Shedding Light on an Underappreciated Character
I’ve always felt bad for the letter “x.” It’s so rarely used, and when it is used, most of the time it’s for explicit purposes. This week I set out to restore “x’s” reputation by citing some of my favorite songs who innocently include our friend “x.” One quick listen and you’ll see that “x’s” don’t just come in threes.
XO — John Mayer Beyoncé Cover
Mayer takes one of the highlights from Beyoncé’s surprise album and tones it way down. Layered guitar and harmonica replace a synth-heavy 808 beat, causing Mayer to really show his sensitive side. The song seamless fits into his recent works, Born and Raised and Paradise, that it’s hard to believe Mayer didn’t write the song himself. Fans (both Mrs. Carter and Mayer alike) loved his cover so much that he recorded an official single of Bey’s track, hear it here:
Xxplosive — Dr. Dre ft. Hittman, Six-Two, Nate Dogg & Kurupt
2001 is objectively one of the best rap albums of all time, not just because of the amazing features including a young Eminem and Snoop, but because Dre’s beats are SO. DAMN. GOOD. If you haven’t done so, take the time to listen to the entire album. Don’t like rap? Just listen to the instrumentals—-they’re some of the best beats you will ever hear, guaranteed. “Xxplosive” is no exception, the combination of Dre’s perfectly simple beat with Nate Dogg’s chorus make the song a certain classic.
VCR — The xx
The xx have been one of my favorite bands since I first heard them—their sound is uniquely sad while still managing to be pop. Hailing from London and meeting while still in high school school, the three person band that is The xx has put out two great albums with a third on the way. “VCR” is one of my favorites— I love how the song has a slight melancholy shell. Check out the video below, it’s equally beautiful and gloom.
Lex — Ratatat
Okay, so fitting this song in was a bit of a stretch on the “x” theme, but I love Ratatat so much I had to do it. Having just released a new album, I was reminded of this song as my first taste of the guitar-duo. “Lex” is a fairly standard Ratatat song, with various guitar riffs that seem to be have a conversation back and forth. Listen to “Lex” below, or if you like funkier music, consider exploring more of Ratatat’s discography (like “Seventeen Years”).
I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) —- Jamie xx ft. Young Thug & Popcaan
Maybe featuring Jamie xx, who is one third of The xx, is too much of the same sound. But when you throw Young Thug into the mix, the similarity blurs. Young Thug’s slurred verses combined with a Kanye-like sample showcase Jamie’s step into the club scene. This song is the epitome of summer—fun, upbeat, and with a hint of soul.
5 songs and very little mention of explicit content—-I would say I’ve proven “x” to be falsely accused. Join the conversation and add your x-related (appropriate) songs in the comments below.