“Freedun” is M.I.A.’s most direct pop song since “Paper Planes” – and it’s great

M.I.A. releases A.I.M. next week, and following “Borders,” “Go Off,” and “Bird Song,” her ZAYN-featured single “Freedun” is the latest track from her new set to see release. It’s also her most direct push into the Top 40 since Kala single “Paper Planes,” and her best single since Matangi‘s “Bad Girls.” While the latter was more abrasive, hard-edged, “Freedun” glides by effortlessly. You get the feeling M.I.A. could craft an entire album in this vein, with its cleansing synths, its confident, assuring vocals. On her breakthrough hit single, M.I.A. wanted to take your money; she’d give you weed or weapons or an escape in exchange for your *cashregistersoundeffect.wav*. Here, she still wants your *cashregistersoundeffect.wav*, but her desires are more wholesome, and you can hear it throughout “Freedun.” “Send me your money, and I’ll send you my song,” she warmly sings, before asking for reassurance at the track’s end. “Are you gonna sing my song tonight,” she sings, Zayn Malik adding gorgeous harmonizing vocals in the background. As she ad-libs in the song’s final moments, she answers her own question.

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