Dancing on my own: A cover that misses the point

The Dancing On My Own cover by Calum Scott misses the point of the song by a lot.

First of all, let me just say I’m biassed.

I’m biased

I’m a big Robyn fan. Konichiwa Bitches is one of the greatest pop albums of all time. Perfectly sequenced, each track is a pop banger. Winding down at the end with Eclipse showed that she could do slow-paced numbers.

After she followed it up with BodyTalk. It was a fantastic evolution. Robyn tried a new approach when it came to releasing albums. Instead of one bloated album, she brought three shorter albums. It was a gamble, but there were some bangers on there. Bangers like You Should Know Better, Indestructible and Dancing On My Own. When she teamed up with Royksopp I kind of lost track, I haven’t been back since, but I am grateful for her work. She’s an essential member of the pop princess pantheon.

Dancing on my own

Dancing on my own is a certified pop banger.

Click here to give it a listen.

Now also:

Calum Scott covered it, click here.

His cover might just be one of the most excellent examples of missing the point.

Let me explain.

There was/is this fad. You take a pop song, and you slow it right down.

You draw out every syllable of every word. Sing it breathy and set it to piano or guitar.

It’s been done to death, it’s a cliche, and I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Sometimes slowing something down and making it more emotional can work. There are versions of songs I like, but slower does not equate to more better, and this cover proves it.

Robyn’s version

Dancing on my own, was the lead single to the first part of her Body Talk album series.

Now on the surface, it’s a song about boyfriend drama at the club. To be honest, most of Robyn’s songs can be boiled down to boyfriend drama at the club. That’s good, that’s all I want from a song. Heartbreak to a beat. Heaven to me.

The thing is there are layers to it. Now I accept that I might be reading too much into this but stay with me.

When she’s singing “I’m in the corner, watching you kiss her”, there are a few ways of reading it. Now on some level, there’s a sadness to seeing a former flame move on, it’s relatable. However, coupled with the delivery and instrumentation, there’s more than one of looking at it.

There is the surface level interpretation of “I’m sad you’ve moved on”, but there’s also:

* I’m going to dance this out

* I’m better off without you

*You don’t deserve me

* You’ve made your choice

Even the drum beat after the breakdown makes you feel like you’re pounding the emotion out of you. There is defiance and anger in the song that makes it empowering to an extent.

There’s an element of the Magic Mirror at play, i.e., you read what you want into the song. There are layers and there is nuance.

I don’t know how well I’ve stated my case but go and listen to the version for yourself.

Dancing on my own: the cover

What the cover does is take a 3D image and flatten it into 2D.

There is only one way to interpret the cover: I am sad you have moved on.

By paring it down and drawing it out, you lose much of the meaning and subtly.

When giving both versions, a relisten for this post Behind the Lyrics popped up on the cover. Even Behind the Lyrics referred to the song as “maudlin”.

dancing on my own

Couldn’t have put it better myself.

Maudlin: adjective

1:tearfully or weakly emotional; foolishly sentimental
2:foolishly or mawkishly sentimental because of drunkenness.

The character in the cover is pathetic and borderline creepy.

How come?

Well, there’s no easy way to say but because he’s a man.

Now, typically men can cover women’s songs and vice versa.

Here comes the but and it’s a big BUT: men can cover women’s songs, but men should not cover Dancing On My Own.

When it’s a girl singing about a boy, it’s cute. You know she’s going to be okay you know she’ll move on.

But when it’s a fella singing about a girl.

You know, “I’m in the corner, watching you kiss him”. What kind of vibe does that give you?

You’re right, it’s creepy, it’s stalkery. Guys don’t precisely deal well with their emotions, and we brood and dwell more than the opposite sex.

There’s something very beta as well about the whole song. You secretly want one of his friends to come along and tell him to wise up and move on.

Robyn’s version feels like it’s happening right there and then. Whereas Callum’s version feels like he’s confronting the girl in the car park after the lights have come on.


So, that’s all I wanted to say.

Calum Scott, you’re a good singer, but you picked the wrong song to cover.


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