Has an artist that you liked ever fallen off the face of the Earth? I’m not talking literally, of course. I’m talking unexplained absences. It’s even more confusing when the artist actually has a hit and then disappears. I mean, I can understand if it’s a situation where you’re the only fan of a particular singer, but why would an artist who sells a shit-ton of records just vanish into thin air?
Case in point: Robyn. Just before BSB and Britney hit the scene, Robyn scored big with a refreshingly poppy sound, honed by Swedish writers and producers like Max Martin. Robyn also had the benefit of actually being Swedish, so she was getting some of that homegrown. She also had a voice heavily influenced by soul singers (I seem to remember her touting Faith Evans as an influence), so she got love from the R&B crowd as well. Released in the summer of 1997, Robyn’s debut album, “Robyn Is Here”, sold a million copies and spun off three Top 40 pop hits, with the biggest one being “Show Me Love”…
…which bears more than a passing resemblance to a certain song called “…Baby One More Time” (http://youtube.com/watch?v=_bsniYwSaWg) . The way I see it (and to protect the innocent, I’ll say that this isn’t necessarily the truth), the suits up at Britney & Robyn’s respective labels (who share a distribution company) figured why deal with Robyn when they could find a more pliable, American, and traditionally “sexy” star to promote? After only one album (and a successful one at that…I’m still scratching my head…), Robyn was doomed to a footnote in American pop music culture.
BUT WAIT…Robyn didn’t exactly fall off the face of the Earth, she just fell off the face of America. The talented Swede has released several more albums in Europe, and they have been commercially and critically well-received. Sensing the time might be right for a comeback (after ELEVEN years), Interscope Records has signed Robyn and released “The Rakamonie EP” in the States in late January. This 5-song collection proves that Robyn has moved far beyond boilerplate Swedish dance/pop, featuring everything from songs that position her as a Missy Elliott/M.I.A hybrid to heartbreaking piano ballads to an uproarious cover of Prince’s “Jack U Off”. In a world where Gwen Stefani, Fergie and Nelly Furtado are among the top pop stars alone (and fading ones like Britney and Janet Jackson are desperately adapting their styles to fit in with the aforementioned three), Robyn provides a sound that doesn’t sound out of place among any of those artists while still managing to forge her own little unique lane.
So, head to your local record store (or go online) and check out “The Rakamonie EP”. It only cost me 6 bucks and was well worth the money spent.
For those of you who want another taste, check these clips out: