The self-described “most killingest pop star on the planet,” Robyn had a better 2010 than you. She released her three-part odyssey, Body Talk Pt. I, Body Talk Pt. II and Body Talk. She toured—coming to Chicago twice—recorded with Snoop Dogg, Röyksopp and Diplo, had a set at Pitchfork Music Festival and, this summer, opened for Katy Perry.
It’s been a year since Pt. I, and nearly a year since Pt. II, but on May 10 she released her latest and greatest single, “Call Your Girlfriend.” The song is from Body Talk, the full-length, half-compilation album. It’s a prime example of Robyn’s true prowess, and why she truly is the most killingest pop star on the planet.
It starts simply enough—“Call your girlfriend,” she advises, “It’s time you had the talk. Give your reasons, say it’s not her fault.” The quieter electronics behind the opening lines emphasize her words. That’s correct, Robyn is a pop star who’s actually saying something. This song has a plot line, it has characters and it even has moral direction.
As the story unfolds, listeners get through one verse of Robyn dishing out advice, predicting the woman’s reaction, as though she’s already been there. “Tell her not to get upset, second-guessing everything you said and done/And then when she gets upset, tell her how you never meant to hurt no one.”
By the second verse, listeners discover Robyn is the third point to this love triangle, the new girl in this man’s life. She wants her man to do the right thing before they continue their relationship—break it off completely with this girl. It may be a challenge, and there may be some emotions, but it’s the right way to continue on—Robyn wants to have their relationship legitimized first.
Robyn’s sound lies in the realm of Euro pop, swelling electronic symphonies with pulsating rhythms designed for the dancehall queens in all of us. “Call Your Girlfriend” features an immense breakdown, playing off her own vocal track, manipulated at different speeds and pitches. She is an innovator and something like this, while seen before, still produces a unique sound.
Accompanying this perfect pop piece is a flawless music video. Robyn, her elven-self, wears a furry shirt, patterned leggings and platform shoes, as she busts out some serious dance moves, alone in a ware of gymnasium. With a huge hit in the lights, the empty space is transformed into a true performance. She is dancing for her life, on the verge of heartbreak and tears.
Every moment of this video builds on itself. It’s a single shot—no cuts, no takes. It’s just Robyn and a room full of emotions. Viewers are stuck inside it with her, and Robyn is no holds barred. Every move she makes, and especially every stare into the camera, is a tour de force. She is delivering what should be an award-winning performance, conveying true emotion through body language and eye contact.
It’s rather disheartening that Robyn hasn’t achieved the type of fame as headliner Katy Perry, or fellow fashion-savvy songstress Lady Gaga. She exceeds at every post a pop star should maintain, with her grace, charm and outrageous talent, which she remains humble about. She is a real and accessible person, no bullshit, just straightforward lyricism and music. Robyn succeeds on that universal plane—she can touch an emotional level and reach her entire audience, something music and musicians themselves should constantly strive for in a challenging way. This universal appeal cannot be seen in something like Rihanna, because she doesn’t actually strive for anything. It’s hard to identify with songs about nothing.
Robyn put out these albums on her own record label, taking on subjects intellectually and producing original content.
In a dream world, Robyn sits in Lady Gaga’s throne, enlightening the masses and plaguing Top 40 radio with intellectual hits. Robyn has the ability to achieve it, to conquer pop music, but listeners need to want it first.