In 2013, Robyn met an automated version of herself. A group of student engineers in Sweden were building a robot that approximated the Swedish pop star’s freewheeling dancing style, and ever the technophile, she showed up herself to observe its progress. She looked on as the diminutive and half-finished machine waved its arms and undulated with an ecstatic tremor.
“The robot is cute,” she said hesitantly. “I think that it’s really good that it has a vulnerability to it.”
Her words about the synthetic imitator could apply to several fleshier ones as well. It’s been eight years since Robyn released her last album, “Body Talk,” and in the interim it seems like a whole generation of inheritors has emerged, each one specifically engineered to mimic and embellish her once-unique sensibilities.
At first glance, it might seem like Robyn’s heartfelt and brilliant new single, “Missing U,” fits squarely into the current era of bright synthesizers and depressive lyrics. But Robyn’s not following the trend here — she helped start it. Indeed, she was one of the central architects of this pop moment. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, than the pop world has been flattering Robyn for some quite some time.