music

Robyn

Robyn, by NRK P3 via Flickr So I am definitely late on the Robyn train. Or incredibly early, because I remember doing dance routines to her “Do You Know (What It Takes)” at sleepovers. In the US she had two or three really popular songs, and that’s probably what she was best known for.

Of course, in Sweden and the rest of Europe, she was an epically big star, making high-quality but pretty standard pop and dance fare, until 2004 when she left Jive records (yes, the Jive Records of the Backstreet Boys fame) in order to play her own sound – more adult, electronic dance music.

Her 2005 album Robyn, showed a more sophisticated shift, and she received three Swedish Grammy awards for it. She kept busy with remixes, collaborations, opening for Madonna, singing backup vocals for Britney. She must have been busy writing too, because in 2010 she released 2 albums and an LP: Body Talk Pt. 1, Body Talk Pt. 2, and Body Talk.

If Gaga is the weird girl that has captured the hearts of millions, Robyn is the girl that never left the dance floor. Love, heartbreak, breakdowns and redemption are all found within the club. Titles include, “We Dance To The Beat,” “Dancehall Queen,” “Dancing On My Own.”

The greatest part is that all these songs have a strong, rich emotional core that I know I don’t usually find in dance music. Robyn gives some sage advice to a new boyfriend, “Call your girlfriend now, It’s time you had the talk, give your reason, say it’s not her fault / But you, just met somebody know.” And then the beat starts, and it is glorious. On my personal favorite, “Get Myself Together,” she sings, “My momma called me last night / she said when nothing else fits / pick up the pieces and move on,” all over a pulsing beat in her sweet, robotic voice.

I find myself crazily addicted to listening to her music. In one interview, she talks about releasing three albums in one year, “When you do 16 or 13 songs in one go, you kind of empty yourself, and it takes a while to fill back up and have new things to talk about…” She left all her baggage on the dancefloor – lucky for us.

Want more, you say?

Robyn – Dancing on My Own

Merry freaking Christmas

The holidays can be a bit of a drag sometimes. With all the pressure to get with your nearest and dearest, it instead highlights feeling of loneliness.

Last Christmas I discovered this Neko Case cover of a Tom Waits song, and it has a special place in my heart. Good for wallowing.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgTPo4zRI2Q]

Merry freaking Christmas.

Deep thoughts on pop music

Maybe because it’s summer, and the heat is getting to my head, but I have been thinking very hard about pop music. Now, I’ve never been immune to catchy hooks and addictive beats. Pop songs are musical fast food: deftly engineered to appeal to your most basic needs.

This summer we find two interesting solo female artists cranking out hits: Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. Both made a name for themselves as songwriters for other artists, both are hyperstylizedm ready-made pop icons, both rarely wear pants.

Perry has thoroughly embodied the faux vintage pinup look. She constantly looks like she could be painted on the side of a World War II bomber. Her first song, “I Kissed a Girl,” was a murderously catchy song that I found somewhere in the range of annoying to offensive. Her latest singles, “Hot and Cold” and “Waking Up in Vegas,” are equally as well produced, even if they all embody ‘girl rock lite.’

Lady Gaga obviously considers herself the heir and conduit of pop art greats: Warhol, Bowie, Jones. She revels in her fame, and wears very serious looking leotards and playtime props. And again, her songs are catchy and meant to be as shocking as they meant to be danceable.

What strikes me both about this two pop starlets—both of whom are, oh my god, younger than me—is the level of autonomy that both seem to exude. I am certain that both of them are cogs in the record label publicity machine, but compared to the Britney and Christina of ten years ago, these ladies are savvy. They knowingly self-promote by flouncing and gyrating, but they know what they’re about, having been on the production as well as the product side of the music industry. I would consider them both inspirations. Even without pants.