The xx in xoxo

Some videos are so good that no words are needed to praise them – numbers are enough.

This video partitions the song that it accompanies into 18 episodes, 8 seconds each (with exception of the last scene, which lasts 16 seconds – after all, also in TV all proper season finals are double-features). As a matter of fact, the 8-second-intervals turn out to be so fast that it takes you a little while to figure out what's going on.

The repetitive, yet varied scenes echo the varied repetitions of the musical motifs. In only a little more than two and a half minutes, you see 16 kisses between the same couple – presumably the highest ever density in a music video. In the two remaining scenes there should be kisses as well – which pain through their absense.

The initial distance between the kissing couple and the camera seems to reduce over time from one scene to the next. Glaring spotlights often shine on the kissing couple in the beginning and also flash up at the end of most scenes – sometimes less, sometimes more bright. The final scene may be clear, however the way the couple got there is not – just as neither the music nor the lyrics tell what the singer is feeling about the situation.

The xx – Islands (2009):

Completely contrary to All Saints' – Never Ever, the content and form couldn't fit together better. The title of the piece is “Islands”, everybody in the video is dressed in black. The theme of “I am yours now” is unusually characterized without further referring to the addressee of the lines:  “So now I don't ever have to leave/I've been found out/So now I'll never explore”. The awkwardness of these lyrics is reflected in the calm tone of the music that lacks the enthusiasm and overjoy about the other person commonly associated with getting together.

It also fits that the last word of the chorus “explore” almost sounds like “xo” – but then again, the only reason to think that is due to “Gossip Girl” who should be reading “You know you love me. Hugs and Kisses, Gossip Girl”, yet prefers to verbalize the o's and x's in her infamous “You know you love me. xoxo – Gossip girl.”, thereby cynically revealing the emptiness of virtual hugs and kisses:

Gossip Girl – Opening (2007):

In the 16 October 2010 issue of the NME, Ellen E Jones' reviews the movie “The Social Network” and notes: “Their Zuckerberg – obsessed with the outward signs of social advancement, yet completely uninterested in real relationships – isn't just a man: he is a metaphor for an age that's made mini-Zuckerbergs of us all.” (Interestingly, Jones' observation cannot be found online – instead, the website contains a completely different review of the same movie, one that does without any implicit criticism of the online reader.)

The way facebook transforms relationships and the way gossip girl transforms hugs and kisses is also the way that the xx transform the concept of islands in pop. For there used to be a time when pop proclaimed: “Islands in the stream -that is what we are/no one in between – how can we be wrong/sail away with me – to another world/and we rely on each other – from one lover to another”.

Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers – Islands in the Stream (1983):

You know you love me this week.