Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Saturday Night Fever: M.I.A. "Jimmy"

One of the best songs of the year gets a far-out video makeover...

M.I.A. "Jimmy" [Hi-Res]

dir. by Nezar Khamal

Disco Dancer, which provides the inspiration for "Jimmy," is one of the great soundtracks of the 80’s, and the Indian musical is exactly the sort of gaudy mess that fits perfectly with M.I.A.’s aesthetic of celebrating the forgotten and marginalized art of the third-world. While the song channels the extravagant emotions of unrequited Bollywood love through dreamy guitars, gorgeous epic strings and her most impassioned vocal performance yet, the video amplifies the effect by riffing on space travel, Buddhism and the "disco" theme.*

The final shot is of M.I.A. tearfully calling out to her lover Jimmy, and it initially seems at odds with the buoyant energy of the previous 3 minutes. It's a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it's also a telling moment of sincerity. The artist is, after all, working within a specific style which calls for dramatic gestures and visuals which convey the grandness of human feeling. In the 1983 movie the song "Jimmy Jimmy" is sung by the female protagonist during a dance competition, meant to entice her suddenly hesitant partner to come join her on stage. He never does gather the courage, and she finishes the performance alone. M.I.A. extracts the metaphor from the scene, using it as a mirror for her own struggles with love - dancing and singing in hopes of capturing the wavering heart of her own Jimmy. In many ways her spin on Disco Dancer (which to be honest, is remembered more for its music than its feeble plot) is more romantic and more animated than the original scene - she makes it brilliantly more Bollywood.

*Parts of this paragraph are quoted from my own review of the track at Stylus

1 comment:

Richard S. said...

Thanks, this is great. And coincidentally... It was just three days ago when I wrote a post about Basement Jaxx's old Hollywood parody video for "Romeo" and wondered what kind of video M.I.A. would make for "Jimmy"!

Anyway, I'm linking to this on my music blog. I've linked to posts of yours before, at a more political blog, but I've wanted for some time to start a blog more focused on music. From the title and the big picture on the right side, it might even seem a lot like an M.I.A. fan blog. Though I'm trying very hard not to make it that - but it's difficult for me not to...

Depth of Focus Videographies: Radiohead / Bjork / Michael Jackson / Bowie