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Breaking Artist: Robyn

Robyn
Rankin/Universal Music Group
April 2, 2008 2:42 PM ET

Who: Swedish pop queen Robyn, who eschewed a career as the Scandinavian Jessica Simpson on her way to becoming Sweden's Gwen Stefani. Ten years after abandoning the spotlight following her hit "Show Me Love," the singer is back with a self-titled album that both indie rock geeks and Top 40 radio listeners can enjoy.

Sounds Like: A platinum blonde synthesis of Britney Spears and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Karen O, except Swedish. With a team of songwriters and producers that include the Knife, the Teddybears and Kleerup, Robyn explains her new album is "pop music, but it's OK to like it." Singles like "With Every Heartbeat" and "Be Mine!" have already conquered European charts and seem poised to have similar luck here.

Vital Stats

• Robyn linked up with pop hit machine Max Martin before the songwriter wrote Britney Spears' "... Baby One More Time." However, "It was frustrating for me to be a teen star," says Robyn, explaining why she canceled a planned tour with the Backstreet Boys that would've jettisoned her to superstardom.

 

• The battle between Robyn's avant-garde impulses and her desire to connect with a pop audience are the result of a childhood traveling with her parents' experimental theater company. "I definitely considered my parents to be pretty pretentious when I was growing up," she says. "Hip-hop and R&B music were a way to separate myself from them."

• After a falling out with her previous record label Jive over singles they deemed were too weird (such as the Knife-produced "Who's That Girl"), Robyn started her own label, recorded and released her self-titled album on her own in Europe before hooking up with Interscope for the U.S. release.

Hear It Now: Robyn's album finally hits American shores May 6th. Head over to her MySpace page to sample some tracks, or watch the above video of Robyn's interview with Rolling Stone at the South By Southwest festival.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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