M.I.A. has made her private distaste for her Lynn Hirschberg-penned profile in The New York Times‘ Sunday magazine — in which Hirschberg took aim at the Sri Lankan MC for her sharp views on her homeland’s politics and hyperviolent video for “Born Free” — as public as possible: she tweeted Hirschberg’s cell phone number the day the story broke online, and whipped up a scathing song titled “Im a Singer” over the weekend. On the track, M.I.A. goes on the attack, rhyming, “I’m a singer/Never said anything else/I didn’t lie to you/Thinking of somebody else.” (The song title coyly refers to Hirschberg’s perhaps-sarcastic line that on her new album, “Maya even sings.”) M.I.A.’s rebuttal is the latest in a long line of angry response anthems — here are five of the best:
Guns n’ Roses, “Get in the Ring”
On perhaps the most blatant attack on music critics and journalists, Axl Rose takes on writers who allegedly printed lies about the band’s wild behavior and took quotes out of context. Rose goes so far as to name-names, threatening Hit Parade writer Andy Secher, Kerrang journalist Mick Wall and Spin magazine founder Bob Guccione Jr., the son of porn king Bob Guccione. “What, you pissed off ’cause your dad gets more pussy than you?” Rose sneers on the 1991 track from Use Your Illusion II. “Fuck you/Suck my fuckin’ dick.”
Sonic Youth, “Kill Yr. Idols”
On this 1983 song, the then-kings of New York’s underground noise scene took on Village Voice chief music critic Robert Christgau, who had dismissed the band’s music in reviews. “I don’t know why you wanna impress Christgau,” Thurston Moore sings. “Ahhh, let that shit die.” The band later released the song as a single, retitling it “I Killed Christgau With My Big Fucking Dick.” The critic, who has admitted that he hated the attack, responded by listing the song as one of his year’s favorites in the Voice‘s “Pazz and Jop” critics poll, only he renamed it “I Killed Christgau With My Big Fucking Dick and Now It Don’t Work No More.”
Bob Dylan, “Ballad of a Thin Man”
“You walk into the room/With your pencil in your hand,” Dylan sings on this 1965 track. “You try so hard/but you don’t understand/Just what you’ll say/When you get home.” While Dylan hasn’t talked specifics about his lyrical intent, director Todd Haynes interpreted the song the way fans have for years — as a dig at reporters. In his 2007 biopic I’m Not There, Haynes used the song (as performed by Stephen Malkmus) in a scene where a journalist experiences a hallucinatory nightmare.
Public Enemy, “A Letter to the New York Post”
In 1991, Flavor Flav was arrested for assaulting then-girlfriend Karen Ross, an event that was covered so relentlessly by the Post, Public Enemy retaliated with this amped-up hip-hop editorial, where Flav slams the tabloid for using his name to sell papers. “Yo, New York Post, don’t brag or boast,” he raps, “dissin’ Flavor when he’s the butter on that you put on your toast.”
Britney Spears, “Piece of Me”
After facing down paparazzi at the drug store, the hair salon, the gas station, and club bathrooms galore, the pop star finally took her tabloid trailers to task on this 2007 song released at the peak of her well-documented downward spiral. Spears laments that even if she jetted to the Philippines, “They still goin’ put pictures of my derriere in the magazine.” A cruel fate made all the crueler by the amount of Auto-Tune drowning her voice on this catchy Blackout single.