If you were looking for the aural equivalent of a “middle finger gesture” you’re not going to find it on ‘Birthday Song’. Following ‘Give Me All Your Luvin’, Madge has teamed up with M.I.A for a second collaboration on the deluxe edition of ‘MDNA’.
The track is oddly uncharacteristic of either artist. With its nursery rhyme melody and choppy beat, there’s a hippy dippy atmosphere to the track that, if anything, recalls Madonna’s 60s-ish William Orbit collaborations like ‘Beautiful Stranger’ (and, unsurprisingly, one of the key lines is “and the beat goes on” referencing the Sonny and Cher classic from 1967).
For M.I.A, however, this is a million miles away from the urgent defiance on songs like ‘Born Free’ or ‘Paper Planes’. On ‘Birthday Song’ she sounds (*hipster gasp*) breathlessly zingy. If there was a Sesame Street puppet version of her, it would be trilling this melody about “my type of birthday, there’s no hangover,” whilst doing a hand-jive with Elmo.
Still, on an album that’s garnered much press for its violent, cinematic lyrics, you can helped but be charmed by the contrast ‘Birthday Song’ radiates, with its pure, bright eyed happiness. The lovey-dovey chug of the track and the sentiment (“I know it’s gonna be a good day/Oh yeah, today is my birthday”) is enough to make Guy Ritchie smile. Well, maybe.
But the real way to judge its success is: could it displace ‘Happy Birthday’ as the song of choice on everyone’s candle blowing-out day? Possibly only in the Ciccone household.