One of the ways How I Met Your Mother distinguished itself from its peers was by providing more backstory to its characters than the average sitcom. The funniest and most compelling bit of backstory is easily Robin Scherbatsky‘s past as a Canadian pop star, Robin Sparkles. From the hilarious reveal to her evolution into 90s grunge riot grrrrrl, Robin Daggers, this ridiculous bit of world building always managed to hit the mark. Robin’s father raised her to enjoy more stereotypically masculine pursuits, so it makes sense that Robin would overcorrect a bit when given free reign to embrace her inner girliness (obviously heightened to zany sitcom levels). Robin Sparkles popped up multiple times during How I Met Your Mother‘s run, so let’s take a look at her greatest hits.
“Let’s Go To The Mall”
Robin Sparkles made her debut in the season 2 episode, “Slap Bet.” When she is deeply averse to going to the mall with the gang, they assume the worst, like a secret marriage or a career in porn (oh, sitcom logic). However, the fact that Robin was a Canadian pop star with one minor hit is even better. The thing that makes “Let’s Go To The Mall” and the rest of her musical catalog is the fact that it parodies 80s pop music videos, like Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now”, so perfectly. Apparently 80s style music and fashion didn’t make it to Canada until the 90s.
“Sandcastles In The Sand”
In the season 3 episode, “Sandcastles in the Sand”, the audience was introduced to Robin’s second single, which was unfortunately a less successful venture for the young pop star. Luckily, this second video was just as hilarious as the first, this time taking on the 80s power ballad, like Debbi Gibson’s “Only In My Dreams.” The fact that the video included ’90s stars like Alan Thicke and James Van Der Beek drove home how absurdly behind Canada was with its pop culture. The fact that this song was as much of a failure as “Let’s Go To The Mall” was a hit solidified Robin Sparkle’s status as a “one hit wonder.”
“Two Beavers Are Better Than One”
Audiences discovered in the season 6 episode, “Glitter”, that after her pop career, Robin Sparkles transitioned into television, starring in Space Teens with her best friend, Jessica Glitter. The parody focus shifted from 80s pop music to 80s children’s programs, with the show specifically name-checking You Can’t Do That On Television with Alanis Morrisette. While this Robin Sparkles outing wasn’t quite as sharp as the previous two, the weirdly sexual lyrics managed to raise the awkwardness levels to eleven.
“P.S. I Love You”
In season 8’s “P.S. I Love You”, viewers found out that when Canada finally got on board with the 90s grunge phase, the evolution of Robin Sparkles continued, from bubbly pop star to the “edgier” Robin Daggers. The video featured tons of great callbacks to 90s grunge classics, including Fiona Apple’s “Criminal” and Alanis Morrisette’s “You Oughta Know”. Born out of Robin’s obsession with Paul Schaffer (yes, that Paul Schaffer), “P.S. I Love You” perfectly mirrored the outsized emotion and angst that characterized the 90s. Any song that name-checks Reality Bites is bound to be overdramatic.