You know when you forget something happened musically and then rediscover it, feel great about it, but also kind of annoyed at yourself for forgetting something that magical? That’s how I felt when I rediscovered the Robyn cover of Björk‘s Hyperballad this week.
I remember the first time I heard Robyn clearly. It’s very 90s. I shouldn’t tell you if I wanna keep my punk status or maybe admitting this is punk. Because it’s very anti-establishment to do uncool things and not be ashamed of it. So hi, I’m a punk rock princess and the first time I heard Robyn, I was at a bowling alley.
Look, I told you it was the 90’s.
I also remember the first time I heard Björk. I was a kid and it was on the BRIT awards, and it might even have been the BRIT awards where Jarvis Cocker acted like a prick (quelle surprise), but don’t quote me on that. In the words of Paramore, “When this memory fades, I’m gonna make sure it’s replaced.”
Which it was.
By Björk and PJ Harvey covering the Stones’ Satisfaction.
I think everybody — at least in the UK — thought Robyn was a one-hit-wonder. She had a Smash Hits song word card for one of the best jams of the 90s, Show Me Love, and then disappeared. It was in the late noughties that she had her resurgence with some of the decade’s best hits. There was queer anthem Dancing On My Own — ruinously slaughtered by some dude on a piano in St. Pancras International — With Every Heartbeat, Konichiwa Bitches, and Who’s That Girl? to name but a few.
2010 was Robyn’s year. The Polar Music Prize asking her to pay tribute to the one and only Björk (how I’m imagining it went down) not only made sense, it was imperative. It must be terrifying to perform somebody’s song in front of them, and both humbling and exposing to hear somebody sing your song in front of you.
Hyperballad is such an emotionally brutal song that for both parties and the entire audience there, the atmosphere must have been as electric as her rendition.