« Previous | Main | Next »

Robyn - 'With Every Heartbeat'

Post categories:

Fraser McAlpine | 09:58 UK time, Monday, 30 July 2007

RobynHere's a shocking piece of news for you: I love pop music. I know, right? I'll give you a few seconds to recover from the bludgeoning that totally unexpected piece of information delivered to your brain, perhaps while you pull yourself over to a chair and grab some smelling salts, and then I can tell you why. Ready? It's easy: because there are no rules. Anything goes.

One of the criticisms that unthinking people level at pop music is that it's formulaic, and to a certain extent they're right: lazy, uninspired pop music is formulaic. That's pretty much the reason why so many failed acts litter the hard shoulder of the pop M25, holding up a dog-eared piece of cardboard in the hope of cadging a lift back to Warrington or wherever. It's because some exec somewhere saw a brilliant idea, thought it would be easy to recreate, but without realising that good ideas depreciate faster than a brand new car.

And the public aren't stupid, unless you can come up with the magic, the reason why this act or this song deserves to exist alongside someone who's already been down this road, something that gives it value, people won't fall for it. Which is why the truly great popstars take one look at 'The Rules', scoff heartily and lob them out of the window.

One of the brilliant things that Xenomania did for Girls Aloud was to think "why have one brilliant chorus when you could have two?", correctly deducing that the more catchy hooks you throw at a song, no matter how uneven the joins, the more chance you have of latching into someone's brain and dangling from their frontal lobe mercilessly until they give in and get their cash out. But the thing is, and this is how pop music is brilliant: the reverse is also true. Lots of choruses is a fantastic idea, but you can still produce an amazing song WITH NO CHORUS WHATSOEVER. And, having rambled on seemingly incoherently for two paragraphs, this brings me to 'With Every Heartbeat'.

By rights, the lack of a real chorus should be a big problem. Without it you lack that sense of warm, snuggly familiarity, that bit that everyone knows how to sing along to when it comes on the radio, the bit you know you're going to get right second time around if you try to karaoke it. And yet, when you peel this song apart, it's actually very cylical regardless: odd lines are repeated, but carefully chosen as if to reinforce the point that a new line just made.

It actually feels like a very real train of thought, where you come back to something you were thinking earlier, only having returned to it by a roundabout route you've now got better reasons for thinking it, which is why the sombre repetitions of this song (notably "I don't look back", >"we could keep trying but things will never change" and "I'm dying with every step I take") become sharper, more cutting every time you hear them.

There's a trembling quality to Robyn's voice in this song - as though she could fall apart at any moment but is keeping herself together by sheer force of will - which adds enormously to the fighting spirit of a song that is pessimistic without being bleak. In effect, the backing takes over chorus duty from the lyrics by looping itself; it lacks variance and is the main constant in the song, changing only to become more prominent, more insistent, and of course pumping away like the very same heartbeat what they named the song after.

And by the time Robyn breaks into the final refrain "and it hurts with every heartbeat", repeated over and over again, not a sketch of the meaning is wasted. You want to know how to write a pop song with maximum effect? Here's your answer.

Five starsDownload: Out now
CD Released:
August 6th

(Steve Perkins)


  1. At 12:34 PM on 30 Jul 2007, chris wrote:

    i love love love this song with every piece of me, have done for months, it should be massive!

  2. At 01:20 PM on 30 Jul 2007, Danielle wrote:

    Hurrah for Robyn and Kleer Up!! I love this song!

    Went to see Robyn back in march (the allure of a tiny gig never fades) and this was one of the tracks that really stuck out. It was a crowd favourite even then, amongst all the fans from I presume, europe that had already had her album for like, years.

    Love the track, the lyrics mean alot to me and overall, I'm glad Robyn is gonna be back in the charts! (and that i already have my tickets to her bush hall gig in sept).

    It should be played LOUD!

  3. At 01:25 PM on 30 Jul 2007, Chris wrote:

    I agree this song is good , and I'm not even a pop fan!


  4. At 03:47 PM on 30 Jul 2007, iain wrote:

    other ("proper") version of video...


  5. At 10:05 AM on 01 Aug 2007, Kat wrote:

    It's good but I don't like it.. how strange

  6. At 04:31 PM on 05 Aug 2007, Steve F wrote:

    'Bout time Robyn gets recognition, and if there's any justice the single will elevate Robyn to major artiste status. The really great thing is, if you love this song, there are even better on the album - Who's That Girl and Crash & Burn Girl really coming up trumps. Pop is back! (and so is Robyn!).

  7. At 08:09 PM on 08 Aug 2007, Gary H GaydarRadio wrote:

    I had Robyn on my show last night, and she was adorable.

