The song was officially released in June 2010, but it started making the rounds and breaking hearts that April. A video, choreographed by Maria “Decida” Wahlberg, followed in May. The year prior, while Decida was at her parents’ house for Easter, she found herself in her old childhood bedroom working on moves for “Dancing on My Own” while remembering her own experiences as a teenager. “There was a lot of angry energy,” she says, recalling how she channeled Rosie Perez’s dance sequence in the opening credits to Do the Right Thing. “[Perez] was like the spirit animal of the Body Talk album,” Decida says, “and you can spot that in the video.”
The video shows a serious-faced Robyn standing in a harshly lit rehearsal space and a darkened club. But there is a moment of levity that comes when Robyn turns her back to the camera and feigns intimacy with another person by wrapping her arms around herself. “That was actually my idea. Making out with yourself dance, I called it,” says Decida. Robyn still uses that move today when she does the song live, to the delight of audiences.
“Dancing on My Own” never appeared on the Hot 100 when it came out in 2010, but in the time since its release, it’s taken on a life of its own. Lena Dunham danced to it in Girls. Calum Scott’s cover snuck onto the Hot 100 in 2017. And nine years after the song’s release, it finally reached Platinum status.
Robyn’s resurgence with “Dancing on My Own” showed that the decade’s dance-pop stars could still find success after their initial high-charting days were over. Other artists, like Carly Rae Jepsen after “Call Me Maybe,” have followed this template and grown new legions of fans, proving that it’s never too late to pivot and find an audience, as long as you spark a connection and make them feel something, like a cathartic moment on the dancefloor.
“She’s the perfect artist for that kind of song,” says Berger. “She can make pop music feel very emotional.”