Watch M.I.A.’s New Video For “XXXO” (Plus: “Illy Girl”)


Unless we’re mistaken, the visuals here–roses, galloping unicorns, swans, hearts, leopards, swords, gold jewelry–are pulled from (or at least are referencing) the photoshoot that so appalled the New York Times Magazine‘s Lynn Hirschberg back in May, which she described like so:

There were dozens of shots, each featuring Maya dripping in gold. She was wearing seven or eight thick gold bracelets on each wrist, heavy earrings and what appeared to be ropes of gold attached at the throat like a tight gold turtleneck. “I wanted to look like an Iranian princess,” Maya said. In the photos, the rest of her outfit was casual: a black hoodie, black T-shirt and black leggings. In each shot, Maya was carefully placed in a scene, like a gold-clad visitor from another planet. In shot after shot, she was perched on different thrones, posing with dancers, encased in a bubble ascending to heaven. Three Mayas were disco-dancing together on a fluorescent Day-Glo floor, two Mayas were facing each other in a heart, multiple Mayas were covered in cascading roses. She was positioned in front of a pyramid, in a pyramid and above a pyramid. In most of the shots, Maya appeared to be a very wealthy deity.

Hirschberg went on to say that between the Givenchy jewelry and the cheap backgrounds, “the contrast, while striking, also seemed a little unkind.” But whether this is M.I.A.’s retort–the video looks great–or an artist just keeping it moving despite her one of her more notorious detractors, it works. Hopefully we can put that whole “Born Free” thing behind us now? [@_M_I_A_]

Update: Vulture brings word of another new M.I.A. video today, for “Illy Girl.” It is…disorienting: