Sunday, August 3, 2008

CAN "PAPER PLANES" FLY?

More good things come to those who wait. Weeks ago, I made the offhand comment that if I ruled the world, M.I.A. would be one of the biggest female stars in it. The planet is no more mine now than it was then, but it looks like I might be getting my wish anyway. This week, "Paper Planes"--the third single from M.I.A.'s 2007 Kala CD and my favorite song on it--jumped from 55 to 36 in its second week on the Hot 100.

Given the temperamental nature of the charts nowadays, it might a short-lived blaze of glory, but something tells me that will not be the case. Thanks to the tune's prominent placement in the trailer for the new Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy, Pineapple Express, I suspect that the U.S. is finally catching on to what I've known since her 2005 debut, Arular: M.I.A. is a singular talent with huge commercial potential. "Paper Planes"--a mix of dub, reggaeton, hip hop, industrial percussion, gunshots, social commentary and the sound of a cash register opening--is certainly among her most accessible tracks, but it's nonetheless uncompromising.

What's more impressive is that the U.S. is driving the bandwagon this time around. The single has yet to dent the charts in M.I.A.'s native UK, which means that for once, the Yanks are the tastemakers. I would have expected Robyn featuring Kleerup's "With Every Heartbeat" to ride its international success up the U.S. charts, but so far so not good. I'll take what I can get, though. M.I.A., welcome to the U.S. Top 40. May the path to No. 1 be paved with multiplatinum.

For your listening pleasure, M.I.A.'s previous creative high-water mark, from Arular: "Hombre"
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