Robyn – Hang With Me
Following up a massive hit is one of the more interesting challenges that faces the jobbing pop star. When you’ve had a huge no.1 record – especially an unexpected one – things tend to start getting a little bit out of proportion. Very often you are awarded a level of fame you haven’t exactly earned yet, and record companies can get somewhat bullish about your prospects. Hence in 1990 you found a full page advert in Record Mirror proudly announcing I Don’t Know Anybody Else as “the next number one from Black Box” – and of course it turned out to be a no.4 because no-one likes a show-off and it was nowhere near as good as Ride on Time (although oddly it sounds better today.) Of course the modern equivalent of this is you get invited to be a judge on The Voice UK, and while you’re busy acting with an authority you don’t entirely deserve your own career falls of a cliff.
Which brings me to an example of someone who’s handled this problem extraordinarily well, and that person is of course Robyn. Having already been chewed up and spat out once by the pop machine in the late nineties as a sort of proto-Britney Spears, she vanished entirely for nearly a decade before returning with a very similar haircut but otherwise almost entirely re-invented. With Every Heartbeat (with Kleerup) was a surprise UK no.1 and established Robyn as someone who was going to do things her own way or not at all. So in fairly short order we had four albums, the contents of which were often brilliant and never less than really, really inventive. 2010’s Dancing on My Own has rightly become a bit of an anthem – as anyone who’s ever spent any time at Duckie in London’s Royal Vauxhall Tavern will tell you – and deserved higher than its no.8 UK peak. The next single, Hang With Me, therefore had the unenviable task of following up a song that was widely loved and that radio wasn’t quite finished with yet. But it more than holds its own when compared with its predecessor – pulsating in a gorgeous, analogue-y-Giorgio-Moroder-circa-Sunset–People-en-route-to-Never-Ending-Story sort of a way.
One of the greatest things about Hang With Me is the bit at 3:11 where she starts to echo her own vocal in the chorus – it’s so thrilling. My rule of thumb with pop is, if there’s room to echo yourself then DO IT – hardly anyone does anymore. Keen listeners who love a song will find themselves doing it anyway – see Mike Oldfield’s Moonlight Shadow for reference – and it is always surprisingly satisfying.
If modern pop is a bit like warfare, then Robyn is our Boadicea – charging from the front in her chariot packed with amazing tunes. It’s understood that not every skirmish will be a success, but you can always come back fighting. And Robyn is most definitely a fighter.
Entered chart: 19/09/2010
Chart peak: 54
Weeks on chart: 1
Who could sing this today and have a hit? LOREEN.