Beyoncé’s “XO” Lyrics Meaning

As most commonly understood, the colloquialism XO translates to “hugs and kisses”. In other words, it is a term of endearment, specifically in the romantic sense. So by and large we can conclude that this is a love song which operates along a similar vein. And the sentiments expressed therein are stated to be generally applicable to different types of relationships.  Indeed when Beyoncé premiered “XO”, she asserted that it was written for her fans – not her husband, Jay-Z, as one would logically presume.

But performers are bound to make statements like that when they are actually performing in front of their fans. And by and large this track reads like a conventional romantic song. For instance, she refers to the addressee as “baby”, which is a common synonym for a sweetheart. And then she tells this person that she wants him to love her “lights out” and to ‘take her’. These are definitely not the type of expressions one would levy towards a family member, close friend or even fans.

Primary Sentiment of “XO”

But that aspect aside, the main sentiment expressed is indeed one of love.  The singer is basically telling the addressee that they must take advantage of the moment to love each other to the fullest. And she is making this statement in acknowledgment of the fact that no one is promised tomorrow.  Or stated differently, instead of taking tomorrow for granted, Beyoncé is encouraging the addressee to show her his level of affection in the present.

So this song is pretty simple in terms of its logic. It begins with a clip from the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, in which seven people unexpectedly and instantly lost their lives. And according to Beyoncé, that sample is intended to allude to the notion that a person’s life can end at any given moment. So in acknowledgment of such, she wants her romantic partner – or other loved one depending on how the lyrics are interpreted – to love her to the fullest today.

Lyrics of "XO"

Music Video

The music video to this song had Terry Richardson, who is better known as a fashion photographer, as its director. And it was filmed in Coney Island, the location of a famous amusement park in Brooklyn, New York.

Writing Credits for “XO”

This track was written and produced by Beyoncé along with Ryan Tedder and The-Dream. In fact “XO” has been noted for its resemblance to “Halo” (2009), another song Beyoncé and Tedder co-wrote and co-produced.

Release Date

“XO” came out, via Columbia Records and Parkwood Entertainment, as part of Beyoncé’s self-titled album on 13 December 2013. And it also served as the lead single from that project.

Beyoncé actually recorded this song while simultaneously suffering from a sinus infection. In fact the vocals used in the song are actually from the demo recording of “XO”, as in they were never re-recorded for the final cut.

Beyoncé used “XO” for a commercial she did for Toyota in 2014.

Notable Live Performances of “XO”

The first time Beyoncé performed this song live was during The Mrs. Carter World Tour. That performance took place in Chicago on the date of 13 December 2013.

Beyoncé also famously performed this tune at the emotional memorial for iconic athlete Kobe Bryant (as well as his daughter, Gianna). And she used the occasion to note that “XO” was actually one of the Black Mamba’s “favorite songs”.

Beyoncé’s emotional live performance of “XO” at the memorial service of the iconic basketball player Kobe Bryant. She performed this song along with “Halo”.

Another notable live performance of this tune was on 19 February 2014, during the BRIT Awards. This contributed to the song peaking at number four on the UK R&B Chart.

Chart Success

“XO” also broke the top 40 of the UK Singles Chart and appeared on four of Billboard’s US-based listings. And overall, it charted in over 20 nations, being certified Platinum in the United States and Australia.

Controversial Sampling

As it commences, this song infamously samples an audio clip from the initial (as in instantaneous), official NASA reaction to the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, a tragedy which took the lives of seven American astronauts on 28 January 1986. Of course some people took offense considering the overall nature of “XO”, including the likes of media writers and astronauts. And even NASA itself had a problem with this and was compelled to directly respond to this artistic choice. However, Beyoncé personally offered condolences to the families of the astronauts that died that day and contended that the reason the sample was included was to point to the track’s subtheme of the unpredictability of life.

Popular Covers of “XO”

Notable artists who have covered “XO” include Haim (2014) and John Mayer (2014), the latter to considerable chart success.

1 Response

  1. Anonymous says:

    Having read this gave “XO” a deeper meaning for me now. Thanks for everything that was written in this article.

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