Track Review

Is M.I.A.'s 'Borders' a Breakout Hit? Plus More of the Week's Best & Worst Singles

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M.I.A. attends the Stella McCartney show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2016 on Oct. 5, 2015 in Paris, France. 

The refugee crisis is a ripe topic for M.I.A., whose family fled civil war in Sri Lanka. "Borders" is one of her smoothest songs, with a dancehall throb and "Big Pimpin' "-style hook. But simplistic, if heartfelt ­lyrics ("Freedom, I'dom, me'dom/Where's your we'dom?") don't measure up to the subject or the singer. -- Jem Aswad

Animal Collective rarely drops duds, but some of its songs can be too overwrought for all but the most die-hard fans of its experimental pop. Following the lead of off-kilter but sugary ­Merriweather Post Pavilion, this first peek of new album Painting With hits the right balance, with a rush of layered vocals, stomping percussion and even a snippet of The Surfaris' 1963 classic "Wipeout." -- Joe Lynch

Badu takes a page from Adele's book and greets former flame André 3000 on dreamy ballad "Hello," the emotional apex of her great But You Can't Use My Phone mixtape. The ex-lovers (whose relationship produced excellent late-'90s collabos and a son) mix drunk-dial messages with sweet love notes as they coo in unison, "Don't change for me, babe." -- Adelle Platon

This story originally appeared in the Dec. 12 issue of Billboard.