Robyn’s ‘Dancing On My Own’ is one of those classic songs that has an undeniably sad interior underneath its upbeat-sounding exterior. For those who enjoy songs without listening to lyrics (something which, to this day, I still cannot fathom), you could be forgiven for believing this to be a song which is just about dancing, that is, if the title and the chorus are something you pay attention to.
The song, like most brilliant songs, has a fairly simple meaning to it. Robyn sings of her lover moving on to be with someone else. Wanting to know if he’s traded up or down, she sees him at a club, and despite her best efforts, still goes home alone since he has moved on. It’s sad and simple, and manages to convey these feelings of sadness perfectly concisely.
Inspired by the somber disco anthems by the likes of Ultravox and Donna Summer, Robyn’s ‘Dancing On My Own’ is definitely odd in that it can be used as either a dance track or a break-up track, but it’s the universal nature of it that appeals to me. How can a song so happy have such a depressing meaning, or how can such a depressing song sound so happy? The two are at complete odds with each other, and despite the contradictions, the song works better than one would think it could.
I’ve since discovered that Calum Scott performed a cover of this track in recent months. While I can see the appeal of his version, the down-tempo nature of the track takes away from the upbeat nature of the original, removing all sense of subtlety and turning it into a stereotypical ‘woe is me’ ballad. I’ll certainly be sticking with Robyn for this track.