This rousing pop ballad finds Beyoncé reuniting with previous collaborators Ryan Tedder and The-Dream. Tedder spoke to Australian radio station Nova about the collaboration. "Personally the song we did I like more than 'Halo
'. I think it's a bigger, better song," Tedder said. He added: "[The-Dream] did 'Single Ladies
', I did 'Halo' so we thought - what would happen if we just did a song together?"
Beyoncé performed the song for the first time during the Chicago stop of her Mrs. Carter Show World Tour on December 13, 2013. She told the crowd: "I'm gonna sing this song, which is a brand new song. It hasn't even been out for 24 hours. I want to sing this to you all because it was written for you all. This is the first time. Something I'll never forget."
The video finds Beyoncé and the girls running loose in an amusement park. It was filmed by fashion photographer Terry Richardson, who also directed Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball
" clip, on the famed Cyclone roller coaster in Coney Island, New York. Beyoncé's three pals are played by models Jourdan Dunn, Diandra Forrest and Jessica White. Jourdan Dunn's cookery show airs on Jay-Z's Life + Times channel.
This was released as the lead single along with "Drunk In Love
" from Beyoncé
on December 17, 2013. After getting the Bey Hive buzzing with talk of a record release in 2013, by December the singer's fans were resigned to having to wait until the following year for a new offering from their idol. Then early on December 13th the "visual album" was dropped onto iTunes without any promotion or prior warning. Speaking to Billboard
magazine about the time lag before the record was made available to the public, Pharrell Williams, who co-produced the track "Blow
" said. "She's very particular. She's not going to put it out until it's ready. When you know what you want, you won't stop until you get it."
Beyoncé was the top-selling album all over the world within hours of its release, eventually taking the #1 spot in 104 countries. In smashed the US's previous iTunes one week record of 465,000 downloads of Taylor Swift's Red LP within three days. The 617,000 downloads sold between December 13-15, easily surpassed the 465,000 copies of the Nashville Pop Princess' fourth album in its debut week.
Tedder only learnt of Beyoncé's availability an hour and a half before its release. "I knew 90 minutes before it dropped. Ninety minutes. And I said nothing because I love Beyoncé and I don't want her to hate me," he said.
"I heard a rumor and then I didn't say anything. I told my wife, 'I think Beyonce's album is dropping in 90 minutes and then I knew that 'XO' was on the album," Tedder added. "I knew it was a single. I didn't know if it was first or second. I didn't know anything, and then today I found out that it was the lead."
Beyoncé debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart, following the chart-topping Dangerously In Love, B'Day, I Am... Sasha Fierce and 4. This meant that Beyoncé became the first woman to top the chart with her first five studio albums. The only two other acts to have taken their first five studio sets to peak position were folk group the Kingston Trio and rapper DMX.
The song starts off with a six-second audio clip of former NASA public affairs officer Steve Nesbitt recorded moments after the space shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986. "Flight controllers here looking very carefully at the situation," he states. "Obviously a major malfunction." Former NASA astronauts and families labeled Beyoncé's choice of sample as "insensitive."
Beyoncé responded to the outcry over the audio by expressing her sympathies for the families of those who died in the Challenger disaster and indicating no offense was intended. "My heart goes out to the families of those lost in the Challenger disaster," she said "The song 'XO' was recorded with the sincerest intention to help heal those who have lost loved ones and to remind us that unexpected things happen, so love and appreciate every minute that you have with those who mean the most to you. The songwriters included the audio in tribute to the unselfish work of the Challenger crew with hope that they will never be forgotten."
Despite being released on December 14th, Beyoncé sold 1.3 million by the end of the year in the United States making it 2013's best-selling album by a woman. The next-highest ranked leading lady was Katy Perry, with Prism, which sold 969,000 copies. Beyoncé was the eighth best-selling album of the year overall.
Beyoncé performed her first televised rendition of this tune during the BRIT awards in London on February 19, 2014. She dedicated the song to her fans as she sang the chorus, "Baby love me lights out." It was the Texan's first performance at the ceremony since 2004 when she sung "Crazy In Love
John Mayer covered the song in April 2014 during one of his shows in Adelaide, Australia. An acoustic studio version of his folk-rock interpretation was made available for digital download on May 27, 2014 and entered the Hot 100 the following week at #90.
A singer named Ahmad Javon Lane filed a lawsuit over this song in November 2014 seeking $3 million in damages. The artist who records under the name of Javon alleged he originally wrote a track, titled "XOXO," which he shared with one of Beyonce's background vocalists. The star, according to him, consequently ripped it off for this song.
Beyoncé's attorney brushed the lawsuit off, stating: "The two works at issue are entirely different songs that share no lyrical or musical similarity, other than perhaps the letters 'X' and 'O'…there is no meaningful similarity in pitch series, rhythm or rhythmic patterns, melodic development or structure."
Here is a video of Javon's "XOXO"
. Do you think they're similar? The judge obviously didn't think so. He threw the case out after ruling that Ahmad Javon Lane's track contained no discernible resemblance to Beyoncé's hit.
The phrase "Pulling a Beyoncé" has come to mean releasing something without warning, following Queen Bey's surprise dropping of her self-titled set.