In honor of today being a day that ends in “day,” our Artist of the Week is 32-year-old Swedish dancehall queen Robyn. “Why,” you may ask? Because this chick is fierce, that’s why.
Robyn got her first taste of success not singing but with voice acting, voicing a character of 1989’s Swedish/Norwegian film, “The Journey to Melonia,” as well as the Swedish version of “All Dogs Go To Heaven” as a 10-year-old.
Two years later, she was discovered and upon finishing middle school was signed to Ricochet Records Sweden, a subsidiary of BMG. At 16, she signed with RCA Records and released her debut single, “You’ve Got Somethin’” in Sweden in 1994. The song wasn’t exactly a success, but her next single “Do You Really Want Me (Show Respect)” was her breakthrough in Sweden and gave her some momentum for Robyn is Here, her 1996 debut album.
In typical American fashion, we were late to the party but we still caught the bus. Her U.S. breakthrough was “Show Me Love,” a song released in 1997 in the same vein as those Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Mandy Moore songs that were in constant rotation. The song peaked at No. 7 in America and is her last song to reach the Top 10 since. But don’t think that that means she has been unsuccessful.
After a move to Jive Records and a couple subsequent albums, Robyn grew tired of the wholesome teeny-bopper pop scene and recorded “Who’s That Girl” in 2004. Jive was not happy with this new Euro/electro pop sound but Robyn fought the good fight and ultimately decided not to let suits dictate her passion. Thus, Konichiwa Records and the REAL Robyn were born!
Robyn started Konichiwa Records in order to give her the freedom to do whatever she damn well pleased and it worked. Robyn was released in 2005 and she burst back onto the Swedish music scene in a big way. Using huge electro poppy beats yet mixing it up by implementing rap and reggae sounds as well, the album is a perfect way to introduce the new Robyn to the world. The opening track, “Curriculum Vitae,” sets the tone with an eerie, pump-up intro, touting Robyn as the end-all be-all bad ass and the rest of the album follows suit. The U.S. version of the album wasn’t released until 2008 and three of the songs were Top 10 club hits, one of which (“With Every Heartbeat”) getting some radio play.
In 2010, Robyn embarked on an ambitious challenge: releasing three albums in one year. She succeeded. Kind of. Body Talk, Pt. 1 was released in June and featured eight songs, including the Top 10 hit, “Dancing on My Own.” In September, Body Talk, Pt. 2 was released, which also included eight songs and the single, “Hang With Me.” Here is where Robyn only kind of succeeded. Instead of releasing a third album with all new material, the final installment, simply entitled Body Talk, is an amped up version of many of the songs off the previous two albums, plus a few new tracks and the single, “Call Your Girlfriend.” Though some may argue that she kind of cheated, it doesn’t change the fact that all three albums are full of dance hits while every once in awhile still paying tribute to the type of music that made her successful in the first place.
Robyn’s fiery spirit appears in great form with songs like “Konichiwa Bitches,” “Who’s That Girl?” and “U Should Know Better” She’s a bad ass, she knows it and she knows how to work it. But while she touts her strength, she also shows some weaknesses and human struggle in songs like “Dancing on My Own,” “Crash and Burn Girl” and “Be Mine!”
Though she has never won a Grammy (she’s been nominated four times), Robyn has definitely made her mark on a global scale. She’s performed at Nobel Prize ceremonies, become an ambassador for UNICEF, had top hits all over Europe and has won several Swedish Grammys. She’s also made her mark with other artists and in pop culture. She’s worked with the likes of The Knife, Snoop Dogg, Alicia Keys, Royksopp, The Teddybears, Katy Perry, Deadmau5 and others. She was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live in 2011 and most recently, her hit song “Dancing on My Own” was featured at the end of the April 29 episode of the HBO show Girls entitled, “All Adventurous Women Do,” further proof that she is one ferocious female.
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