How Robyn transformed pop

After almost a decade away, Robyn is about to release a new album. Laura Snapes examines her seismic cultural impact

In Ibiza, at the beginning of August, the Swedish pop icon Robyn was throwing a party at Pikes, the small, labyrinthine villa where Wham! filmed the video for Club Tropicana. Wearing her “purple rain” disco pants (one resplendent fringed leg, one bare) and wielding a glass of white wine, she snuck a song from her new album in between selections of South African jazz, New York soul and Chicago house. At 2.10am, she climbed on to the DJ booth to shimmy to Barbara Tucker’s deep house classic Beautiful People, phone camera flashes illuminating the sweaty fug.

The night marked the release of Missing U, the first single from Robyn’s first solo album in eight years. Since 2010 – when she released Body Talk, the album that confirmed her as one of the most influential pop artists of the past 20 years – Robyn has lost one of her oldest friends, split from her long-term partner, released three collaborative EPs, questioned whether she should continue making music, reunited with her long-term partner and re-evaluated her entire life. The longer she was away, the more desperate her fans grew, counting the agonising years as if waiting for their husbands to return from war.

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