In a way, artists are quite lucky because they can use the pain they feel when their relationships fail into material for their work – and since millions of people can relate to heartbreak and broken relationships, these songs often become big hits for these artists (think Taylor Swift and the band The Script), and some of them even get luckier by winning awards for it (think, Adele and Sam Smith, and their Grammy winning albums). Of course, we wouldn’t wish ill in the relationships of any of our favorite artists, but such is life. Through its course, there are bound to be heartaches and pain along the way. I will hazard a strong guess that Robyn just came out of a failed relationship because it is plastered all over her latest album, Honey. There is no escaping it, and although there are other songs with other themes in the album, the tight nine song collection is reeking with sadness and pain. The music too has changed. This is not the Robyn of 2010’s Body Talk series of mini-albums. While I was listening to it, it was like lounge music that you hear when you are at a bar in a tropical resort – unobtrusive, classy, still danceable, but not in the wild ways you can with her other hits. This was kind of subdued dance music, where you can just sway smoothly while sipping that mojito. The whole sound gives you a more relaxed yet still upbeat atmosphere but it is when you listen closely to the lyrics, you’ll understand why Robyn toned it down a few notches in her latest opus.
29 albums, 136 tracks
Robyn’s self-titled album is a major turning point in the career of the Swedish chanteuse. It’s the first release from her own record label Konichiwa Records and points to the real direction she wanted to take for her career to prosper. If she chose to stay in her old record company, we wouldn’t even be sure if Robyn would still be around, as is the case of most artists who are controlled too much by their record companies. They lose their motivation to perform and just quit the business. This turning point is not unusual to Robyn and comes to every artist’s life and when they feel that the direction their record company and the direction that they want to personally go to are different, then maybe parting ways would be the best thing to do. I believe this was a risky move for her because like any paths we choose to take – it could’ve gone either way. We might have lost Robyn forever or the more fortunate turn of events – still having Robyn producing great dance music then, and up to the present day. Auspiciously, her fans have continued to support her songs even after she left her record company and good thing is she came up with really strong inventive dance beats that continued to improve her brand as a credible and reliable dance artist. All these are exhibited in this self-titled album of hers. I say reliable because although fans won’t mind if their favorite artist experiments once in a while, they do need to hear a bit of the old stuff as well in the new stuff – just to ensure some sort of continuity. Robyn does that deftly in this album, with hits that became staples in dance clubs all over Europe and around the world. Even here in our part of Asia, some of Robyn’s songs from this album were being played in our local dance clubs at that time, and were choreographed by dance instructors in the hip hop and retro pop dance classes around Manila. I strongly feel that allowing Robyn to chart her own musical path has been providential to both the artist and her fans. And I’m really glad she decided that way because although this is not really my most favorite album of hers, she went on to produce even more original and innovative work in the future. For now, her subsequent compilation album, Body Talk is for the moment, my most favorite work of hers – and in my opinion, the strongest and most fascinating artistically.
Frankly, I did not expect the girl who sang and came out in the US hits Do You Know (What It Takes) and Show Me Love (both peaked at #7) would be able to build a music career and earn the respect of her dance peers for almost 23 years. I first encountered Robyn in 1997 because of those hits. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to follow up her career because back in those days, we didn’t have the Internet to instantly inform us of our favorite artists’ new releases. Since Robyn was not American but Swedish, information about her work was slow to filter to our side of Asia. I really thought she disappeared and I was very surprised to hear that she got a Grammy nomination for her song “Call Your Girlfriend” which is in this album I am reviewing. The song is undeniably great and she deserved that nomination. To follow up on that information, I decided to give a listen to the album Body Talk, which contained that song, hoping to uncover more danceable tunes from her. Body Talk is actually a composite of three mini-albums, Body Talk Pt. 1, Body Talk Pt. 2, and Body Talk Pt. 3. She decided to choose the best songs among the three albums and release a full album entitled Body Talk. I don’t know if she had to do this just so she can edit her work, because all three mini-albums were released within one calendar year, which is an impressive output for any artist. Nevertheless, Body Talk is one of the most impressive dance albums I have listened to, arguably one of the best ever made in this category. She came up with a great concept and used different dance beats to showcase her sound. Although the overall feel is futuristic – the album is not cold and distant. It is in fact capable of touching our feelings and igniting the irony of our actions, especially in that clever song “Call Your Girlfriend” There are songs here which are so original in concept and so witty in lyrical content that it blew me away the first time I listened to them. It is a gem of an album and I’m glad I didn’t come too late to her party.
