Rockin’ Robyn (embarrassingly bad pun)

Robyn, the Swedish electro-pop sensation who has “topped the charts while keeping her clothes on” (HEADLINE NEWS, apparently), is rightly garnering some serious acclaim. Her songs are catchy, dance-y, and have that glossy sheen to their sound which can only come from costly production – the kind usually reserved for artists like Rihanna and Katy Perry.

Beyond being good “pop,” I think she’s using her music to make some interesting social commentary.  In her song “Fembot” I believe Robyn is exploring some cyborg-feminist themes.

In the verses and chorus of the song “Fembot” she lists her technical specs.  Some examples:

“My system’s in mint condition, the power’s up on my transistors.”

“Working fine, no glitches, plug me in and flip some switches.”

“I’ve got a lotta automatic booty applications.”

“Digitally chic titanium armour.”

Her lyrics contain two powerful themes – woman as a commodity, and woman as a tool:

1. The commodification of women — fembots are available for purchase, a toy designed to fulfill the sexual desires of men (hmm, I think we might have heard this message before). Note the lyric “initiating slut mode.”

2. Woman as a tool, as an assemblage of various functions — When asked about the meaning of “Fembot,” Robyn responded: “I’m playing around with the concept of being a woman, and what it means to physically be able to carry kids, but at the same time that’s not always what you see yourself as.”  So when she lists all of the fembot specs, she’s really talking about how women are often reduced to their physical “functionality” as baby making machines.

I think that the real irony of the song is clear in the first line, when Robyn brightly sings, “I’ve got some news for you. Fembots have feelings too.”

Give it a listen. While you’re at it, give “Call your Girlfriend” a listen as well (if only to enjoy the awesome dancing in the video.  Single shot).  I have a feeling this song is becoming a lesbian anthem.  And while you’re at it, listen to “Indestructible” (this video is 18+ on youtube due to steaminess). They’re all great pop hits that, according to Pitchfork, contain a “sophistication and melancholy that separate her from the Fergies of the world.”

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3 Comments on “Rockin’ Robyn (embarrassingly bad pun)”

  • radfem

    This is really good ! Nice to see a new artist with interesting lyrics :))

  • Miranda BB

    I’m a huge Robyn fan (it started when I went to hang out with my Norwegian friend in Norway and everyone was going Scandinavian celebrity crazy for Robyn. I even got to see her live at a festival there, mind you, it was dark and across a river, but still exciting). It’s nice to hear some lyrics that mean stuff and don’t just tell us the days of the week. And the music’s awesome too! It’s great to see and read about interviews with Robyn because she’s just normal – less glossy than those others and with more to say, or at least more worth listening to.

    Nice blogging, Anna, you always have something interesting to say.

  • I love Robyn! She really does seem so much more real and normal than other female pop artists. Have to admit I never contemplated the lyrics of Fembot, but the meanings are interesting. I need to listen to her lyrics more next time I play her album!

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