On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be… legendary!
M.I.A. – Paper Planes (2007)
” Paper Planes” is a song written and recorded by British hip hop artist M.I.A. for her second studio album, (2007). Produced and co-written by her and Diplo, the song features an interpolation of English rock band the Clash’s 1982 song ” Straight to Hell”, leading to its members being credited as co-writers.
We’re leaving Australia behind, dear reader, and making our way back to the UK and to London. Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam, known as M.I.A., was born in London but spent her early years in Sri Lanka before civil war brought her family back to the UK. M.I.A. began her recording career in 2002 and focused on a hybrid of electronica and hip hop. We join her in 2007 with the release of her second album, Kala, and from there 1001 Songs have lifted the track, Paper Planes.
Paper Planes was inspired by M.I.A.’s experiences of immigration monitors in the US and how difficult it was to be allowed into the country. The track satirises the US perception of individuals from war torn countries, this assumption that they are automatically terrorists and not perhaps, say, refugees fleeing a war zone and reaching out for sanctuary in another country. In the song, M.I.A. is the refugee wanting to enter the US but informing immigration of all the things she will do if allowed in such as murder and stealing money.
I had not heard of M.I.A. prior to this challenge but the title, Paper Planes, did resonate with me. I may have read about the track before rather than heard it. Both Kala and Paper Planes were critically acclaimed upon release with this song bagging a Grammy Award. M.I.A. continues to perform and now has five albums to her name with the last of those coming 2016. She continues to be fearless in her music, whether or not it leads to controversy.
Favourite songs so far: