Dancing on My Own

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This article is about the Robyn song. For the Pixie Lott song, see Young Foolish Happy.
"Dancing on My Own"
Single by Robyn
from the album Body Talk Pt. 1
Released 1 June 2010 (2010-06-01)
Format CD single, digital download
Genre Electropop, synthpop, disco
Length 4:39
Label Konichiwa
Writer(s) Robyn, Patrik Berger
Producer(s) Patrik Berger, Robyn (co.)
Certification Platinum (DEN)
Robyn singles chronology
"The Girl and the Robot"
(2009)
"Dancing on My Own"
(2010)
"Hang with Me"
(2010)
Music video
"Dancing On My Own" on YouTube

"Dancing on My Own" is a song by Swedish recording artist Robyn, taken from her fifth studio album, Body Talk Pt. 1 (2010). The song was written and produced by Robyn and Patrik Berger, and was inspired by gay disco anthems by Ultravox, Sylvester and Donna Summer. The song was released as Body Talk Pt. 1's lead single on 1 June 2010, in Sweden and the United States. "Dancing on My Own" is an electronic ballad that speaks of a female protagonist who dances alone in a club while watching her ex-lover with another woman.

"Dancing on My Own" received positive reviews from critics, who compared its theme of loneliness to Robyn's previous singles "With Every Heartbeat" and "Be Mine!" The song peaked atop the Sverigetopplistan chart, becoming Robyn's first number one in her native country. The song also reached the top ten in Denmark, Norway, Scotland and the United Kingdom. In the United States, the song managed to reach number three on the Hot Dance Club Songs chart. "Dancing on My Own" was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording.

The accompanying music video was directed by Max Vitali and sees Robyn walking around alone in a club, and cutscenes of her standing in front of a microphone pole on a stage-like setting. Robyn has performed the song numerous times, notably on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. "Dancing on My Own" was also used on television shows such as Gossip Girl and Girls. On 12 September 2010, she performed it at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards with deadmau5.

Background[edit]

"Dancing on My Own" was inspired by Robyn's "love of inherently sad, gay disco anthems", such as Ultravox's "Dancing with Tears in My Eyes" and songs by Sylvester and Donna Summer.[1] In an interview with Ryan Dombal of Pitchfork, Dombal noted that the album tried new musical directions, while "Dancing on My Own" sounds "like what we've come to expect from a Robyn song", and Robyn explained, "I felt like I really found my voice on the last album, [...] And I wrote 'With Every Heartbeat', so there's a reason why 'Dancing on My Own' sounds similar. For me, that's a good thing."[2] "Dancing on My Own" was released as the first official single from Body Talk Pt. 1 via digital download on 1 June 2010 in Sweden and the United States.[3][4] The song was serviced for mainstream airplay in the United States on 2 November 2010.[5]

Composition[edit]

A 28-second sample of "Dancing on My Own", featuring parts of the middle eight and chorus.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Dancing on My Own" was composed by Robyn and Patrik Berger in the key of F sharp major.[6] The electronic ballad[7] features hammerdrill throbbing synths[8] and electronic percussions.[9] It incorporates elements of electro and disco.[10] James Montgomery of MTV News described the song as "a computerized kaleidoscope of chippy, chiming blips and piston-like drums."[11] The song's emotional lyrics were compared to the themes of her previous singles, "With Every Heartbeat" and "Be Mine!"[10] According to sheet music published at Musicnotes.com by Universal Music Publishing Group, "Dancing on My Own" carries a metronome of 117 beats per minute. Robyn's vocals in the song spans from the note of C#4 to Eb5.[6]

"Dancing on My Own" has been described as a heartbreak anthem.[7][11] It speaks of a woman who is dancing alone in a club, while watching her ex-lover with another woman.[12] Montgomery noted that the "throughly sad song [talks] about Robyn losing her man to another woman, but also about the notion of feeling alone in a crowded room, of being lost and unloved and having no other choice but to be OK with those things."[11] Ben Norman of About.com wrote that "[the song] is emotive and describes Robyn's night out, morosely watching the object of her affection choose another lady while she dances in the corner with herself."[13] The song features lines such as, "I'm in the corner, watching you kiss her. I'm right over here, why can't you see me? I'm giving it my all, but I'm not the girl you're taking home."[12] In contrast to "With Every Heartbeat" being "grimly optimistic", a The Guardian writer noted that "Dancing on My Own" offers "no hope that things may get better."[12] In an interview with MTV News, Robyn spoke of the song, saying, "I mean, for me, of course it's a sad love song, but it's a strong song as well, or at least that's what I want people to feel when they listen to it."[11] In an interview with Pitchfork, she further elaborated on the song's theme, saying;