    Not to mention talented and determined!

    Album is amazing too, single is already Top 5 in UK charts on downloads alone.

    Podcast of interview is on myspace page:


  8. At 12:22 AM on 09 Aug 2007, Trevor wrote:

    The Summer anthem has been declared move over Rihanna and your bloody umbrella!

    This tune is amazing so are is the new video Robyn has come back with a bang!

    Lyrics emotional and true "it hurts with every heartbeat"

    Shapeshifters Lola's theme has been the summer anthem of past now we all have something new to dance to in the streets.

    The official number 1 on the official top 40 station!

  9. At 11:28 PM on 12 Aug 2007, Jenny T wrote:

    Hats off, the girls done well. The songs been revamped but as with so many 'hits', the track has been bombarded with too many electrical hints.

    I heard the live lounge version aired on 8th August and that should be the release. Simple, uncomplicated and most definitely, very original.

  10. At 06:59 PM on 13 Aug 2007, laydee LV --x wrote:

    OMGG ,, i love this song so0 much ,, im into dance and mc's more ma self tho --x =D

  11. At 09:44 AM on 14 Aug 2007, Barty wrote:

    I don't know what it is about this song.....so many things combine.

    Its basically a nice dance tune....after the re-working. That starts it off on a good footing as far as my ear's concerned.

    Robyn's vocal is distinctive, that little Scandinavian twang to her accent that makes it a little different. Ratchet it up another notch.

    That hook grabs you....."i dont look back" so the song gets stuck in your brain.

    If that hook doesnt grab you, then you get "and it hurts with every heartbeat". Your brain's hooked now, innit?

    Then you watch the video.....Her frowns and pained expressions, she's really feeling her song, going backwards through life, dodging all the stuff thats falling down around her, then splattered by a brick and swept away....

    First your ear.....then your brain.....then tugging at your emotions.

    All you need now is something going on in your life that makes you identify with her struggle.....a rocky relationship....a friendship going down the tubes.....

    So soon after the stunning Kate Nash and the awesome Timbaland, Robyn has come along and stolen the No.1 position in Barty's Chart of 2007.

    She won't give it up easily.

  12. At 02:33 PM on 14 Aug 2007, sian wrote:

    Great song

    Video cud be better

    but song is great. !!

    shud be no1 4 a long time

  13. At 02:31 AM on 15 Aug 2007, brondum44 wrote:

    Couldn't agree more. My favourite song of the summer by far. May it's reign at the top be as long as the song is great,,

  14. At 01:14 PM on 28 Aug 2007, Danielle wrote:

    me again.

    yeah i'm not so keen on the video.
    It's also weird that the album disappeared so it could be re released. ahh my memories of trekking down to HMV on the day it came out in April. I'm in two minds as to whether the album will appeal to all of the fans of this song though.

    The song is meaning more and more to me, and I cant wait to see her at Bush Hall in September. woo hoo!

    love it still. and the acoustic version from the Live Lounge is beautiful. I am still very sad that they did not put the ballad version of Be Mine on the album as I think you can fall in love with her as an artist on the back of that song, in fact, maybe I did.

    roll on bush hall gig!

  15. At 03:31 PM on 28 Aug 2007, chantelle longley wrote:

    I absoulty love this song could anyone tell me wich website to get the ringtone on my phone


  16. At 06:45 PM on 08 Sep 2007, roxy wrote:

    heard this is san antonio, in eden and its played in all the lil clubs in the west end.... good times!! makes me and my m8 go OHHH YEHHHHH WAT A TUNEEEEEE. u sure can rave 2 this.

  17. At 06:44 PM on 23 Sep 2007, Linda wrote:

    I'd never heard of her or any of her stuff before now; when I first heard this song I thought that it was Kate Bush!

  18. At 06:52 PM on 23 Sep 2007, Linda wrote:

    I'd never heard of her or any of her stuff before now; when I first heard this song I thought that it was Kate Bush!

  19. At 11:49 PM on 28 Sep 2007, Robert Carnegie wrote:

    Sounding like Kate Bush is good, I think! Partly it's the structure of the song, like some of Kate's ("Cloudbusting") that are free verse over music... she certainly sounds like Kate too. Ironically I last heard Kate Bush herself sounding like Elvis Presley, although that evidently was intentional, and wonderful. But couldn't make out a word. Thanooerrywuch.

    KT Tunstall or someone close to her can go "Whoo-hoo" just like Annie Lennox, and again I'm thinking "Surely not..." But then again there's sampling, so maybe...

  20. At 01:59 PM on 21 Jan 2008, dan, southport wrote:

    its well good

This post is closed to new comments.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.