UPDATE: M.I.A. felt like "Freedun" was too mainstream of a song, so she added Zayn and really drove that narrative home.
MIA told Annie Mac: “I handed the album in and I left to go to India. And Zayn called up and got on the song as I was on the way to the airport. I made the song a long time ago, and it was sort-of always too mainstream sounding for me.”
After careful consideration, she decided Zayn would be a perfect fit.
“It just seems perfect to have," she continued. "If I was going to have a collaboration, and have someone like Zayn, then this is the perfect song.”
The indie-pop singer previously said the two messaged each other on WhatsApp, a process M.I.A. is now calling “a virtual situation.”
“The song just kind of happened. He’s from Bradford and I always thought that was pretty cool.”
M.I.A. and Zayn's collaboration on "Freedun" is unsurprisingly phenomenal.
When M.I.A. revealed she had a song with the former One Directioner in the works, and that it was coordinated through messaging each other on WhatsApp, it seemed like an unlikely pairing. It might be, but the two pop stars sound brilliant together on the new A.I.M. track.
The "Bird Song" singer offers punchy lyrics over a sharp synth beat, singing "Do you wanna sign my petition? It's for the people with dedication. Some people fuck it up... Refugees learn about patience."
Zayn chimes in when the chorus hits, providing an understated softness to the aggressive song. He eventually shines on a solo towards the ends, whaling oohs and ahhs before M.I.A. joins in. It's a beautiful (and unexpected) push and pull between one another. It works.
“We have the same publishers and they wanted me to demo some songs for Zayn. Before I started writing properly my own stuff [for A.I.M.], I was thinking maybe I’ll write for other people instead," M.I.A. said of how the song came about. "I really wanted to write a song for Zayn….We had a couple people in common. And that’s how it came about. I didn’t really approach him for my own record until later on. First, I thought I wanted to try writing a song for him.”
A.I.M. drops September 9.