“Missing U” trades heavily in the strain of triumphant melancholy — or perhaps melancholic triumph — that characterizes some of Robyn’s most beloved hits, like “Call Your Girlfriend” and “Dancing on My Own.” The new song embodies the sense of catharsis and resilience that’s become a big part of Robyn’s sonic brand, which has endeared her to a fan base — a good portion of them queer or otherwise outside the pop mainstream — that knows and cherishes the kind of visceral emotional release that can happen in the middle of a packed dance floor.
The song’s lyrics may address an unnamed absent lover, but for fans fluent in Robyn’s favorite lyrical motifs, “this empty space you left behind” translates to the two-way void that’s opened up between the singer and her fans since Body Talk catapulted her into the broader cultural consciousness. Fans have missed Robyn, yes, but in choosing “Missing U” as her first solo single in more than half a decade, and explicitly dedicating it to her fans, Robyn has made it clear that the feeling is mutual.
That idea of mutual respect between artist and fan is not unusual in pop music, where “doing it for the fans” is one of the most enduring clichés outside of doing it for Mama and/or God. But in the case of Robyn and “Missing U,” it feels not only true but also sort of profound, a statement on the enduring strength of a symbiotic relationship built on a shared recognition of the power in dancing your way through pain, pleasure, and everything in between.