Modern Love

“Dancing on my Own” is the Heartbreak Anthem of Our Time

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In 2010, the Swedish pop elf Robyn released the album Body Talk 1, an event that set in motion a cosmic chain reaction that would forever alter post-heartbreak dance parties. Luckily for Robyn and all of us, HBO megahit Girls featured the song “Dancing on my Own,” which led to the Golden Globes playing it to accompany both of Lena Dunham’s victory strolls to the stage. According to Robyn’s label, that night the song’s sales were twice the weekly average. These days you can’t shake a glow stick in a club without hitting someone who’s asked a DJ to play it.

Then King’s of Leon went on Radio1 and did this:

 We are collectively in love with this ubiquitous song and it’s time to call a spade a spade, team. Robyn’s “Dancing on my Own” is the heartbreak anthem of our generation, and here’s why:

The Lyrics

“Ya I know it’s stupid, I just gotta see it for myself”

Facebook stalking. Instagram peeping. Twitter stalking. Text snooping. Google alerts.

We are all a bunch of sad, creepy masochists. How did our parents do breakups? It must have been so healthy to have an extensive mourning period and then have no occasion to see your ex unless you happened to run into each other. But we can’t do that! We want to know everything. We crave information, even if we click on their page knowing that we’re about to commit e-hara kiri. Look, we know it’s stupid. We just HAVE to see it for ourselves.

“I’m right over here. Why can’t you see me?
I’m giving it my all, I’m not the girl you’re taking home.”

Ugh, daggers in the heart! You recognize this feeling. We are go-getters and while we’ve abandoned the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” narrative of our parents’ generation, we are used to working hard for what we want. We don’t accept defeat and we don’t take breakups lying down. Romantic comedies taught us to pull out all the stops and attempt to woo lovers with grand gestures. The realization that you’re doing everything you can and they still aren’t choosing you? Ouch.

There’s only one thing to do…

“I’m just gonna dance all night.”

SHE OFFERS US THE PERFECT SOLUTION. Heartbreak is so awful and you constantly feel like you’re about to throw-up not only your heart but your lungs and probably soul, too. So what can you do? DANCE. It’s cheesy, sure, but is it not true? I challenge you to NOT dance your pain away to this song. The synths, you guys. THE SYNTHS.

This song has it all. It has the drama-on-the-dancefloor theme of “Dancing Queen.” Like mega-heartbreak hit “I Will Survive,” it’s danceable, beltable and has a mantra. I will survive. I’m gonna dance on my own. Screw you, Robyn’s ex.


And the Video.

It’s so good!

It starts with everyone dancing and whipping their hair in slow motion and she’s just STANDING THERE. Because she just came to say goodbye! And then when she starts to dance she’s completely bonkers, just like we all are. She’s like, “I don’t care if you’re happy with her or whatever because look at my dance moves, bitch. I’m a free spirit and I just want to move!” She probably punches the air fifty times in this video and honestly, it’s empowering. She’s only wearing one earring, which maybe implies that she’s not quite herself yet but goddamnit, she’s trying and she looks fab. Then at 2:17 she sees them kissing and anyone with a pulse who’s watching just dies a little for her because it’s AWFUL. At 2:42 she loses her shit and does so many more air punches because she’s in pain! And we know how that feels. Maybe it’s not the club; maybe we see something on instagram but Robyn, you see us. We are seen.

Then around 3:02 it gets REALLY good, because Robyn is in the club with them and she’s dancing, too! Sure, she’s in the corner watching them kiss but whatever, she’s growing back like a starfish. She’s dancing through the pain. The video doesn’t show her sobbing in the cab on the way home, but we know how that feels, too.

This song is going to stand the test of time, mark my words. It’s honest, catchy and perfect for sad dancing. Every remix or cover of it is more amazing than the last. It’s good in your iPod on the train, dancing in a club while you accidentally sad-fling your gin all over your friends or when you’re wailing it in the shower. Robyn, your loss is our gain.

Images via 1, 2