Body Talk: Here are the Top 10 greatest Robyn dance moves of all time
Robyn and her Scandinavian electro-pop cohorts Röyksopp bring their Do It Again tag-team mega-dance party to the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion this Friday night (August 22), and there won’t be a stiff shoulder in the house. Unfortunately, the seated live music venue usually makes for some confined dance experiences among the crowd: rows of chairs and designated standing spaces right in front of each seat spawn flailing displays of limited herky-jerky mobility, which can be rather awkward when absorbing music that makes you want to bounce around and move.
On the bright side, Robyn knows a thing or two about dancing on your own, and Vanyaland is here to count down her 10 greatest dance move displays in music video form.
There’s still time to buy tickets to Friday’s party, and if you’re skint, Do617 has a ticket giveaway running until later this afternoon. Vanyaland and Do617 are teaming up for a Robyn & Röyksopp pre-show meet-up party at Del Frisco’s on Northern Avenue, right near the Pavilion, around 7 p.m., which will give us a chance to share some Robyn dance moves and make sure our solitary boogie game is tight as fuck before we cross the Pavilion gates.
Call your girlfriend, call your boyfriend, call whomever you need to — because these are the greatest Robyn dance moves ever recorded. She’ll likely be flashing these gestures right back at us, so we’ll achieve some dance-pop singularity before the night’s over. We can dream.
10. “Do You Really Want Me,” 1993
More than two decades ago, and four years before global hit “Show Me Love,” Robyn was merely an awkward teen-pop hopeful with middle-parted hair looking to break through. “Do You Really Want Me” is a soft-R&B jam that’s pretty much the most ’90s thing we’ve ever seen, but look closely at the :33 to :36 second marks, and you see that poised shoulder shimmy that hints at great things to come. This is like watching Mike Trout take batting practice in Little League. Not only is it fucking adorable, but you see the talent just waiting to be unleashed.
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9. “You’ve Got That Something,” 1995
As the ’90s progressed, so did Robyn’s confidence. “You’ve Got That Something,” off 1995’s Robyn Is Here, was a Top 30 hit in her naive Sweden, and right there at the :53 second mark we see the first sign of the tumbling arm swing that could vault her to stardom in the 2000s. By this point she’s growing into her herself, and we’re experiencing a bolder Robyn. That swagger’s starting to bloom.
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8. “Sayit,” 2014
Here on the video for “Sayit,” the second single from Robyn & Röyksopp’s Do It Again mini-album, the singer’s casual but confident shoulder sways have given way to full on arm swing, and with the help of some fancy editing, the 2:19 mark shows us what we can do at our Pavilion seat — hover above it by leaning back sturdy as fuck then snapping back into place, stopping just short of the casual back-lean of the rad person in front of you. By 2:36, your hands are up in the air, but your elbows want you to chill, making for a one-man-gang of Friday night exuberance.
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7. “Dream On” (as a guest of Christian Falk), 2008
Acclaimed Swedish producer Christian Falk passed away on July 24 at the age of 52, and part of his musical legacy was his 2008 collaboration with Robyn on “Dream On.” The track hinted at what was to come on Robyn’s three-part Body Talk record (2010), but most importantly, from :36 to :41 we see Robyn breaking free from physical boundaries. Arms are extended over the head, then out-stretched wide, the dance equivalent of asking “The fuck you want from me? I’m Robyn. Here’s what I got.” There’s not much of her in this video, but this is a move all will be utilizing at the Pavilion. Streets is hot and so are the aisles.
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6. “Do It Again,” 2014
Another example of Robyn not getting much screen time, but like the final scenes of 1979 sci-fi classic Alien, what’s left out just adds to the imagination and intrigue. We get snapshots (see 4:31) of Robyn in full-on freakout mode, dancing as if there was a Broadway production of Girl Interrupted, elbows flying and torso spinning. It’s a freakout we want to see more of, but it might not be healthy for us.
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5. Hang With Me, 2010
We’re cheating here, because the only dancing Robyn gives us is via live clips, and dissecting her on-stage moves is a whole other listicle. But “Hang With Me,” off 2010’s Body Talk Part 2, remains this author’s favorite Robyn song of all time, and there at the end of the video starting at the 2:51 mark we get a double shot of the jubilation from both the stage and the studio, a triumphant throb of gun’s up and bent knees, a low pose ready to explode in full-bloom bona-fide Robyn awesomeness. This is a window into her world.
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4. “Keep This Fire Burning,” 2008
Now we’re getting to the good stuff. All the previous almost-moves and kinda-rhythms are full frontal here on 2008’s sultry “Keep This Fire Burning,” with Robyn giving us the goods in what looks like an ice cube (Sweden is cold!). You have the shoulder shimmy, the bended knees, the hand gestures and finger pointing — all signs that Robyn is holding shit down and you better back the fuck up. This might even be the best sign of the aggressive hand-slam, a true staple of her moves these days. “Treat me right,” she’s saying with her body, “or you best step off.”
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3. Dancing On My Own, 2010
Robyn’s bittersweet dance floor masterpiece is her career’s crowning achievement, breaking into pop culture (HBO’s Girls) and packing crowds at indie dance parties from here to Moscow. It’s pretty much the greatest song ever written. In the Max Vitali-directed video, our heroine is faily immobilized, singing in some sort of soundstage laboratory, occasionally walking through a crowd of people. But then, as the pulsating track reaches its glorious peak, right after she cries out a cappella “I’m in the corner/Watching you kiss her/Oh-oh-ohh,” the beats unleashes at 2:42 in rapidfire sequence and Robyn issues a violent beat-down to the air above, fists flying and arms thrusting to the heavens. You will be doing this with her at the show. Don’t even fucking play yourself. It will be the highlight of your summer.
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2. “Cobrastyle,” 2008
Two years away from asserting herself as the unrivaled Queen of Electro-Pop, Robyn’s video for “Cobrastyle” packs it all in: lavish high-stepping, the running man, arm windmills, you fucking name it, it’s in here. It’s animation in a centered circle, and there’s even paint involved. If you want to show off in front of your friends at the Pavilion, rock these moves and DGAF.
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1. “Call Your Girlfriend,” 2010
The finest music video of our generation is a culmination of everything we praised in the previous nine clips. “Call Your Girlfriend” has inspired multi-video YouTube tutorials, endless parodies, and even a tribute by the cast of Saturday Night Live in 2011. A single shot follows Queen R in a warehouse as she’s decked out in platform shoes, tights, and a furry top, and yet that doesn’t hold her back from throwing down the greatest dance moves since your dad first hit on your mom at Narcissus in Kenmore Square. Side-to-side sways, hand-claps, love punches, floor shags, arm tumbles, stutter-steps, shoulder dips, victory spins… Jesus fucking Christ there’s nothing this woman can’t do. And it all culminates in that sequence from 2:30 to 2:45, where everything, for once, is perfect in the world.
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