While she, of course, is still trying for her second…
Martin Skidmore: Another sign of Rusko’s success, he produces this single by someone whose music-paper-word-count:sales ratio must be extraordinarily high. It has her usual jagged rhythms and sense of aggression in the music, though the lyrics are kind of cutesy rather than confrontational. The beats are firm and I like the twiddly high bits, but it doesn’t strike me as one of her more memorable singles.
Al Shipley: I’m always excited to hear something new from one of the greatest pop geniuses of the past 5 years — by whom I of course mean the song’s co-producer, Blaqstarr. Can’t say it’s his best work, though, or maybe his contributions are buried a little too deep under those of his collaborators.
Chuck Eddy: So, is this supposed to be her commercial sellout move? Don’t recall her ever sounding so generic. Which just goes to show how artsy dance pop got, I guess. And Britney’s done worse, now and then. But the tweeting-on-iPhone stuff can go to hell.
Alfred Soto: Merely booty-bumping instead of startling like “Born Free,” this also sounds like retrenchment, an assurance to alarmists who actually thought her muddled (to be kind) politics wilted her disco instincts. I wish she could summon more vocal commitment to this salvo in the love war than when she’s playing ghetto defendant.
Alex Macpherson: Awkward: M.I.A.’s trying to do a pop song, and inevitably she can’t quite manage it. It’s not a bad song — certainly adequately catchy — and the arrangement is actually rather great: deep, rich, dramatic. The problem is Our Lady of the Truffled Fries herself: she’s never been anyone’s idea of a vocal talent, but whenever she moves outside of her quasi-dancehall rhythmic toasting, she sounds utterly lost — invisible when she tries to do subtlety in the verses, grating when she tries to let rip on the chorus’s explosion. Also, the line “you tweeting me like Tweety Bird on your iPhone” is exactly how a Nicki Minaj hater would try to parody her.
Jonathan Bogart: “You want me be somebody who I’m really not” is already plastered all over the Livejournals and Tumblrs of sensitive teenagers — About 1,200 results (0.28 seconds) — and it’s the standout line of the song, its watery defiance demanding attention and getting stuck in heads the way the dull relationship-electro surrounding it utterly fails to do.
John Seroff: Following the lousy Suicide rip-off that was “Born Free”, the accompanying “controversial” video, trufflefrygate and a personal quick relisten and reconfirmation of Kala as severely overrated, I was primed to write off MIA for the year until “XXXO” got its hooks in me. Credit where it’s due: it’s the glistening, constantly evolving, slow build production that’s kept me coming back, not the inscrutably dumb lyrics (“tweeting me like Tweety Bird on your iPhone”, ugh) or Arulpragasam’s lackadaisically delivered, mega-tweaked vocals. You could likely have thrown anyone on this track and made it a hit. MIA’s uncanny knack at being in the right place at the right time yet again deserves fair appreciation; it’s a rare skill in and of itself.
Michaelangelo Matos: Yeesh: a chorus so annoying and self-serving it’s almost as if she’s started quoting her own interviews, complete with pro forma Totally ’80s keyboards. Makes me wonder what she’s thinking.
Anthony Easton: So this is what happened to the spiders from mars. Is it symbolic, does it matter at all, that the basic love song that is at the core of this track is over come with techno noise? MIA continues to confuse, maybe on purpose, maybe by accident, the difference between politics and sex.