"People have so many expectations when they go out, so many wishes about what their night is going to be: if they're going to meet that person, have a fun time with their friends, have a good high, hear good music. People get drunk and turn into themselves in a way, and they go to experience some kind of emotion. But it's not always about fun. There's a destructive side to it. But I'm more into the empowerment of going out, because it's always been the place where I could be myself and get inspired. Even if I'm sad, dancing is a way to let stuff out."[2]

Critical reception[edit]

Robyn performing "Dancing on My Own" at the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Concert

Nick Levine of Digital Spy gave the song five out of five stars and wrote that "'Dancing On My Own' is a misty-eyed electro-disco tune that's every bit as emotive as 'With Every Heartbeat' and 'Be Mine' [...] If your bottom lip's not quivering like the bassline by the time the second chorus hits, you've taken waaay too many mood stabilisers."[10] Luke Lewis of NME referred to the song as "a comet-trail of sadness and exhilaration that's easily the equal of Robyn's breakthrough hit, 'With Every Heartbeat'."[14] The Guardian's Michael Hann stated that song's "pulsing synths and electronic percussion manage to sound both jackbooted and ineffably melancholy."[9] Jer Fairall wrote for PopMatters that "[t]he aggressive stun-gun rhythm of 'Dancing on My Own' can't hide a classic drama-played-out-on-the-dancefloor scenario inherited from standard bearers like ABBA's 'Dancing Queen' and Madonna's 'Into the Groove', nor is it cold enough not to melt at the touch of Robyn's warm, yearning vocals or the song's shimmering keyboard chime."[15] Matthew Horton of BBC Music described "Dancing on My Own" – along with "Fembot" and "Cry When You Get Older" – as "scorchingly catchy, and laced with Robyn's familiar cordial of sparkling hook mixed with unutterable poignancy."[16]

Slant Magazine named "Dancing on My Own" the best song of 2010, writing: "Few artists risk Robyn's emotional nakedness, and with "Dancing on My Own" she reveals the exquisite flipside to her more empowered "With Every Heartbeat."[17] The Guardian named it the best song of the year as well, writing: "Dancing On My Own is an extraordinary addition to Robyn's canon of skewed love songs; thoughtful and romantic enough for stuck-on-repeat listening, but with a pop sensibility that makes you want to head out in search of a dancefloor."[9] Pitchfork named it the fourth best of 2010, saying that it "demonstrate[s] that she is the Rocky Balboa of pop music."[18] Rolling Stone named it the twenty-sixth best song of 2010, writing: "The Swedish diva spots her beloved with another girl — then turns her sadness into sparkling pop, perfect for solo freakouts."[19] The song landed at number six on MTV's Best Songs of 2010, with James Montgomery writing: "as soon as "Dancing" gets to that hair-raising build — a breathless rush of drums and adrenaline — you're no longer thinking about what Robyn's saying, really."[11] The song was nominated at the 53rd Grammy Awards in the category Best Dance Recording,[20] but lost to "Only Girl (In the World)" by Rihanna.[21]

Chart performance[edit]

"Dancing on My Own" debuted at number two on the Sverigetopplistan chart on the issue dated 11 June 2010. The following weeks, the song ascended and descended between number two and number three, before reaching the top position on the issue dated 30 July 2010.[22] The song became Robyn's first number one on the chart, as well as her seventh top-ten hit.[22] In Denmark, "Dancing on My Own" debuted at number thirty-three on the issue dated 18 June 2010. After steadily ascending on the chart for several weeks, the song reached its peak of number two on the issue dated 6 August 2010. It has since then been certified platinum by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry in Denmark for selling over 30,000 units.[23] In Norway, the song debuted at number six, which became its peak.[24]

