Robyn’s Seminal “Dancing On My Own” Turns 10

Mike Wass | June 1, 2020 1:18 pm
Robyn's 'Between The Lines' Video
The Swedish pop star cuts loose in Ibiza in her 'Between The Lines' video.

The best pop song of the 2010s was released exactly 10 years ago. On this day in 2010, Robyn unleashed “Dancing On My Own” as the lead single from Body Talk Pt. 1 and changed the way electro-pop was perceived forever. While distraught disco was a veritable sub-genre in the ’70s and early ’80s, the late ’00s explosion of electro was largely associated with nihilistic party jams. Of course, sad bangers have always existed (see Robyn’s own “Be Mine” for a perfect example), few cut as deep or broke as big as “Dancing On My Own.”

The song that was heralded as an instant classic upon arrival. Music blogs, at the height of their relevance, frothed at the mouth, critics swooned and Robyn found herself with a chart hit in Europe. It even threatened to catch on in the US — spending a couple of agonizing weeks on the Bubbling Under chart. (Despite never cracking the Billboard Hot 100, “Dancing On My Own” was ultimately certified platinum by the RIAA). What was the appeal? Well, this is the perfect storm of icy, electronic production and gut-wrenching emotion.

Take the first verse. How many songs rip out your heart in the opening line? “Somebody said you got a new friend,” Robyn sings over Patrick Berger’s jack-hammer synths. “Does she love you better than I can?” From there, the Swedish pop icon lays out the situation in harrowing detail. She’s at the club, by herself, doing a little reconnaissance on her ex-boyfriend (no judgment) — all while he’s making out with her replacement. Yes, “Dancing On My Own” is literally a horror movie set to music.

“Yeah, I know it’s stupid, I just gotta see it for myself,” Robyn howls, before giving us a snapshot of her misery. “I’m in the corner, watching you kiss her,” she sings in the grips of emotional agony. “I’m right over here, why can’t you see me?” Our unlucky-in-love heroine ultimate gets the message, and a whiff of defiance — or, perhaps, resilience, creeps into the song. “I’m giving it my all, but I’m not the girl you’re taking home,” Robyn belts defeatedly, before pulling herself together: “I keep dancing on my own.”

Over time, “Dancing On My Own” has been elevated to God-tier status. It is the gold standard for electro-pop and opened the door for a rush of Scandinavian artists to make their mark around the globe. Even a mega-successful cover by Calum Scott couldn’t dull the original’s shine. In fact, it just introduced Robyn to a whole new audience. Revisit the saddest, loneliest banger of the 2010s below. Pop music doesn’t get any better.

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