January 7, 2013

Part of adulthood is learning to be less of a prick, and rarely does anyone begrudge the human being capable of reflecting on their own foibles and character defects to become a more positive, open-minded person. But rarely does it negatively affect one’s professional prospects, either, which is part of this apparent comedy of errors regarding why recent BULLETT profilee M.I.A.’s newest album hasn’t yet been released: Because it’s too nice. In an interview with Australian publication Gold Coast, M.I.A. revealed that her label put the brakes on the new record so that she could find a way to channel her previously angsty self.

“At the moment, I’ve been told it’s too positive,” she said. “They’re like ‘You need to darken it up a bit.’ I don’t know what it is but as soon as I work that out.” Later: “It’s like ‘We just built you up as the public enemy No. 1 and now you’re coming out with all this positive stuff.”

Which is a weird position for any person to find themselves in—to be explicitly told that they’re better-liked as a moodier, brattier persona, regardless of the inner turmoil it might create. After all, “Live smart, die old / Good girls do it bold” doesn’t have the same rebellious jouissance to it. But maybe this is part of why I’ll never be a record label executive.

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