With an infectious hook and cheeky lyricism, it’s as addictive as it is anti-capitalist
There’s this constant tug of war on ‘XS’.
On one hand, there’s the lush, dynamic instrumentation. Complete with exotic violins, a beat pulled straight from the 2000s, and an electric guitar that might just be able to rip through anything, ‘XS’ is one the year’s most essential pop bangers that only leaves the listener wanting more. On the other hand, however, are the words layered on the music itself. Adorned with all the Cartier jewels, Tesla Xs, and Calabasas mansions the wealthy could desire, Rina masterfully fashions herself as a caricature of Hollywood’s Limousine liberals. It’s a cheeky unveiling of the hypocrisy that hides behind a “‘sad about Australian wildfires’ Instagram post” or any other superficial action by your favourite superstar. It’s all about how not to want more. Yet despite this contrasting duality, each side only seems to complement the other.
For every line about material flexes, there’s a hidden double entendre about the bleakness of reality. “The price we paid is unbelievable”, she sings, referencing both the exorbitant price tags of luxury goods, as well as the more sinister, social costs associated with manufacturing those goods en mass. On the chorus, Sawayama urges, “Gimme just a little bit”, as if a little more purchasing never hurt anybody, when reality says otherwise. It’s also reminiscent of the insatiable, faceless crowds of another 2000s pop gem.
‘XS’ is refreshingly organic. A quip about the absurdity of purchasing zip codes at the mall is as effective as a purpose-driven punchline as it is an extension of Sawayama herself. In some ways, Rina might just be the perfect person to make a song like this, since she casually swerves past the hypocrisy that plagues other wealthy artists when they put out forced, virtue-signalling singles, as was the case this year with the putrid, tone-deaf rendition of ‘Imagine’. It’s equal parts artistic and purposeful.
All this culminates in the bridge, where in the quest for satisfying the desires of the heart, Sawayama spirals into unadulterated denial as her voice slowly drowns and distorts into a sea of “more”.
And what about the long-lasting, irreversible damage inflicted on the world? To that, we hear an easy solution. Call it day, say goodnight, and forget about it till the end of time.
It’s not like you’re gonna have to wait very long for the end to happen anyways at this rate.
Oh me, oh my, where did it go awry?