What I Am: Listening to This Week

M.I.A., Kala (2007) and Arular (2005)

I listen to a lot of different kinds of music, and I am always trying to discover more and new bands, musicians, sounds.

I don’t play an instrument — I can’t play an instrument. I’m utterly tone deaf. I used to play piano, but I don’t remember how to read the left hand music any more, so it doesn’t count.

I can’t make music; I don’t know a lot of technical details about how music is made. I’m not 100% sure what a producer does.

I consider myself a pure music fan — maybe not even a fan insofar as that is short for “fanatic”. I don’t know what some of my favorite bands or musicians do when they are not making music. I don’t know who’s going with whom (although I did hear something about John Mayer and Jennifer Aniston. Is that still on?) There are times — and I’m not proud of this — that I am not even sure where some of my favorite bands or musicians hail from. (I look it up on Wikipedia if I’m not sure.)

I like music. I like music that makes me react viscerally — after it catches my ear, it catches at my heart or my brain or my emotions. Or all of them. It moves me or makes me move. I like a good catchy pop tune with bleak lyrics or a droning musical odyssey or fast & furious punk rock. I’m like those people who say about art, “I don’t know much about it, but I know what I like.”

Granted this also may not make me the most qualified music critic in the world, either. I know a lot about the history of music, especially the types of music I like; I know a lot about influences, inspirations.

Which is all a long-winded way of saying: I have discovered M.I.A., and she is good.

iTunes calls her sound Dance/Electronica; I guess I’ll go with that. It’s beat-based, world rap. M.I.A. isn’t just a pretty face; she has something strong to say. I especially admire her for her sampling/mash ups: you’ll find The Clash, the Pixies, New Order, plus a host of guest DJs/rappers.

The other notable thing about M.I.A. is that Bun turned me onto her. We were flipping around on the radio and came across World Cafe on WYEP; M.I.A. was the featured artist. Bun was transfixed. She stood in front of the stereo for an entire song — stood, stock still. Bun never stands still.

When the song was over, Bun turned to me and demanded: “More.” Another M.I.A. song came on.

I’ll have to make her a little mix of “age appropriate” M.I.A. songs. She’s gonna dig it.

rpm choice cut: Paper Planes.