Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

M.I.A. – Finally

It’s happened to us, right in front of our faces, our feelings can’t describe it…


Alfred Soto: In which self-realization turns into self-cannibalization.

Eleanor Graham: At 41, Arulpragasam is still earnestly vowing to “keep it street” and evidently still satisfied with people just pretending to get her. Which is fine. Like all M.I.A. songs bar “Paper Planes” and “Bad Girls” on a good day, this sounds like a tension headache. It’s also a little bit beautiful, because it’s literally “Be The One” plus gunshots. That “finally/what haters say about me don’t worry me” is borderline bop territory. She’s going to be the Wikileaks Pia Mia. I just hope critics will acknowledge that this is, sonically, far less daring than, for example, the new Julia Michaels or Selena Gomez.

Alex Clifton: “Finally” is an oddly circular, looped track. Each verse gets repeated ad nauseum, which doesn’t work with the song’s message. It’s hard to buy lyrics like “I keep it moving forward to what’s ahead of me” when the song does the exact opposite of that by doubling back to them. What’s more, it’s best to come out, guns blazing, in a song about not caring about haters: instead, we have M.I.A. sounding like she doesn’t care in general. If only it were less tepid.

Will Adams: “I’m free, and I’m a freak”; “I keep it moving forward to what’s ahead of me”; “I’m someone’s shot of whiskey, not everyone’s tea”; “You’re gonna remember me”: so many statements wasted on a song that swiftly disproves them all.

Thomas Inskeep: Having not paid M.I.A. much attention in the past couple of years, this is the most traditional-sounding song I’ve heard from her in some time. I credit at least some of that to the production and co-write from Buraka Som Sistema’s João Barbosa, but don’t undervalue M.I.A.’s voice — she’s learned, it seems, how to get more out of it — and, as always, the way she so expertly can ride any rhythm. An unexpectedly sweet-sounding single.

Crystal Leww: I’m what feels like one of three actual M.I.A. fans left in the world. Her politics are dumb, but AIM had bangers, despite M.I.A.’s tendencies to do dumb stuff (like make a song with sword sounds). “Finally” is not a banger — it’s too chill — and as a result, M.I.A. is too exposed. Fine for an early spring day, but it’s summer now, and I just want the farty noises with M.I.A.’s energetic yelling.

Maxwell Cavaseno: I wish there was more to point to on this song than such an apparent connectivity in which every other pop star in the current era manages to reflect some sort of aspect of M.I.A. You’d not be wrong for expecting that maybe she would finally be at a point where she could assume a sort of resurgence given how the music world has never stopped being ready for her. Of course the issue is her pen, which has always been clumsy and space-casey, now is tinged with burnout wisdom new-age paeans to universal happiness and inner zen. The production here is, depending on how you look at it, generic enough to feel like 2nd string EDM or maybe people with a bit more focus, budget, and multi-tasking enhanced ideas she’d been playing with as far back as Piracy Funds Terrorism. However, nothing’s changing the fact that this? Is pretty weak!

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