Pop music has been shamed of late. Long gone are true songstresses like Madonna, whose enigmatic antics and emotive songwriting rendered them eternally beloved. Long gone are the days of actual instrumentation and personality, which have now been replaced by multimillion dollar production and an overwhelming air of insincerity. Female pop stars of today dwell in a world of paparazzi-fueled corporate spin — forever longing for immortality in an increasingly fickle social climate. As the Miley Cyruses continue to race up the Billboard charts, mainstream America’s insatiable appetite for danceable pop music will continue to eat up and spit out “next big things” at an exponential rate.


Body Talk, Pt. 1

Enter 31-year-old Swedish pop icon Robyn. Having cracked her native country’s Top 10 with all four of her albums and recorded a #1 hit in the UK (“With Every Heartbeat” in 2007), Robyn is the best purveyor of true pop music that America has never even heard.

With a career spanning 15 years, and a 2008 Swedish Grammy for Best Live Act, Robyn is a platinum-blonde femme fatale with a calculated plan of attack. On her fifth proper release, and the first in a set of three mini-albums that will comprise 2010’s Body Talk series, this veteran is ready to take the U.S. by storm. Artistically, it is impossible to discount the disposition and sensibilities of Europeans, and it’s this sophisticated aesthetic that acts as the backbone for each of the eight tracks on this tease of an album. From an entirely stylistic standpoint, Body Talk, Pt. 1 is a perfectly translatable album from a Swede who is well-versed in what it means to make engaging pop music.

Musically, what is most striking about this album is its stellar production. Instead of an overly imposed set of cookie-cutter beats, Robyn realizes the necessity of good instrumentation and a unique quality of sound. This wherewithal is instantly apparent on the Diplo-produced, dub-step style “Dancehall Queen,” where West Coast synths flutter and flit over the crunchy wobble of UK two-step bass and snare hits.

Though never overly ambitious to the point of being esoteric, these stylistic undertones are furthered on the murky “None of Dem,” which features Norwegian electronic music mainstays Röyksopp, as affected high hats and house-style synth sweeps careen over a techno beat.

What makes Robyn such a dynamic pop musician rests in her ability to simultaneously blend an air of seniority with the empathetic figure of a girl still trying to find her way in a world full of ruin and lost love. On the album’s first track, “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do,” Robyn echoes the title as she catalogues the list of vices and snags contributing to her eventual demise. This unwavering demeanor casts her in a light reserved for artists truly inseparable from their own — albeit self-destructive — work.

On the acoustic track “Hang With Me,” this siren proves she can hold her own vocally against a bare and exposing minimal backdrop. The song’s lasting sentiment exhibits Robyn’s self-reliance and veteran attitude with a piano- and string-driven chorus line stating the truth: “Just don’t fall recklessly, headlessly in love me / Cause it’s gonna be all heartbreak.”

The truth is, American pop music is so overly contrived and primped that there is no longer any reason to take it seriously. To all the Ke$has of the world — take note. A true pop diva need not accentuate what the rabid, frivolous public deems as the right direction. She must be enigmatic and sultry, but at the same time must be able to exude confidence and an artistic mastery regarding the true merits of pop music. Though Robyn may never truly make a splash in the American Top 40 music scene, the only thing holding her back is the uninformed ears of the hordes of oblivious pop fans here in the States.

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