samedi, août 18, 2007


There's a new songbird on the block.

Peter Robinson signs up for Robyn's new pop revolution.

Saturday August 18, 2007
The Guardian

Less than 12 months ago, Robyn's fanbase in the UK amounted to 217 hardcore pop enthusiasts, many of them bloggers. Most remembered her from her 1998 No 8 hit, Show Me Love, at which point she was a teenage pop warbler whom RCA were attempting to sell as a Britney. The hardcore busily blogged to each other about Robyn's continuing career in Europe, and subsequent albums called things like My Truth. They admired her independence when she left Sony to do her own thing, and when she released her fourth album, Robyn, her rebirth as the perfect 21st-century popstar was complete. But the prospect of another UK release, or any success over here, seemed unlikely.

Now she is No 1 in the UK pop charts proper. Partly because With Every Heartbeat, a collaboration with Swedish producer Kleerup, is one of the singles of the year - a four-minute, pocketsized emotronic symphony with the same captivating quality of Can't Get You Out Of My Head and a heartbreakingly sober lyric of regret and hopelessness. But as anyone will tell you in these difficult pop times, coming up with the song can be the easy bit, and selling it is where things get tricky.

Behind the scenes, With Every Heartbeat is No 1 after one of the most perfectly executed launches of recent times. Without having misrepresented or misled, it is a masterclass in having allowed record buyers to believe that a pop song by a popstar is actually a dance track by an indie auteur.

The campaign began nine months ago with a low-key EP release and some small, barely publicised gigs and a well orchestrated word of mouth campaign, hitting the indie tastemakers and DJs like Radio 1's Annie Mac. Robyn was seen as a survivor of the big, bad, late-90s pop explosion, a woman who stuck two fingers up at the majors in order to run her own label. Like Annie, she was the popstar it was alright to like, with a fierce DIY spirit. Robyn performed With Every Heartbeat live in the UK for the first time at London's Being Boiled on November 30 last year and it was released in Sweden at the start of 2007, but in the UK a further low-key single release followed. It missed the Top 100 but was again important in building up a credibility which meant that Jo Whiley, one of radio's most influential DJs for breaking new artists, would have no qualms about hammering the song, which she did. Soon, in a shrewd move, despite all the talk of having left major labels to pursue her own creativity, Robyn was in fact shopping herself around to majors again once her stock was high, and two months ago she signed a joint venture with Island.

Crucially, that was only half the story. The other part of Robyn's pincer-movement assault on the Top 40 was an astute club plot and a brilliantly well-selected package of remixes. Robyn has used her personality to gain credibility in some quarters and her potential facelessness to hit the club kids, coupled it all with an irresistible pop hit, and is No 1. Easy. Now just watch someone else try the same thing and get it all wrong...

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007