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Kings of Leon Strip Out the Synths, Keep the Passion in Robyn’s ‘Dancing on My Own’

Kings of Leon, Robyn, "Dancing On My Own," cover, video, 'Girls,' BBC

Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own” is, on its most literal level, a song about looking on while someone’s love interest goes home from the dance with somebody else. Forgive the obviousness, but it can also clearly be a song about a gifted, wildly entertaining pop singer who keeps doing her own forward-thinking thang, while millions of record buyers instead cop tracks by various Miss Whatsernames. It’s no coincidence the “dancing on my own” image keeps popping up in songs by left-of-center pop singers, most recently in Jessie Ware’s 2012 electro-R&B gem “110%.”

It’s a strangely perfect song for Kings of Leon, who on one hand are famous for big-room pop-rock power ballads just about this emotionally welcoming, but who at the same time have a deeply conflicted relationship with mainstream success. When BBC Radio 1’s Zane Lowe wasn’t airing interview snippets from Arcade Fire’s Win Butler on the show’s latest episode, he hosted a live session from the Followill brothers and co., where they gave a disarmingly effective cover of the 2010 Body Talk highlight.

Just as Paramore’s 2009 BBC cover of KoL’s “Use Somebody” helped bring out the smart songwriting beneath the gruff radio-overplay victim, so the Mechanical Bull riders recast this synth-pop heartbreaker as earnest heartland rock. Robyn, who has played Saturday Night Live and enjoyed a boost from HBO’s Girls but still remains stubbornly overlooked, could use the extra shine. It flatters the Tennessee band, too.