Music Video: M.I.A - Paper Planes
"Paper Planes" is an alternative hip hop dance song written and produced by M.I.A., Diplo, and Switch for M.I.A.'s second studio album, Kala (2007). Its backing track is a sample from the 1982 song "Straight to Hell" by The Clash, while the chorus is based on that of the 1992 Wreckx-n-Effect song "Rump Shaker".
It was released as the album's third single in early 2008, but did not begin to achieve commercial success until June 2008, after appearing in a high profile film trailer and TV spot for the film Pineapple Express. A special remixed version of the song is featured in the film Slumdog Millionaire, as well as its soundtrack. The song reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song also appeared in the trailer for Michael Moore's documentary Capitalism: A Love Story. It was sampled in rappers T.I. and Jay-Z's single "Swagga Like Us", which reached #5 on the Hot 100. On 3 December 2008, the song was nominated for the Record of the Year at the 51st Grammy Awards.
"Paper Planes" was written and produced by M.I.A. and Diplo, recorded in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and includes kids from Brixton singing on the chorus. The song's beat and melody are reworked from the song "Straight to Hell" by The Clash; the sample was Diplo's idea. Additional production is by Switch, who mixed the track in London.
In an interview in August 2008, M.I.A. described the song as being a satire "about people driving taxicabs all day and living in a shitty apartment and 'appearing' really threatening to society. But not being so. Because, by the time you've finished working a 20-hour shift, you're so tired you [just] want to get home to the family". She added that she felt that listeners could choose how to interpret the gunshots and cash register ringing in the song's chorus. "People could say, 'Oh my God, this song is so violent,' but at the same time, there was a war in Iraq. I felt like certain people made so much money from selling ammunition and military weapons and stuff, and killed a million people, and it wasn't even an issue that was raised." She has expressed surprise at the song's wide commercial success, telling Rolling Stone in October 2008, "I always took pride in being a little underground - it really is a very unlikely record to cross over."
The music video for the song was directed by Bernard Gourley. It was made available on MTV's website two days prior to its premiere on TRL on 17 December 2007.
The video was shot in M.I.A.'s home neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York. It was originally planned to be shot in a factory on the border of Ecuador, but the location changed to accommodate M.I.A.'s time constraints while touring in the U.S.
In the video, several paper planes fly over New York City. M.I.A. appears as an immigrant who sells sandwiches from a van to several other New Yorkers. At the sound of the gunshots, quick shots of street signs, people, and restaurant signs appear. She can be seen wearing a Metallica Ride the Lightning shirt in several parts of the music video. Mike D and Adrock of the Beastie Boys, Rye Rye and Afrikan Boy make cameo appearances. M.I.A. uploaded the video onto her YouTube account in February 2008. "Paper Planes" has peaked at #1 on MuchOnDemand's Daily Ten and Number 1 on TRL. It appeared at Number 56 on BET's Notarized: Top 100 Videos of 2008 countdown.
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