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With the release of the awesome, Internet-anticipated debut album from Santogold tomorrow, the eclectic Brooklyn chanteuse will officially enter the competitive international race to be the next M.I.A. Yes, even though her own debut, Arular, was released more than three years ago, Maya Arulpragasam — the winsome Sri Lankan singer whose excellent, low-selling albums were covered in a disproportionately huge number of magazine features and blog posts (most focusing on her wacky upbringing as the daughter of a Tamil militant) — has not yet appointed a successor. While Santogold has the advantage of working with M.I.A.’s producers (Diplo and Switch), she’s not the only one-named electro-pop hopeful vying to be Pitchfork’s next favorite commercially disappointing MySpace phenomenon — she’ll face stiff competition from a raft of other knob-twiddling robo-divas. Who has the edge? Vulture plays oddsmaker, after the jump.
Exciting, easily parrotable backstory? Not really. A native of Saint-Brieuc, France, Yelle (real name: Julie Budet) rose to fame when her “Je veux te voir,” a dis track about a well-known French rapper’s small penis, became a hit on MySpace.
Pros: Her forthcoming album Pop-Up is awesome. Like M.I.A., she is a terrible dresser.
Cons: Unlike M.I.A., Yelle refuses to discuss politics in her music or interviews, so owning her album and reading her press will not necessarily make you feel smarter or more worldly.
Odds of being the next M.I.A.: 10 to 1
Exciting, easily parrotable backstory? Sort of. Twenty-year-old Anna-Catherine Hartley was born in Miami but moved to Hong Kong when she was 4. During a sailing trip, her family’s boat was hit with a typhoon and sunk in the Philippine Sea. (She lived.) At 15, she relocated to Paris, started dating a D.J., and set up a MySpace page. A deal with Ed Banger Records followed soon after. Hey, it’s not life on the run from the Sri Lankan army, but it should still make for some easy magazine feature writing.
Pros: Her 2006 single “Pop the Glock” features M.I.A.-ish gunshot samples.
Cons: Supposedly has a new, decent album on the way, but her early singles were, frankly, terrible.
Odds of being the next M.I.A.: 15 to 1
Exciting, easily parrotable backstory? Sure, we guess. A Swedish former teen-pop star, Robyn had a late-nineties radio hit with “Show Me Love”; then she quit her label and reinvented herself on 2005’s awesome Robyn, which is finally being released in the U.S. tomorrow.
Pros: Has literally been missing in action for the past several years.
Cons: Possibly owing to her not being related to any Tamil militants, she seems to have had little difficulty obtaining an American work visa.
Odds of being the next M.I.A.: 3 to 1
Exciting, easily parrotable backstory? Nope! Born in Philadelphia, Santogold (née Sandi White) fronted punk bands and studied hand drumming at Wesleyan University. She was once an A&R person at Epic Records but quit to write songs for R&B singer Res in 2001.
Pros: Her genre-smashing, Diplo-enhanced album — which fuses dub, dance hall, and pretty much everything else while still being totally listenable — makes her the front-runner, even if her upbringing was marked by few violent political uprisings.
Cons: Not quite as globe-trotting as her sound implies; Santogold was, tragically, recorded on just one continent.
Odds of being the next M.I.A.: 5 to 2