M.I.A. is known for making music that sounds like no one else, makes a political statement and is can't-get-it-out-of-your-head catchy. The rapper is a total badass — and if you didn't believe that before, then the song "Bad Girls," off her most recent album Matangi, makes it more than clear. Now, M.I.A. has released the video for "The New International Sound Pt. II," her new single that's also a collaboration with the French producer GENER8ION. The three-and-a-half-minute visual was shot at Shaolin Tagou, the largest martial arts training school in all of China. And the school's 36,000 pupils all appear in the video, performing a synchronized series of moves that is truly impressive.
Like many of her other songs and videos, "The New International Sound Pt. II," is slick and invigorating, but it also has a strong social message — in this case, the video celebrates the strength and resilience of girls. Just like "Paper Planes" discusses immigration and "Bad Girls" campaigned for the right of Saudi Arabian women to drive, "The New International Sound Pt. II" (which is also the name of GENER8ION's EP that features the song) is about more than a great hook — though it has that too.
The video focuses primarily on the young girls who train at the school. These are not cutesy kids playing around: they're athletes who demonstrate their impressive skills and dedication. And they could kick your butt. The video syncs their fight routines and exercises to the beat of the song, which only makes these kids' skills (which include gymnastics, boxing, sword fighting, wrestling and floor exercises) all the more thrilling to behold.
M.I.A. explained on Instagram that "The New International Sound Pt. II" mixtape will include two other as-yet-unreleased songs and that "it's one piece all joined together it goes country to country … the piece I'm making self directed is a piece of work that has no boundaries and transitions. it's one piece of work. … it's 12 mins long journey around the planet."
As long as we're allowed to watch M.I.A. take that journey, it all sounds great to us.