Thursday, June 16, 2011
Backup Dancers From Hell: Robyn - “Call Your Girlfriend”
Okay, this entire video is one long, interpretive dance that Robyn does in a big-ass vacant warehouse. Sadly, what she’s doing has little to do with the lyrics of the song, so I’ll have to help you out with the real story behind the footwork…
We start out with the camera coming up behind Robyn as she’s standing there in a very shaggy half-shirt (think “woolly mammoth is missing a patch of skin”), with she and her hair looking away from us. She starts singing the song as the camera slowly rolls around to face her, with Robyn initially refusing to look at us and just staring at the ground. (Is she mad at us? Did we forget to empty the dishwasher again?)
Robyn does allow us a quick glance, so we feel a little bit better, but then she completely ignores us again as the beat picks up with the song. She’s been inspired to perform this little strut-walk across the floor, possibly showing us how her people moved to this part of the world centuries ago. Along the way, she does some head-and-shoulder moves that make her look like a chicken, so maybe her ancestors raised poultry.
Robyn suddenly reverses direction and starts slide-stepping backwards, perhaps a statement about the political upheavals in her country, then she twirls a bit with her arms flung out and then makes some retching motions. (She doesn’t care for The Sound of Music? Those chirpy, singing kids CAN be a bit much.) Then Robyn is walking backwards again and punching her firsts, and I’m going to guess that she’s moved on to West Side Story and is recreating ballet dancers in a street rumble.
Robyn pauses, holds her head momentarily to stop the horrifying images of movies where people burst into song for no apparent reason, then she runs to the middle of the giant room, and apparently steps on a special sensor that causes the lights to dim and hippy graffiti images to start flashing around on the walls. (Hey, I want a button like that!) Robyn commences with the twirling again, this time accented with head dips and arm movements that make her woolly-mammoth shirt rise and lower teasingly.
The camera pulls back so that we can fully enjoy looking at her psychedelic, skin-tight leggings and nifty, pink platform tennis shoes. Robyn performs some robotic but rhythmic dance moves, probably telling the sad tale of what happens when caffeine-consumption is not carefully monitored by specialists. The camera pulls back in just as the pretty lights go bye-bye and we get a close-up of Robyn wailing an important part of the song. (She arches her back a few times to confirm the emotional drama of the lyrics.)
Okay, now we’re getting to the really deep part of the story. Robyn suddenly pulls off a backwards somersault thing, a move which may or may not have gone off as intended, because she basically ends up slamming her crotch into the ground. Then she shoves her fanny in the air with startling exuberance, lowers it back down, and begins rolling around on the floor. (In a previous life, she must have been a really bad acrobat who had to turn to prostitution to save the family farm. Or something like that.)
Robyn rolls out of the rolling and into a sitting position, one that inspires her to briefly caress her breasts and stare seductively at the camera. (Maybe she was just making sure all her accessories were still in order after the strenuous gymnastics and fanny-waving.) Robyn gets back on her feet, checks the accessories again, briefly exposes a bit of her bra, and does a very short ballet sequence about the effects of eating peanut butter at an inappropriate time.
Next up is Robyn breaking into an energetic, arm-waving dance routine, cheer-leading for an athletic team that we can’t see. (She’s really good at this, so I hope the team won.) The lights dim again except for some low spotlights way behind her, making it look like an 18-wheeler took a wrong turn somewhere and is about to run her down. Robyn doesn’t care about the potential danger, because she has some special moves for just such a situation. Any decent performer knows how to line-dance their way to safety, and she does just that.
Now Robyn is moving in a perky manner that involves bending over to the beat, a shout-out to the migrant workers of the world who tirelessly harvest the fields so we can have snacky trays while watching music videos. Then Robyn reenacts dance sequences from Saturday Night Fever, only this time nobody gets pregnant in the back seat of a car. (From what we can see, anyway.)
The camera zooms in so we can watch Robyn sing and emote in close-up, then she starts having a reaction to something or other (was there shellfish on the food services cart?), vibrating and jumping, so the camera politely pulls back so she can have her medical issue in semi-privacy. Oh wait, she was just jazzing herself up for the next bit, where she launches into a strenuous dance while strobe-lights spin.
In this segment, she is explaining that cruelty to animals is really, really bad, coal miners deserve better working conditions, gangstas need luv, too, even if they don’t dress like it, shaggy clothing is the new black, war is not the answer, and if you just run up enough steps in Philadelphia you can win any title. It’s some really intense choreography.
The lights come back up as Robyn shows us that hopscotch is really good cardio, especially if you are wearing shoes that are bigger than your head. Robyn slows down a bit and actually messes up her own hair, which is the sign of a true artist and not just some over-hyped rapper chick that has learned how to say the same four words over and over.
Robyn then drops to the floor, putting her ear to the ground. (Is she listening for approaching enemies on horses?) Whatever she hears, it makes her really sad, her face all scrunched-up and tragic as she scrambles back to her feet. But then she recovers, suddenly punching at the camera and ready to take on whatever the world has to offer, even if it means having to do an interview with Ryan Seacrest.
We wind things down with Robyn doing a super-extended twirl (one that would have made Maria von Trapp AND RuPaul really proud) without showing signs of dizziness and ending the spin right on the final beat. Then she grins at the camera and wanders out of range, probably headed for a protest rally about saving the Tibetan Twinkle-Toed Treefrog…
Coolest thing? She did this all in one take. Hay, Gurl, hay.
Click Here to Watch the Video on YouTube.