans of M.I.A. like her…she’s all over the place. For Kala, she first teased with “XR2″ which was a left turn from “Galang” and whatnot. Then came “Bird Flu” and “Boyz,” which sounded bizarre on their own. But as a whole, Kala made sense.

  • Phil

    “Paper Planes” was never intended to be a HUGE pop hit, but trust Interscope head Ron Fair isn’t going to let M.I.A. go way of the dodo..they needed an obv. pop song for radio, this is it! And I like this a hell of alot more better than “Born Free”. The anarchist side of M.I.A. isn’t helping her sell actual records, all you avant-garde hipsters here making her out to be this wicked forward-thinker need to stop. She is smart, smart enough to know she needs to release songs like this to keep the younger kids interested, regardless of whom she thinks she sounds like, and YES, for everyone TRULY STUPID, she & Gaga are on the SAME label (Interscope). All the swipes at her were probably carefully crafted by label-head Ron Fair to get her name back in the rumor mill. The music biz is an industry who uses the press to their FULL advantage, but in today’s tabloid-centric TMZ/Perez world, everyone fails tro see how they are used also! -XXXO non-Gossip Boy

    • hill

      Finally, someone who sees what is going on. I thought the Ga Ga vs. M.I.A. stuff was a nice set up for the violent Born Free video and shock single. I’m sure Interscope knew that wasn’t going to get air play on the radio. But it was aimed for the web to get people talking about her political techno antics. Now she is able to release this pop song without a majority of people saying she sold out. Born Free had to come out first for her to keep that rep. Now Interscope is free to release a song that is aimed a people who actually buy albums.

      This is a nice album set up. Hopefully her album doesn’t leak too early.

    • jon


      i just wonder that since she is indeed targeting a younger/pop-listening audience, the video for her other single born free that was just released may have a negative impact on her appropriateness. cha-ching.

      they’re all a bunch of sell-outs

  • h3ff

    She sounds pretty bored. Born Free is better. MIA is an artist with a POV, not a popstar.

  • Paul Escobar

    What a ridiculous headline: “That’s more like it”

    You sound like some phony Interscope suit who’s only happy when artists make shallow sex jingles.

    Just admit that you’re really “worried” because the video for “Born Free” was overtly political, and offended corporate America’s apolitical sensibilities.

    Anyone with ears could tell “Born Free” was 100 times better than this crap “XXXO”.

    (By the way, if you want great M.I.A. sex songs, try “Bucky Done Gun” & “Jimmy”)

  • XXXO

    HAATERRS!! This is the crackest song I’ve heard in a lonnnggg time!! Its going to be HUGE! Get with the movement people. .DONE.

  • SomethingBia

    BORN FREE IS ONE OF THE BEST M.I.A EVER… so i don’t why this is called “now this is more like it”… it may be more like whats hot on in the industry today, but “Born Free” is the straight up raw M.I.A. all her TRUE fans know and love. It’s the perfect evolution from Arular and Kala.

    That said, this song isn’t my favorite, but I like it better the second time around. I see myself playing it more in more in the near future. The “dance” beat may not be what we expected from M.I.A. but she’s in no way jocking gaga. You can clearly see her own swag in the intricacies of the instrumentals.
    Although these two singles are complete opposites, like Marcus said about “Kala”, I’m sure the album will fit together as a whole.

  • riacrdo

    this s*@t sucks…alot. and phil, chillout.

    • Phil

      Why is it when someone pulls the curtain back and shares information that other people might not know, they’re told to chill out?! But you expect me to respect YOUR controubtion to this item after you felt the need to curse. Learn some respect for others. Just cause you’re typing on a keyboard doesn’t mean it gives you the right to make an un-necessary remark. I’m not the internet police by any means, but seriously if you wanna voice your opinion, do so in a way you want your opinion respected.

      • Jim

        I think the reason you need to stop is your aversion to considering M.I.A. to be forward thinking. Whether you like it or not, her previous two albums were forward thinking and ground breaking, while containing accessible pop moments. I don’t expect anything less from her upcoming album.

      • Phil

        Jim, I respect your opinion, but I also wish to point out, had “Paper Planes” NOT appeared in commercials for PINEAPPLE EXPRESS and later that year SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, she would never ever had a top 10 pop hit & the album would have been lost on the charts much like “Kala”. I never said she wasn’t forward thinking, why is it when someone expresses an opinion, they’re a hater instead of knowledgeable!? Thats wreong with blogs. No one resprects intelligence. I’m saying “Born Free” isn’t going to be found on any radio stations anytime soon, and mtv.com surely won’t even air the video, but they will of course support “XXXO”. And the fact that there is another M.I.A. post here today on EW.com about an interview where she joked about a Justin Bieber video, goes to prove my point further, that she is now giving DELIBERATE interviews with sound bites referring to current pop super stars Gaga & now Bieber. So regardless of how YOU feel about how forward thinking M.I.A. is, I am commenting on how she is throwing her name around in interviews with pop contemporaries for the sake of them websites like this giving her shine, when her album doesn’t even drop til July 13th & no radio stations are playing her current singles. As I stated in my original post, The music biz is an industry who uses the press to their FULL advantage, but in today’s tabloid-centric TMZ/Perez world, everyone fails to see how they are used also! So again, I respect your opinion, but you are missing my point entirely, hope Iw as able to help you out.

  • alter_ebro

    eh. confused now. who the hell is maya? guess she needs to figure that out as well. Born Free, mind-blowingly good. XXXO, interesting in a different way, definitely produced to appeal to a different audience.

  • exexexohh

    I think people need to chill out. People are going to have different opinions, why do people get into arguments when their opinions are completely opposite. I love this song. I love anything and WILL love anything she puts out. And she wasn’t trying to get airplay. She never was. Just Paper Planes became big. She is just trying out new styles. Not everyone has to like it. And M.I.A. can do whatever the hell she wants, you’re going to hate her because she wanted variety. Open your minds a litte.

  • brohamulus

    Born Free gave me hope, this kills it. It’s radio friendly pop-mill stuff, indistinguishable from anything else out there.

  • Samuel

    I love it!

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