It was just M.I.A. onstage last night on Conan. Well, M.I.A., a wheel of flashing lights and generous clouds of dry-ice smoke that drifted through as the singer performed “Y.A.L.A.” from her new album, Matangi.
Dressed in a diaphanous red robe and wearing sunglasses, M.I.A. shimmied from side to side and pinwheeled her arms while delivered the lyrics to the song (the title stands for “you always live again,” a possible response to Drake’s “Y.O.L.O.”) over clashing electro accompaniment from backing tracks. At the end, she folded her arms and struck a pose in classic hip-hop-style.
M.I.A. released Matangi earlier this month, the she would have preferred it to have come out sooner: the singer over the summer threatened to leak the album, her fourth, after Interscope Records pushed back the original April release date. M.I.A. is currently at work on a documentary about the album, and she kicked off a tour in New York earlier this month by having Wikileaks founder Julian Assange appear by Skype onstage.