Robyn is a rare talent that has the ability to create her own unique sound, score big with critics but never really achieve mass success. I have followed her career for decades and have always loved her art - because it’s often much more artistic than just a pop album. I’ve flown internationally to hear her perform live. I religiously bought all the Body Talk EPs. I’m a fan. But after waiting eight years for a follow-up to her groundbreaking Body Talk, her recent album Honey fails to deliver. There are aspects of her old sound that creep into the music, but mostly the album is…nondescript. It’s boring, bland, dated and weak. Body Talk was loud, brash, ahead of its time. Maybe it’s not fair to compare the two, but it’s a huge departure from what we’ve grown to expect from Robyn. In between Body Talk and Honey, Robyn released a mini-album with long time collaborators Röyskopp entitled Do It Again. This mini-album was epic and was hailed as “flawlessly produced” and “adventurous” by music critics. It went on to be the first #1 Billboard Dance Album for both artists and garnered a Grammy nomination. Not bad for 5 songs. The title track was synth-heaven with a hard definitive beat. The song was was unapologetically sexy and addictive. It was like a candy you couldn’t get enough of. I outline all of this because this was the last major project before Honey. Usually you see trends in a performers career - so perhaps for the latest album, I was expecting a pulsing dance album with bold energetic anthems. Silly me. Honey isn’t a bad album. It’s just a total abandonment of what Robyn used to sound like. Before she was an apologetic badass making killer dance tracks. Honey sounds like music that should be playing in the background of a nursery. Or maybe a nursing home? Robyn herself admits that the album was much more sensual and soft. For me, her version of soft has come across as weak. I’m also fully aware that the album won critical acclaim from music reviewers - but I think they were just insatiably hungry for new music from Robyn that they were happy with anything she gave them. Because, lets face it, the girl is a musical genius. Looking at the tracks, there are a few that do standout. ‘Missing You’ would have been tolerable as a 2nd or 3rd single, but not as the lead. It made it’s way on to the HBO TV Show Girls after the crazy success of ‘Dancing On My Own’ which appeared on the show and was from her Body Talk album. ‘Missing You’ had some of the electronic beats but even the bass is turned down low. ‘Human Being’ featuring Zhala is gentle and dark and forgettable. It’s certainly not a song you’d sing along to. ‘Because It’s in the Music’ lends itself to a clear and sparkly Asian feel. The song is alright but could be insane if they amped up Asian instruments, killed the synth, sped it up, and remixed the heck outta it. Thats not too much to ask is it? ‘Baby Forgive Me’ is painful: it drags, it’s sad, and it borders on being indulgent. I’m all for being emotional with your music, but it shouldn’t hurt for us to listen. ‘Send to Robin Immediately’ started out tragically and took almost 2 minutes until Robyn’s actual vocals began to ring through. It’s still terribly slow and sad but at least she sounds good in this small window of the album. ‘Honey’ is meant to be the sensual part of the album…obviously…and it’s so blatant it’s tacky. At least the beats pick up a bit here that give it a reminiscent sound of Robyn from days gone by. ‘Between The Lines’ is all over the place - the beats are all off, the sound goes from electronic to calypso to synth disco. Worst track on the album. ‘Beach2K20’ keeps picks up from the calypso in the last album and has a digital-mambo feel to it. This song didn’t bother me as much because there is no actual singing on it. ‘Ever Again’ closes out the 9 track album - and yes Robyn actually sings on this song. The song is tolerable and talks about getting over a bad breakup. If you have gotten this far, you’ve realized I’m not a big supporter of this album. I just can’t imagine that her fan base would totally buy into this soft and sad version of her. But if history is any indicator, we’ll have to wait a very long time for her redeem herself. Until then, I’ll just got back to the vintage hits.
I've been a fan of Swedish popstar Robyn for many years now so what you're going to read is anything but objective. I remember I was pretty excited to see her video clip of “Keep This Fire Burning” before going to school in 2002. At that time, I did not know anything about her music and career yet. I actually thought she was just another ephemeral artist with a one-hit wonder. During these years, I was also starting my music business career, if I may say so, by hosting my own show on a local associative radio. As a real sucker for mainstream pop music, I was dissecting the European music charts each week. It's probably how I learnt that this song was the lead single of her third album and that her career was almost one decade long.
Official Music Videos
Featuring Version Videos
Remix Version Videos
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- Apr 19, 2019The Black Madonna Remixes Robyn’s “Between the Lines”: Listen
- Apr 09, 2019The Pitchfork Guide to Record Store Day 2019: Robyn, “Twin Peaks,” Bob Dylan, and More
- Apr 08, 2019Robyn’s Adds U.S. Tour Dates
- Mar 26, 2019LPX is the American Robyn, and her new EP proves she’s ready for pop stardom
- Mar 13, 2019Watch Robyn Perform “Ever Again” on “Colbert”
- Mar 13, 2019Robyn Knows When to Give and When to Withhold
- Mar 13, 2019Watch Robyn Perform Sultry ‘Ever Again’ Single on Colbert
- Mar 09, 2019Watch Robyn Fans Spark an Impromptu Dance Party in NY Subway After Concert
Robin Miriam Carlsson (born 12 June 1979), known as Robyn (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈrɔbʏn]), is a Swedish singer, songwriter and record producer. She arrived on the music scene with her 1995 debut album, Robyn Is Here, which produced two Billboard Hot 100 top-10 singles: "Do You Know (What It Takes)" and "Show Me Love". Her second and third albums, My Truth (1999) and Don't Stop the Music (2002), were released in Sweden. Robyn returned to international success with her fourth album, Robyn (2005), which brought critical praise and a Grammy Award nomination. The album spawned the singles "Be Mine!" and the UK number one "With Every Heartbeat". Robyn released a trilogy of mini-albums in 2010, known as the Body Talk series. They received broad critical praise, three Grammy Award nominations, and produced three top-10 singles: "Dancing On My Own", "Hang with Me" and "Indestructible". Robyn followed this with two collaborative EPs: Do It Again (2014) with Röyksopp, and Love Is Free (2015) with La Bagatelle Magique. She released her eighth solo album Honey in 2018 to widespread critical acclaim.
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