Robyn 10 Years Anniversary
What happens when a former teen-pop star gets sick of following the rules? In the case of Robin Miriam Carlsson, she frees herself from the servitude of her major label, implements a Missy-Elliott-meets-Madonna-in-a-hallway-with-a-Snoop-Dogg-bite-and-Kathleen-Hanna-on-speed-dial perseverance into the backbone of her musical outpouring, dances all pretensions associated with her persona away dressed in pastel-pink silk boxing gear, and transforms into one of the most daring, independent female entrepreneurs of the music industry.
In the spring of 2005, Swedish polyglot Robyn set out to defy the logic of 00s cultural conservatism, implementing a sure shot of rain, thunder, and some hells bells into the annals of perennial pop music. Her self-titled album, also the debut release on her own label, stunts an irresistible match of self-empowerment and sensitivity, a verification of Robyn’s determination to represent no one but herself. Opening the record with a reading of her curriculum vitae, sporting some of the foxiest braggadocio any recording artist has amassed, Robyn not only has her tongue firmly placed in cheek; she knows how to set herself apart with a heavy dose of wisdom, compassion and relentless charisma.
Robyn is a freewheeling song-cycle walking the tightrope between independent exclusivity and commercial relevance successfully, thanks to the indestructible self-awareness of its female protagonist. The bitchy brew of being a manufactured top-ten sensation for over a decade, made Robyn rebel against her staged dullness in order to liberate her artistry from any restrictions, and, by embracing a childlike logic, she managed to do exactly that. Robyn is a synth-driven, outward-searching album of disparate songs, but the strength of the record, lies in its ability to stay relentless without sounding directionless.
The beauty of how Robyn lets her heartbeat run through the veins of these records without blinking twice, the ability to outbalance playfulness with emotional density, is the foundation of her musical identity. ‘Who’s That Girl?’, ’Be Mine!’ and ‘With Every Heartbeat’ are songs of impossible human feelings colliding, yet Robyn manages to liberate these moments from sappiness, raising her expressive delivery into a statement of confidence. The exposed nature of Robyn – all the way from the romantic confusion of ‘Bum Like You’ to the empowering sassiness of ‘Konichiwa Bitches’ and ‘Handle Me’ – is the reason why the album stands out as a danceable meditation on self-worth.
Learning how to stand by yourself and embrace the outcome, is a tough task we all have to go through in life. On her self-titled record, Robyn reconfigured her previous image into an off-beat declaration of independence, boldly presenting her own electrocuted version of how Top 40 sounded like in her ears. By rioting against the status quo of what a major pop record could be, Robyn firmly embraced her personal hardships, turning her second debut album into a ruminating success in a musical landscape that, at the time, was too caught up with melodrama and outdated sexual politics. A decade removed from its initial release, Robyn stands out as a relatable and endlessly replayable pop record that swiftly flips the finger at the “selfish, narcissistic, psycho-freakin’, boot-lickin” bastards, who ever tried to restrict the genius of this sonically advanced hot mama.
Robyn is available at a retailer near you on Konichiwa Records via Universal.