M.I.A. is never going to become XL's biggest act, or surpass the legacy of Basement Jaxx. She's a sort of shallow nicety, someone who you have on your iTunes but who other people put on.
M.I.A’s life story may well be inspiring, like a hybrid of The Jungle Book and Die Hard, but am I alone in thinking the Oscar-nominated song ‘O Saya’ from Slumdog Millionaire is a bit weak? It’s far less exciting than your average Asian chart-topper, and as for M.I.A’s input - I found her little rap somewhat underwhelming, “One day I wanna be a star, so I get to hang in a bar”. I thought awards were based on meritocracy?
I remember being blown away by her break-through performance of 'Galang' at Glastonbury in 2005. The percussion, the tribal harmonies, the heavy-footed repetition … it was an incredibly contagious track. So much so that I bought her album in an over-priced Welcome Break on the way home from that very festival. In fact, I think I even almost admired her artwork at one point (a sort of hazy spray painty stencilly t-shirt sloganny potato shapey type thing, with lots of green). The song 'O Saya' is just warpy and boring though. I think the Who Wants to be a Millionaire? theme tune would have made a more apt nomination for Slumdog Millionaire. They could have at least turned it into a broken beat hip-hop number and have M.I.A. quipping “But we don’t wanna give you that” over the top.
Slumdog Millionaire is Danny Boyle’s big bad Bollywood version of Gurinder Charder's Bend It Like Beckham. It’s enjoyable, and the warm soundtrack is certainly well-fitting, but if the movie actually wins 9 Oscars, I think it will simultaneously diminish their worth.
I feel happy for Dev Patel though (Danny Boyle’s new boy muse, now that Leo’s all grown-up). Dev has officially out-paced the Skins pretty boy Nicholas Hoult, perhaps suggesting that acting is not just about squinting seductively in Youff-themed editorials of Vogue. Slumdog Millionaire will probably propel Dev Patel in the way that BILB propelled Knightley. I can just picture Dev’s mum nagging about the trophy polishing she’ll have to do, just after she’d hovered up all the crushed hula hoops from those pesky Skins parties.
P.s. I have to admit, I'm quite a Nicholas Hoult fan, he probably will go on to high things.
Words: Jack Cullen