Later today, Robyn will release her first solo single in eight years Missing U. Over the years, she’s notched up an incredible track record of some of the finest pop moments this millennium. We thought we’d take the chance to go back through her catalogue and pull out the best 20.
22. Keep This Fire Burning (2008 Mix)
It’s hard to connect pre-2005 Robyn to post-2005 Robyn and that’s why you won’t find Show Me Love on this list. She redid one of her earlier songs Keep This Fire Burning though as a bonus track on her reinvention record Robyn. It’s a love song that lets nothing get in its way and one of Robyn’s first displays of melodic brilliance.
21. Monument (w/ Röyksopp)
Monument may be the darkest song Robyn has ever made. It’s a slow-moving, elongated epic that stretches over 10 minutes. It perfectly blends Röyksopp’s damning darkness with Robyn’s triumphant feel for melody.
20. Konnichiwa Bitches
When Robyn isn’t pouring her heart out on the dancefloor she’s laying down pure attitude and that’s exactly what Konnichiwa Bitches delivers. Along with Cobrastyle, it’s an outlier on the Robyn record but an important side of her nonetheless. “I’m so very hot that when I rob your mansion/You ain’t call the cops, you call the firestation,” is the sort of content we signed up for.
19. Love Kills
Robyn either uses a pulsating dance beat to pour or heart out or dig her heels in. Love Kills does the latter, using that four-to-the-floor beat to create one of her most aggressive songs to date. It’s a relentless warning that leaves politeness at the door.
18. Love Is Free (w/ La Bagatelle Magique)
Love Is Free came in the middle of an experimental, collaborative period for Robyn and saw her team up with frequent collaborators Markus Jägerstedt and Christian Falk. Falk sadly passed away in 2014 but Love Is Free was a spectacular final legacy. It’s a frantic dance track that rattles with boundless energy.
17. U Should Know Better (w/ Snoop Dogg)
Snoop Dogg and Robyn is one of the stranger pop collaborations of the past decade but it just works so well on U Should Know Better. They go toe-to-toe, bar-for-bar with Snoop shouting out Obama and Robyn saying, “We need a black pope and she better be a woman.” She’s right and we better get it done because we all know better than to fuck with Robyn.
16. Dream On (w/ Christian Falk)
Before Katy Perry was giving us inspirational purpose pop with Firework, Falk and Robyn were doing it with far less cheese. Dream On is a sweeping dance pop song that channelled the same melodic emotion of With Every Heartbeat.
15. Who Do You Love? (w/ Kindness)
Robyn and Kindness’ friendship was transformed into musical glory on Who Do You Love?, the best song of his second album Otherness. The song has such a beautiful sincerity that’s translated through Robyn’s honest vocal delivery and Kindess’ retro stylings.
14. Bum Like You
We knew Robyn was onto something good when she was able to write a love song about a “bum” who has a “dump” of a car and is potentially skimming her money. It’s a minimal, playful jam with one of Robyn’s most understated yet successful choruses.
Fembot, the opener to Robyn’s Body Talk, manages to combine both her attitude-driven rap stylings and her heart-on-the-dancefloor emotion. Using robotic metaphors, she somehow manages to turn one of her strangest songs into one of her most sincere.
12. Do It Again (w/ Royksopp)
Robyn’s collaborative EP with Röyksopp was dark and haunted but out of that this menacing party song was born. Like a more complex version of Icona Pop’s I Love It, together they captured the moment in a night where the euphoria peaks and you never want it to end.
11. Who’s That Girl
Who’s That Girl may be Robyn’s most straight-forward pop moment but it’s no less glorious. Over a thumping, 80s-inspired beat she makes a song about insecurity strong and confident with a chorus that could break the speakers.
10. Missing U
Strangely, nobody expected Robyn to come back from an eight year solo break with a song that recalled her biggest dancefloor hits. According to Robyn, Missing U is an anomaly on her forthcoming album Honey but it was a necessary bridging for this new era. It’s a pulsating, emotional pop song that recalls the heartache of Dancing On My Own or the directness of Call Your Girlfriend but it’s gentler. It feels softer like Robyn is more comfortable with taking her time.
9. Girl & The Robot (w/ Royksopp)
The critics credited Daft Punk with bringing human emotion to robots on Random Access Memories but Robyn and Röyksopp had already achieved it. Robyn used a robot metaphor to create a climaxing dance song about loneliness and neglect. A sci-fi love story that somehow manages to be devastating and danceable.
The lead-singles from each of Robyn’s Body Talk EPs followed a similar script. They were driven by a pulsating beat, elevated by a euphoric chorus and brought the heart to the centre of the dancefloor. Indestructible was the weakest of the three but that’s no insult. It’s still a gold-standard pop song and the lyric, “A freeze-frame of your eye in the strobe light,” may be the most perfect use of club imagery ever.
7. Handle Me
No one can make a tough guy look small quite like Robyn can. Robyn simultaneously makes herself look 10-foot tall while squishing this guy in a song that’s full of lyrical gold. “A selfish, narcissistic, psycho-freaking, boot-licking Nazi creep,” is one hell of an insult and the sort that only Robyn could fit into a pop song.
6. Hang With Me
A danceable love song is certainly not a new concept or one that Robyn invented but each of her songs deal with nuanced complexities rather than sweeping generalisations. Hang With Me is a soaring, emotional pop song that sees Robyn let a love interest back into her live as long as it’s just as friends. It feels too bloated a concept to pack into a four minute pop song but she simplifies it so beautifully.
5. Be Mine!
We don’t want to say we enjoy a heartbroken Robyn but she writes a break-up song like no other. Be Mine! gives us frantic verses and a confident chorus. It’s a declaration of independence but Robyn’s never one to lie and her insecurities shine through at moments as she admits to being “helpless sometimes”. It’s these admissions that make Robyn such a brilliant songwriter.
Robyn’s relationship with club music has always been evident but she’s always stretched it into the world of pop. On Honey, she does the opposite. You could begin Honey at any point and it’s feeling would still be the same. It’s a loop of sugary, sleek dance music that oozes feeling at every single point. It’s a subtle masterpiece and her greatest show of restraint. While fans may crave the immediacy of the early demo that featured on Girls, this version has a longevity because it you’ve gotta work for it. “Come get your honey,” she sings, making it available but not without you coming to her.
3. With Every Heartbeat
With Every Heartbeat was the song that made Robyn’s transformation a worldwide success. It’s a sweeping, orchestral song that grows without you even really noticing. It’s construction is so subtle that even the chorus arrives with little fanfare and it’s not until the end you truly notice the power of the song. By its finish, the beat is at full force, the chorus is euphoric and the heart is larger than ever.
2. Call Your Girlfriend
On paper, a song about calling your girlfriend to tell her that you’re leaving her for another woman accompanied by a Dirty Dancing-inspired video sounds convoluted. As mentioned above though, Robyn has this knack for creating pop songs about niche subjects and making it sound simple. Call Your Girlfriend is a complete and utter triumph. It’s still to this day one of the most affecting songs on the dancefloor helmed by a monstrous chorus and an instrumental break that should quite frankly be illegal. It’s all the things that make Robyn such a once in a lifetime artist delivered in this tight four minute pop song.
1. Dancing On My Own
The greatest pop song of the 21st century by a mile.