Missy Elliott! Rye Rye! M.I.A.’s “Bad Girls”! Switch! Together!!!(extra exclamation points removed for space)!
Every one of those exclamation points was completely necessary, including the ones we took out. If you’re looking for the Platonic ideal of a M.I.A. remix, this is pretty much it. You’re starting with one of the best and, it’s looking likely, most overlooked tracks of the year. You’ve got Rye Rye, Maya’s long-time protege who finally released her splashy Go! Pop! Bang! this year. You’ve got Switch, the half of production team Major Lazer who isn’t the suddenly-ubiquitous (and feuding with M.I.A.) Diplo. And you’ve got Missy Elliott, the genre iconoclast whose influence made possible both their careers and who’s working on a comeback of her own, one that until now involved perfunctory Katy Perry remixes and unpromoted Demi Lovato tracks and nothing as exciting as this. The only person missing is Diplo, but even he’s here in spirit.
There’s not much to the original “Bad Girls”; it’s mostly Danja’s beat and M.I.A.’s catchphrases. So it is with the remix. M.I.A’s catchphrases (“live fast, die young, bad girls do it well,” “my chain! hits my chest…”) are here in sampled form, and Switch’s beat is just as good, spacious and arresting, with certain bits echoing Timbaland (a sampled-toddler “yeah!” that suggests the stock-sound baby on “Are You That Somebody“) and, inevitably, Diplo (the marching-band beat throughout most of this, which thankfully never turns into a drop.)
Everyone else here’s also close to top form. Missy Elliott shows up first, sounding about fifty times more alert than she ever has this year, and Rye Rye’s her scrappier, more snippetized foil. There’s another verse by M.I.A., too, and the company’s apparently invigorated her; there’s very little of her laid-back to the point of laconic rapping from the original “Bad Girls.” Marc Hogan SPIN described this as “Thelma & Louise juicing A League of Their Own with human growth hormone,” which is both accurate and a deserved one-sentence advertisement for the remix. Bad girls, it turns out, do do it well.