Settle down, it isn’t a Donna Summer cover.

In the midst of growing rumors that she’ll join Madonna onstage at the Super Bowl halftime show, M.I.A. has released the first glimpse at her upcoming fourth LP, to be released this summer. When last we heard from Ms. Arulpragasam, she had issued the ASCII abusive /\/\ /\ Y /\ album. Following two very solid releases (2005’s Arular and 2007’s Kaya), M.I.A.’s third album left much to be desired – a few hot tracks scattered about a generally uncompelling LP. It was the kind of release that raised the question, “Had M.I.A.’s star faded out so quickly?”

“Bad Girls” doesn’t offer much guidance in answering that question. It’s not bad. But it doesn’t indicate a radical new direction for M.I.A.’s upcoming album, which is frankly what she needs. She burst onto the scene in 2005 with a stunningly unique sound blending a variety of genres reflective of her cosmopolitan upbringing. Like much of the music on /\/\ /\ Y /\ however, “Bad Girls” replicates the M.I.A. formula rather than branching out into new artistic directions. While enjoyable in a “this-sounds-exactly-like-I-thought-it-would” kind of way, the track does little in the way of generating excitement and interest in M.I.A.’s upcoming album. Hopefully the album proper has M.I.A. branching out a bit and pushing the limits of the stylistic box that she’s crafted for herself.

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