Friday, September 4, 2009

IN PRAISE OF ROBYN

It was love at third or fourth sight. I'm talking about my 13-year crush on Robyn. It began one or two minutes into watching her debut video, "Do You Know (What It Takes)," for the first time in 1996. Initially, I was totally distracted by her tousled-topped mystery leading man, then once I gave up hope on getting a full look at his face, which wouldn't be fully revealed until near the end of the video, I zeroed in on Robyn. It may have taken me a minute or two to focus, but once I did, I was hooked -- on her and the song. Her first album, Robyn In Here -- which contained one other U.S. Top 10 hit, "Show Me Love" (not to be confused with "Show Me Love," a different Top 10 hit from 1993 by the similarly named Robin S.) -- made a big impression in the States, and then she seemed to disappear.

Her follow-up albums weren't even granted a U.S. release because they were deemed not quite right (read: too sophisticated) for the domestic pop market. So for years, I had to buy her albums from shady foreign websites and even went all the way to Sao Paolo, Brazil, to snag two copies of My Truth, her 1999 second album (one for me, one for my best friend).

Thankfully, after the 2007 re-release of her 2005 fourth album, Robyn, the rest of the world (still minus the U.S., which finally got the album in 2008 and promptly ignored it), rediscovered Robyn, and an international star was reborn. The UK hits kept coming -- the No. 1 "With Every Heartbeat," "Handle Me," "Be Mine!" and "Who's That Girl" -- each one completely different from the one before it, and each one building the singer's small but avid fan base. Meanwhile, to get my fix of new Robyn music, I had to make do with the occasional remix or guest appearance.

Just when my Robyn withdrawal threatened to get the best of me, I found out that she had a new single, a collaboration with the Norwegian electronica duo Royksopp called "The Girl And The Robot." I heard it for the first time about a week ago, and I haven't been able to get Robyn's mournful vocal and that throbbing electro groove that so reminds me of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" out of my head. It's making me as impatient for her next album of new material -- come on Robyn, it's been four years now! -- as she is in the song, waiting for her absent lover's return. "Fell asleep again in front of MTV/God, I'm down at the bottom/No one's singing songs for me," she laments as the beat goes on. Anyone who's ever fallen for someone who was either physically or emotionally unavailable will get the message. Thanks, Robyn and Royksopp, for understanding.
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