The song peaked at number twenty-two on the European Hot 100 Singles chart, becoming her highest peaking song on the chart.[25] On the UK Singles Chart, it debuted and peaked at number eight on the issue dated 26 June 2010,[26] immediately becoming Robyn's best charting single in the country since "With Every Heartbeat" in 2007.[27] "Dancing on My Own" also reached number three on the UK Dance Chart.[28] In Scotland, the song debuted and peaked at number five.[29] In the United States, "Dancing on My Own" debuted at number forty on the Hot Dance Club Songs chart. On the issue dated 17 July 2010, it reached its peak of number three and stayed on that position for two weeks.[30]

Music video[edit]

Robyn standing in front a microphone stand in the music video

The music video for "Dancing on My Own" was filmed in a studio in Stockholm, Sweden. It was directed by Max Vitali, who previously worked with Robyn on the second music video for her 2005 single "Be Mine!"[31] Decida choreographed it, and Nils Ljunggren served as the producer. Visually, Vitali wanted the video the be simple; it was made to resemble Robyn's live performances and her then-upcoming tour.[31] In a behind-the-scenes video, Robyn said, "It's going to be looking a little bit like what I'm going to bring on tour. So it's a performance video but it's also going to be in I guess something like a rave or like a club or somewhere where people are dancing."[32] She explained that the video is about being sad on the dance floor and the main focus is dancing.[32] The video features a club setting, where Robyn is walking around and watching her ex-boyfriend with another woman.[33] In cutscenes, Robyn is standing on a stage-like setting, while singing in front of a microphone stand.

The video premiered via Robyn's official Vimeo account on 21 May 2010.[34] One day earlier, a behind-the-scenes video was uploaded to her official website.[35] Ryan Dombal of Pitchfork wrote of the video, "When you're a star, sometimes all you need to do is put on a casually stylish outfit, gaze into a lens, move your limbs around in a rhythmic manner, and-- just like that-- a high-quality music video is born. Robyn is a star. And that's exactly what happens in this video."[36] Leslie Simon of MTV Buzzworthy named it a "Video You Need To Know" and wrote, "Amid a sea of strobe lights and PDA-stricken couples, Robyn seems cautiously fed up with dancing solo. Sad. We'll dance with you, lady!"[37]

Live performances[edit]

Robyn performed the song on BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge on 16 June 2010.[38] She also performed the song on Capital 95.8 FM during a live session on 23 June 2010.[39] The first live performance on US television was on the Late Show with David Letterman on 19 July 2010.[40] Robyn performed the song on the All Hearts joint tour with American singer Kelis.[41] On 30 July 2010, she took a break from the tour to appear on Iheartradio in New York City, where she performed "Dancing on My Own" and a cover of Alicia Keys' "Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart".[42] On 12 September 2010, Robyn performed a remixed version of the song with in-house DJ deadmau5 at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards.[43] The two did not rehearse the performance until the morning of the show, and Robyn said, "I met him for, like, five minutes, and then we were playing."[44] A few days later, Robyn spoke to MTV News about the performance, saying, "usually, awards shows can be so strange, but [the VMAs] felt really real. There were so many stars there and so many expectations, so I wanted to make sure I went up onstage and did something that felt real, and I got all this love from all the people at MTV. I felt really wanted. It was really amazing."[44]

The song was featured on the 1 November 2010 episode of the teen drama Gossip Girl, titled "War at the Roses", where Robyn also performed an acoustic rendition of "Hang with Me". On 11 November 2010, she performed the song on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.[45] On 24 November 2010, she performed it on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.[46] On 11 December 2010, she performed it alongside "Indestructible" and "Jag vet en dejlig rosa" at the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway.[47] She also performed the song on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on 13 April 2011,[48] followed by a performance on the outdoor stage on Jimmy Kimmel Live! the next day.[49] She also performed the song during the Body Talk Tour.[50] On December 10, 2011, Robyn performed the song on Saturday Night Live.[51]

Formats and track listings[edit]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Source[59]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Radio dates and release history[edit]

List of release dates, showing country, formats released, and record label
Country Release date Format(s) Label
Sweden[3] 1 June 2010 Digital download Konichiwa Records
United States[4] Interscope Records
Germany[53][54] 11 June 2010 CD single, digital download Ministry of Sound
United Kingdom[68] 13 June 2010 Digital download Universal Music
20 July 2010 CD single
United States[5] 2 November 2010 Mainstream airplay Interscope Records

References[edit]

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External links[edit]