On Hold

Album: I See You (2016)
Charted: 34

Songfacts®:

  • Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim sing here about a broken relationship. Croft acknowledges the relationship is over, but Sim appears to be in denial, wishing to keep his lover "on hold" rather than breaking up.
  • The song was released as the first single from The xx's third album, I See You. Speaking to Julie Adenuga on Beats 1 about the release of the track, Croft said:

    "I'm really excited, nervous and excited… I've listened to it a lot of times thinking, how can I change it, how can it be different, is this right, is this good. To finally just hear it and let go of it, and for it just be in everyone else's hands, I can't wait."
  • The song samples Hall and Oates' 1981 track "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)." The borrowing of the classic early '80s tune represents the first ever vocal sample in a xx song.
  • Speaking to Genius about the xx's use of their work, Daryl Hall commented: "It's always interesting to hear what somebody does with my songs. After a song is written, it belongs to the world and can be interpreted anyway they want. As long as I get paid, of course. Have fun and pay me."
  • The xx performed the song when they guested on Saturday Night Live for the first time on November 19, 2016.
  • The video was directed by photographer Alasdair McLellan (the guy who shot the cover of Adele's 25 album) and filmed in Marfa. The clip offers glimpses of teenage life in the small West Texas town as we see youngsters enjoying their relationships combined with snippets of the xx performing at sunset. The band said:

    "It was filmed in Marfa, Texas, a very special place to us, where we wrote and recorded some of our new album. We have a lot of love and respect for the people of the USA, having played hundreds of shows across the country over the past years. We hope this video reflects just some of the warmth and acceptance we have encountered there."
  • Though much of I See You is lyrically dark, the sad words are often hidden in upbeat instrumentation. "Some of my favorite moments on this album are songs that can make people dance, but aren't necessarily joyous songs when it comes to the words," Sim explained to ABC Radio. "Like 'On Hold,' people can dance to it, but if they actually listen to it, it's a little bit tragic."

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