jenn’s best of 2010: music

In 2010, Lady Gaga got involved with repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, continued her 2-year straight world tour, and wore a meat dress to an award show. She did not, however, release any new music.

This means for the first (and maybe last) time since her debut, Lady Gaga has left the floor open for someone else to be the pop star of the year. Katy Perry, Rihanna and Nicki Minaj grabbed some colourful wigs and cranked out some number ones, but ultimately didn’t bring anything that new or interesting to the table. Gaga’s raised the bar for pop stars, and it takes a certain level of creativity, talent and inventiveness to play in her league.

Enter Robyn.

If you remember the 90s, (which you should; they’re awesome) you might recognize Robyn as some one hit wonder who sang Show Me Love. (Not to be mistaken for the Cardigans with Lovefool, or the song from She’s All That, or any other 90s pop hit about love that we tend to forget about on a regular basis). Fortunately, Robyn is not a one hit wonder. After the international success of her earlier albums, she went back to the drawing board and re-invented herself as an authentic electro-pop artist. Her 2005 album Robyn was a hit across Europe but barely made a dent in North America because we were far too busy with Good Charlotte and Justin Timberlake’s solo career to pay attention to good music.

Robyn spent five years working on her follow up album, which actually turned into three albums released over the course of 2010. Body Talk: Part One was released in June, Part Two in September and the final installment in November. Yeah, three albums in one year. Could your faves do that?

Let’s break it down one by one.

Body Talk Part One is amazing. The eight-track album starts off with “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do”, which is a spoken-word electronic track about the day-to-day problems (tours, landlords, crappy boyfriends).

From there, the album also includes an 80s-synth vibe track, an acoustic ballad, a futuristic dance track and non-stop attitude. She pushes herself to create different songs and sounds that can’t really be compared to anything else in her own discography, let alone what’s being done by her peers. When we compare her side by side to the other pop stars of the year, Dancing On My Own (the only official single off the album) is a better dance track, a better song about losing a guy and a better video (no whipped cream bras, for starters) than any other pop diva this year.

And that’s the first album.

Body Talk Part Two is amazing. This album doesn’t play around with different genres as the last installment, but instead sticks to the heavy dance tracks. In My Eyes, Love Kills and Criminal Intent are some of the best dance tracks you will hear. They’re true club songs: fast, hard and upbeat but without the shallow vanities of most other “club” songs (Like a G6 anyone?). She still sings about heartbreak, insecurity and the complex nature of relationships, just in a way 1000 times more enjoyable than anything T-Swift offers.

According to Pitchfork, Rolling Stone and every other music blog, the standout track is “U Should Know Better” featuring Snoop Dogg. This may or may not have to do with Snoop’s other duet of the year being California Gurls, an actual number one hit. It’s both a fan-fucking-tastic song and a great opportunity to scoff at the mainstream and feel like a musical elitist, but I’m going to go in another direction and say the best song on the album is Hang With Me.

Part One gave us the acoustic version, but Part Two delivers the real deal. The honest, heartfelt lyrics are only further illuminated by the rise and fall of the beat, making it the easiest song to jam to on your iPod when you feel like mentally belting out a song and pretending you’re a pop star. Or maybe that’s just me.

And that’s the second album.

Body Talk Part Three is amazing. The first track, Indestructible, was also the first single. It combines all the best elements of the previous albums – it’s a little slower, using both strings and synths, and is vocally and lyrically on point. “I’m going to love you like I’ve never been hurt before” is the kind of simple honesty that stings true you’d only expect to hear on a twangy ballad, but Robyn makes it work to the beat.

The album is the shortest of the three with only six new tracks, but just as strong as it’s predecessors. The Diplo-produced remix of Dancehall Queen, the uptempo and robotic (in a good way) Time Machine and the essentially perfect Call Your Girlfriend round out the album.

And that’s the third album.

When you combine them, you’re left with the most ambitious and impressive effort of the year. She manages to combine genuine emotion with futuristic sounds and is constantly progressing towards something new.  Releasing three albums in one year is a feat enough on itself, but when you factor in the solidity of each album: no filler songs, few weak points, a consistent energy and feeling of excitement, it becomes a whole new accomplishment.

Robyn might not sell out arenas or break North America like her peers, but based on talent alone she’s ahead by miles. Body Talk firmly plants her as the best music act of 2010, and the best pop star on the scene (who isn’t Lady Gaga).

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