The xx: Islands

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This video, for the track “Islands” off the xx’s newly-released debut album, isn’t easy to watch.  Obviously, the most dominating aspect of the music video is the persistent repetition in choreography.  For the majority of the video, a group of dancers perform the same seven-second routine repeatedly, complemented by a slow zoom out, while the three members of the band are shown in different positions each time.  With each repetition, the band members appear more and more helpless and trapped.  Also, the kiss that once began the choreography eventually transforms into detachment, and then the male dancer shown left alone.  At this point, the set of the video has become a chaotic mess, with various parts of the set actually in flame.

The painful repetition and the resulting breakdown shown in this music video can be interpreted in many different ways.  For one, the mindless repeated movements of the dancers can be seen as a criticism of mainstream music, whose videos are often characterized by this choreography.  More so, however, the video is making a statement about repetitions we experience in life in general.  The members of the band are surrounded by people doing the same things over and over.  This is a metaphor for the feeling that the things happening around us on a daily basis are almost choreographed, a feeling that we’re like Truman from The Truman Show.  Furthermore, the male and female dancer illustrate the danger of repetition over time within our own lives.  These two characters, who begin each sequence by kissing and then carrying out the routine, symbolize a long term relationship.  Because their relationship consists of the same thing over and over, they eventually lose interest, and it all falls apart.  The song’s lyrics depict this as well “I’m yours now, so I don’t ever have to leave.  I’ve been found out, so now I’ll never explore.  Basically, continuous repetition is something to avoid in life.

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