On Robyn and the art of the twisted love-song

Jules Evans
8 min readMar 11, 2022

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been feeling quite down the last few days. So, as a change from doomscrolling, I am going to write about two pop songs that I love, both by Robyn: Dancing On My Own, and Call Your Girlfriend.

Most love songs are straightforward, like ‘I want to hold your hand’ by the Beatles. It’s a basic Person A loves Person B equation. Then there is the other most common form of love song — breakup songs. Person A has lost Person B.

Dancing On My Own is a lot more twisted than that. Here are the opening lyrics:

Somebody said you got a new friend
Does she love you better than I can?
It’s a big black sky over my town
I know where you at, I bet she’s around
Yeah, I know it’s stupid
I just gotta see it for myself

I’m in the corner
Watching you kiss her
Oh oh oh
I’m right over here
Why can’t you see me?
Oh oh oh
I’m giving it my all
But I’m not the guy you’re taking home
Ooh ooh ooh
I keep dancing on my own (I keep dancing on my own)

So the story of this love song is Person A watching Person B kissing Person C.

It’s twisted because the sentiment is voyeuristic, toxic, unhealthy, destructive. Person A has gone to a club to watch her former lover make out with someone else. It reminds one of films like Rear Window, or Taxi Driver, or Peeping Tom, which are all films about voyeurism and watching others as an unhealthy but compulsive activity.

And yet Dancing On My Own is a very uplifting and cathartic song, as you can see from this crowd serenading Robyn with the chorus at a concert — tell me you’re not moved by this slide of BC (Before Covid) pop culture.

Jules Evans