A new New York Times profile of Robyn, ahead of next month’s release of her first album in eight years, Honey, spends much of its time exploring the emotional depths of the Swedish pop singer’s music. One already well-documented anecdote that’s included bears another look, though, as it encapsulates the many layers of Robyn’s uniqueness in the pop landscape. After the release of her 1995 debut, Robyn Is Here, which contained the U.S. Top 10 hits “Do You Know (What It Takes)“ and “Show Me Love,” her career in the States was temporarily halted by her label in part due to the subject matter of some songs on her followup, 1999's My Truth.
For the Times, Caryn Ganz writes:
Its follow-up, “My Truth,” didn’t make it to the States, partly because Robyn included songs she wrote about having an abortion. “You can’t really talk about stuff like that in America, or you couldn’t at the time,” she said. “Not if you were an 18-year-old pop star.” Her 2002 LP, “Don’t Stop the Music,” was likewise only released outside the United States.
Previous reports on this matter indicated that Robyn had refused RCA’s request to rerecord songs for the album. Pop songs about abortion are rare, but that degree of uncompromising resolve (so early in one’s career, to boot) is perhaps rarer. (Incidentally, in its June 19, 1999 issue, Billboard reported that Robyn had a miscarriage, not an abortion.)
The two songs Robyn wrote for the Swedish-released album about her abortion— “Giving You Back” and “88 Days”—are available on YouTube:
Elsewhere in the Times piece, Robyn discusses her new album, her tireless revising of its title track “Honey” (which Ganz refers to as Robyn’s “white whale”), and aging in pop. Ganz writes:
At what point should pop careers end, I asked Robyn...“I think you either end it, or you keep evolving,” she said. “You might not want to evolve in the public eye. But I think that’s what it takes.” She said she was choosing to evolve.