Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Robyn is (still) here.

Posted By on Wed, Nov 29, 2006 at 12:29 PM

Remember Robyn? After conquering the pop charts in her native Sweden (where she'd been a child star), she hit America as a teenager in 1996 with “Do You Know (What it Takes),” an effortless R&B flutter that checked the comfortable slip and watery bass grooves of jams like Monica’s “Don’t Take it Personal (Just one of Dem Days)” and the Babyface-penned “Sittin’ Up in My Room,” Brandy’s hit from the Waiting to Exhale soundtrack. Robyn didn’t quite have the voice to compete with those girls, and her people could never seem to settle on a look — one minute she looked like the beautiful, bad girl younger sister of Marie Fredriksson; the next she was rocking trainers and box-cut T-shirts and looking a little too much like pre-E! weight gain Backstreet Boy Nick Carter. Still, as harmless R&B written by Europeans, those songs were triumphs. And every time we nodded along to “Do You Know,” it was one less time we were stuck in traffic and hating our souls for sitting through tripe like Donna Lewis’ “I Love You Always Forever.” Where the fuck was my iPod?! Oh, wait. This was 1996.

Robyn couldn’t capitalize on her brief breakthrough, at least domestically. Right after her moment was when the Spice Girls exploded, and by the time all that shit wound down it was 1998-99 and Britney and

Baby One More Time and God does that seem like the Mesozoic now. (To that a thug lite-ish fellow in a West Hollywood bar nods. “All I wanted do was have a little fun before I died,” he says, peeling the labels from his bottles of Bud.) But anyway, the point is this: Robyn’s making another international play, and this time her songs are even better.

They’re still a bit same-y, of course - she's a huge pop star in Sweden, after all. On “Konichiwa Bitches” and “Cobrastyle,” Robyn rolls on the mic like a chinning, white-blonde mesh of Pink and L’il Kim, with maybe some of Tegan & Sara’s pug-faced, flat-voiced allure dropped in. “Cobrastyle” isn’t even hers — it’s a cover of a Teddybears song those guys did with Mad Cobra, which itself is totally awesome..

But Robyn’s still owns.

And “Konichiwa Bitches”

well. “On the North Pole, I’ll ice you son.” YouTube should soon be inundated by clips of suburban girls at sleepovers singing this song into video cameras. And it’s definitely better than Method Man’s recent track of the same name. Passions of the Christ, y’all.

In addition to these, Robyn’s new Rakamonie EP includes a weird, popping piano duet with Swedish indie singer Jenny Wilson called “List of Demands,” which itself is a Saul Willaims cover. And if that’s not enough bizarro cred for those of you checking your cred barometers or whatever, Rakamonie also includes a balladic take on Robyn’s “Be Mine.” I don’t like the busy 2005 original, but when it’s quieter, her Shangri-Las moment at the end cuts like a cold wind. (“I saw you at the station; you had your arm around what’s-her-name

”) Here’s a nice live take on the ballad version.

Give me something illicit, like it’s gonna get you in trouble or something.

JTL

Robyn's official site, where you can listen to all these tracks.

Robyn's MySpace.

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