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Not Fade Away 2007: Be Mine, by Robyn

"It's a good thing tears never show in the pouring rain." - Robyn

I know,I know. More tears. More heartbreak. What can I tell you? I'm a sucker for that stuff.

But before we get into that maybe this is a good time to admit to the odd home truth here. This blog has now covered 55 years and of those I'd been alive for 43 of them or thereabouts. And the closer we get to the present day the harder it is for me to select. That's not because I had too much to choose from. It's because I know I know less than I did about music.

That's partly because I'm not listening religiously to Gideon Coe and Ken Bruce every day (that covers the bases,right?) and so even with the input of social media I'd have to admit that I'm probably of an age where you wouldn't really expect me to have my finger on the pulse any more. Having a pulse is enough, I find.

But more than that - and more important than that in a way - is that I have a history with music and that has its own pull. And so when I first heard Amy Winehouse, for example, it reminded me that I loved the sixties girl groups when I was a kid and rediscovered them in my twenties. Winehouse's Back to Black speaks to that love and there's a pleasure in buying into this new version. Because in some way it speaks to my own story.

You could say the same about this week's choice. Robyn's Be Mine reminds me of Madonna - Papa Don't Preach era mostly - and how much I loved the material girl once and how when I first saw her my then girlfriend admitted to being jealous because I voiced that appreciation.

The echoes of music I once loved is, almost inevitably, an extra hook. It has a pull to it that perhaps snags me more than it should but I reckon it's kind of inevitable.

That said, Robyn is also a signifier for a very noughties pop development - the apotheosis of Scandipop. From Abba via the Sugarcubes and the Cardigans, the Nordic countries always had a presence in pop culture since the seventies, but in the noughties they took over and started doing everything Britain used to do with pop - approach it with a accessible intelligence and a quirky novelty. And that stretches from the avant garde leanings of Bjork and Sigur Ros to the indie melancholy of The Radio Dept to the full-fat in-your-face pop of Junior Senior and Alphabeat.

Robyn might be the perfect median in this spectrum. She is approachable yet fashion-forward (that angular haircut setting off her baby face: NB there's a book to be written about pop haircuts, I reckon), mainstream-friendly, but spiky with it. If Sweden's Annie treats boys like chewing gum, Robyn takes more of a sorrow-than-anger approach to men's failings. But she will call them out for them too.

All of which makes the heartache apparent in Be Mine all the more intense. There's a story of a boy and girl here that's both universal and specific (that detail of the new girl wearing the scarf Robyn gave the boy gets me every time).

Pop songs can be about whatever you want them to be about. There are no limits on the form. But the reason that it keeps coming back again and again to love and romance is not just commerce and custom. It's because for all of us there are times in our life that this stuff matters.

Or maybe I just never got over that girl in primary school.

To be honest 2007 was a rough year for me. Family illness. Grief. The usual stuff that comes to you at a certain age. If I'm honest, the song I listened to most that year was an album track on Tracey Thorn's Out of the Woods album. Hands Up to the Ceiling was a short scrap of a song that kicked my heart in every time I listened to it. Sung in that gorgeous dolorous voice, it's a song about remembering what it was like to be young and the things you loved then and how quickly, how easily they slipped away until you woke up and realised you'd never feel like you did that again.

But listening to it felt like picking a scab. Robyn's heartbreak felt a more generalised emotion. It's something I recognised but it didn't hit quite so close to home as it might have 20 years before. And at the time maybe that distance was what I needed.

Anyway, I love Be Mine more than With Every Heartbeat - Robyn's other knockout pop classic in 2007 - for lots of other reasons. For the stripped-back arrangement, for the tish-tish-tish of the synthetic beats, for that slight accent she has when she sings, for the talky bit (every pop song should have a talky bit), for the scene in the video where Robyn smiles and you think maybe there's a tomorrow. I like it because I think Madonna could sing it, because of that kicking haircut and because of the way the track finishes on a rushing breath.

I like it just because. What other reason do you need?

Other Contenders

With Every Heartbeat, Robyn and Kleerup

Hands Up to the Ceiling, Tracey Thorn

To Build a Home, Cinematic Orchestra

The Park, Feist (mostly for that note she holds and holds and holds near the end)

Golden Skans,Klaxons

Umbrealla, Rihanna

Leslie, King Creosote

Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, Radiohead

Paper Planes, M.I.A.

Song 4 Mutya,Groove Armada [featuring Mutya Buena]

Overpowered, Roisin Murphy

Take Control, Amerie

Crush, Amerie

The NME Single of the Year: Golden Skans, Klaxons

Festive 50 Winner: Atlas,Battles

And the Year's Best-Selling Single: Bleeding Love, Leona Lewis

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