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Blog 8, Kutner

M.I.A created the 2012 pop song, “Bad Girls” as a dedication to the “women to drive movement,” which was a movement dedicated to help Saudi women get the right to drive as it was illegal for all Saudi-an women. Most listeners agreed with the message that M.I.A was trying to convey, as they saw this as a pressing issue for women’s rights in the Saudian culture. However, there were many  who did not agree with her point she was trying to make, as they thought only men should be the drivers as it’s not appropriate for women in Sudia to do so. Many critics criticized M.I.A for confronting the women’s rights issues in Saudia, as well as having women wearing hijabs driving cars in the music video, which was strictly forbidden. M.I.A was also accused of portraying Arabic stereotypes in the music video as the video portrays the Arabic culture. 

“Bad girls” is considered to be apart of several genres, including World-beat, Contemporary R&B, Dance/Electronic. Being considered a piece of popular music, I don’t think music in this genre is necessarily political. A lot of pop songs are created as more catchy, “feel-good” songs, that usually don’t carry strong political messages. However, I think more artists nowadays are  using the power of music as a way to create change, and I think more songs in the pop genre are conveying political messages.

Some lyrics are:

Live fast, die young

Bad girls do it well

Hands up, hands tied

Don’t go screaming if I blow you with a bang

I’m coming in the Cherokee


There’s steam on the window screen

Take it, take it

World’s bouncing like a trampoline

When I get to where I’m going, gonna have you trembling

When I get to where I’m going, gonna have you saying it

Lookin’ in the rear view, swaggin’ goin’ swell

Shift gear, automatic, damned if I do

Who’s gonna stop me when I’m coming through?

Don’t go screaming if I blow you with a bang

These strong lyrics show that women have to take charge in the fight for their rights, and that the Sudian culture should allow it. It mentions how Suadi Arabian women are being murdered for driving, as stated “leavin’ boys behind ’cause it’s legal just to kill.” Overall the lyrics are portraying women as empowered beings who need to take charge for what is right. Additionally, in the music video, the people sitting in the drivers’ seats for close-ups are all women, to help convey this message. These women are considered “bad girls” for going against the rules, however they were doing what was needed to be done for their deserved rights.

One musical characteristic that stood out to me right away was the rhythm. The whole song in general has very Middle Eastern and Indian sounds. The song starts out right away with a dupal beat that sets the tone for the rest of the song. More beats are then added into the song, with a medium tempo throughout.  There is also the unique timbre of the instruments throughout the song that gives off the Middle Eastern sounds. This is appropriate due to the fact that it was unique for Middle Eastern women to be speaking out for their rights and demand for what they deserved. M.I.A really encompased Middle Eastern women and their needs in her music, and used it to fight for what was right.

Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uYs0gJD-LE

1 Comment

  1. Hi! I really like your song choice. I actually never heard of the song, “Bad Girls”. It seems like a very interesting song with a very interesting story and meaning behind it. I like how you mentioned the harsh, strong tone of the lyrics because it shows the passion and the fight of these women. Lastly, I find it interesting that the song sounds Middle Eastern and Indian because it is for Saudi Arabian women. Good and informative post 🙂

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