Last week, MTV News began counting down the Top 25 Songs of 2010, a list that’s already included everyone from Rick Ross to Katy Perry , Lady Gaga and Drake . Now, we’re drawing the curtain back on our #6 pick: Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own.”
The Swedes may not have invented dance music, but over the past four decades, they’ve certainly perfected it. Perhaps it’s a matter of necessity; after all, they needed something to do during those eternally long winters, when the sun never really rises and the mercury plunges. Or maybe there’s just something in the water (or the Köttbulla). Whatever the case, starting with the early days of ABBA and carrying on through Roxette and Ace of Base, Sweden has become the world’s leading purveyor of four-on-the-floor, downright joyous pump.
And now, there’s Robyn, the towheaded heir apparent to that shiny throne. For much of the 2000s, she assembled her résumé, ditching her pop roots (and major-label home) and heading off into the hinterlands, founding her own label and tinkering with a newfound, certifiably electronic sound. The early results — songs like “Who’s That Girl?,” “With Every Heartbeat” and “Konichiwa Bitches” — represent her gradual ascension to greatness, shimmery, mechanical (sometimes downright nasty) shards of electro pop. But in 2010, with the release of three excellent albums (the Body Talk trilogy), she moved to the head of the class … and she doesn’t show any signs of relinquishing that spot any time soon.
Aiding Robyn in her reign is the fact that, finally, it appears the entire world is paying attention. One of the songs from the Body Talk series — “Hang With Me” — already showed up at #21 on our countdown, and now, rightfully, she’s grabbed the #6 spot with “Dancing on My Own,” a heartbreaking little anthem that not only united dance floors around the world, but even showed up during a crucial “hate sex” scene on “Gossip Girl” too. Small victories, people.
The success of “Dancing on My Own” is due as much to its sound — a computerized kaleidoscope of chippy, chiming blips and piston-like drums — as it does its sentiment. This is, after all, a thoroughly sad song, primarily about Robyn losing her man to another woman (and being masochistic enough to watch the whole thing unfold from across the dance floor), but also about the notion of feeling alone in a crowded room, of being lost and unloved and having no other choice but to be OK with those things, no matter how hard you try. She’s giving it more, but at the end of the night, she’s not the girl you’re taking home.
That said — like all of her best songs — “Dancing” is also an ode to independence and strength. As she explained to MTV News last month:
“I think dancing by yourself is a thing a lot of people do, whether it’s at home in front of a mirror or just being in the club, surrounded by people but feeling very alone … not even in a sad way, but liking the fact that you’re experiencing the music by yourself. I mean, for me, of course it’s a sad love song, but it’s a strong song as well, or at least that’s what I want people to feel when they listen to it.”
And while you can weigh its social context all you want, that’s merely a side attraction. Because as soon as “Dancing” gets to that hair-raising build — a breathless rush of drums and adrenaline — you’re no longer thinking about what Robyn’s saying, really. No matter where you are or who you’re with, you’re dancing your ass off, and you’re not going to stop any time soon. And that, more than anything else, is the secret to Robyn’s rise: She’s a phenomenally gifted artist, making the best music on the planet. And she doesn’t show any signs of slowing down any time soon. All hail the Queen.
Where would you place Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own” among the top songs of 2010? Let us know in the comments!
MTV News’ Top 25 Songs of 2010 countdown continues. Make sure to keep checking back to see what song we’ve named #1, and don’t forget to share your picks with us in the comments below!