A blonde Swedish dance-pop diva. How prosaic, how expected, how Ace of Base, how Roxette…how ABBA. Actually, if that’s what you’re thinking you’re sadly behind the times. The home country of Max Martin (uber-producer/songwriter for *NSYNC, Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry and every other mega-hit artist) is still the world’s third largest music exporter, but more recent blonde sensations include the hair-raising, spooky ambient-electro Fever Ray (solo project of Karin Dreijer Andersson, one half of The Knife) and that more accessible, yet no less fiercely independent pixie, Robyn.
Robyn’s evolution from teenage sweetheart (“Show Me Love“) has been an interesting one. After a decade of adorably fluffy pop songs, she wanted a new sound, and she split from Jive Records five years ago to start her own label, Konichiwa Records, in order to do just that. She broadcast her intent with the single “Konichiwa Bitches” and the ensuing string of hits (her first #1 album in Sweden, top 10 club hits in the US), international accolades, and a tour with Madonna justified that decision and then some. Freedom has liberated Robyn to do exactly what she wants, how she wants, when she wants…even if that means breaking all music industry rules and releasing three new albums virtually back-to-back in one year.
Which brings us to the Body Talk Trilogy. In June, 2010 Robyn released Body Talk Pt. 1, and struck naysayers dumb when the album’s lead single, “Dancing on My Own,” went on to become one of the most infectiously, deliciously, feeling-sad-feels-so-good dance anthems of the summer. Three shockingly short months later came Body Talk Pt. 2, which took her audience by surprise with the single “Hang with Me” — a cover of the earnest, solemnly stripped-down song by Paola Bruna. Robyn’s version infused the song with a shot of stubborn optimism, a cheer through tears, an affirmation of letting go. Her ability to hold disparate moods together in a tight little pop gem, to fuse contradictions with an uncanny sense of freedom and liberation, has forced even dance music detractors to sit up and take notice.
Body Talk Pt. 3 was released December 2010 with almost no turnaround time from studio session to our eager hands, this is as fresh as music gets. By touring, recording, and releasing albums simultaneously, Robyn is breaking industry norms yet again, since artists usually record, release, and then tour in support of the album. Is this going to be a new standard? We don’t know. But there’s something magical about watching an artist blossom as pop star while adamantly maintaining creative independence, doing it all on her own.
Her ability to hold disparate moods together in a tight little pop gem, to fuse contradictions with an uncanny sense of freedom and liberation, has forced even dance music detractors to sit up and take notice.