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"You shouldn't let poets lie to you."
Björk, on her television
Björk is what happens when you dress a cat in Alexander McQueen and teach it how to use a laptop for music purposes. OK, not really. But kinda. She is wonderful.
Björk Guðmundsdóttir (born 21 November 1965) is a woman from Iceland who's famous for several things: her voice, her weird (but awesome) music, her strange outfits, her unique music videos, her acting in the Tear Jerker Dancer in The Dark, her cool accent, and her habit of beating up paparazzi. From 1986 to 1992, she was in the alternative rock band called The Sugarcubes, who were the first Icelandic musical act to ever gain any sort of success outside of Iceland (mostly in the UK and American alternative radio), mostly from the endorsement of beloved Radio 1 DJ/indie tastemaker John Peel. After they broke up, Björk went on to have a more successful, arguably better solo career.
Her music cannot be shoehorned into one category. She's not just an electronic artist; she has dabbled in many genres, including a capella, jazz, pop, Alternative Rock, classical/orchestral, folk, and avant-garde.
This report by Ethan Hein shows how unique she is. "Björk seems to be one of the only high-profile white musicians who understands that rock and roll is over. There's almost no guitar in any of her work. There's a sample of distorted electric guitar on "Human Behavior," nylon-string guitar on "So Broken," pedal steel on live versions of "Possibly Maybe" - I think that's about it. Her stringed instrument accompaniment of choice is the harp." That's just one of the things that makes her one-of-a-kind.
Studio albums and soundtracks Björk has released:
- Björk (1977)
- This was recorded when she was 12 and only released in Iceland. It's been out of print for decades and obscenely rare.
- Gling-Gló (1990, with Guðmundur Ingólfsson's trio)
- Debut (1993)
- Post (1995)
- Telegram (1996)
- Homogenic (1997)
- Selmasongs (2000, the soundtrack to Dancer in The Dark)
- Vespertine (2001)
- Medúlla (2004)
- Drawing Restraint 9 (2005, the soundtrack to the movie of the same name)
- Volta (2007)
- Biophilia (2011)
Her work provides examples of:
- Animated Music Video - "I Miss You"
- Base on Wheels - The music video for "Army of Me" features a tractor trailer so large that the wheels themselves are taller than most people.
- Beam Me Up, Scotty - Björk never said "I am a grateful grapefruit!". The real quote is above.
- Bi the Way:
"I think everyone's bisexual to some degree or another; it's just a question of whether or not you choose to recognize it and embrace it. Personally, I think choosing between men and women is like choosing between cake and ice cream. You'd be daft not to try both when there are so many different flavours."
- It seems that Björk prefers men, though.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: If she's the Only Sane Member...
- Black Sheep Hit - "It's Oh So Quiet", a jazz/big band song from an electronic/alternative artist.
- Breakup Breakout - Honestly, has anyone else from The Sugarcubes achieved as much success as Björk?
- Blatant Lies - Debut isn't actually her debut...
- Canon Dis Continuity/Old Shame - She doesn't acknowledge her 1977 album. Not to mention that she named her 1993 album, Debut!
- Catch Phrase - "Alt sem hann sér" (and variations thereof), which means "everything he sees" in Icelandic.
- Careful with That Axe - "It's Oh So Quiet", and some versions of "Army Of Me".
- Concept Video/Notable Music Videos/Surreal Music Video - Virtually all of her music videos fall under this trope. When she's not a lesbian robot, she's turning an audience into plants, leaving her cat husband to go out partying and then coming back hung over, secreting red thread out of her nipples, travelling on a buffalo in a river with a backpack demon, dressing up as a pinecone and then being attacked by blob thingies, blowing up a museum, or squirting mucus out of her nose and eating it.
- Creator Backlash - Her most popular and most successful song is the aforementioned "It's Oh So Quiet". Björk got angry that her most popular song is a cover, and now she rarely performs it.
- Creator Breakdown - "So Broken" was written after an incident in which an insane stalker tried to send her a mail bomb, documenting the whole process on tape before recording his own suicide.
- Deranged Animation - "I Miss You", again.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?/Crowning Moment of Awesome: While in China for a tour, she performed "Declare Independence," and screamed, "Tibet! Tibet!" multiple times... Naturally, she's not welcome back into the country.
- Dream Team - Björk tends to collaborate with really awesome musicians.
- Dye Hard - Her natural hair color is dark brown, not black.
- Fading Into the Next Song: "Frosti" → "Aurora", on Vespertine.
- Genre Roulette - Debut and Post jump between Dance-pop, Trip-hop, Jazz and other stuff. She's the only primarily electronic artist who's most famous song is a big-band cover.
- Hidden Depths - She has dived into Icelandic politics.
- Bono finds her intellect scary. This is a man that can intimidate world leaders with his extensive knowledge of facts and figures, and Björk puts him in awe.
- Hot Mom
- Instrumentals - "Frosti" and "Batabid."
- It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Her name is supposed to rhyme with "jerk" when the umlaut is taken into account.
- Little Boy Blue Note: Her first album was released when she was twelve.
- Long Title - "Who Is It (Carry My Joy on the Left, Carry My Pain on the Right)." Also, the remix compilation The Best Mixes from the Album Debut For All the People Who Don't Buy White Labels.
- Lyrical Dissonance - "Hyperballad" is about the singer imagining herself jumping off a cliff.
- Mama Bear - The reason why Björk attacked a reporter in 1996 was because she (the reporter) stuck a mic in her (Björk) son's face and started asking him embarassing questions. Lesson of the story: don't get near Björk's children.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl - That's certainly her favourite stage persona, anyway.
- Madness Mantra - I love him, I love him, I love him, I love him...and later on: She loves him, she loves him, She loves him, she loves him
- Mood Dissonance - Virus, which with a distinctly stalkerish vibe details a parasitic relationship just about to kill the host, to the sounds of cutesy plinks and twinkles...
- Music Box Intervals - "Frosti" - actually much of Vespertine.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly - Vespertine effectively marries classical music with IDM/Glitch and Medúlla is essentially a capella electronica. It's most notable track is "Triumph of a Heart", an a capella dance song. And it is awesome.
- New Sound Album - Björk started out as a unique dance-pop artist. Her albums after Debut...well...
- Post explored new sounds, like the Industrial-ish "Army of Me" and "Enjoy", the big band/jazz "It's Oh So Quiet", and the tribal "Isobel".
- Homogenic is a fusion of strings, crunchy electronic beats, and misc. things (accordion, glass harmonica etc.)
- Vespertine brought back the strings. Also featured are the harp, a choir, music boxes, and chilly electronic sounds that make a wintry album.
- Medúlla is virtually all a capella. It mixes a capella versions of familiar genres (pop, electronica), voice techniques (a choir, throat singing, beatboxing...), and Björk's ever-present avant-garde style.
- Volta features brass sounds and loud percussive beats. It may be her most aggressive album overall (it certainly is her most in the '00s).
- Biophilia is her becoming more abstract and minimal with her lyrics and focusing on certain musical elements and using more electronics opposed to natural instruments. Recorded on a iPad.
- Non-Appearing Title - "Jóga", "Pluto", "Heirloom", "You've Been Flirting Again", "Hyperballad", "Pneumonia", "Domestica", and "Cosmogony".
- Older Than They Look - It took her decades to stop looking like a teenager, and she still looks pretty youthful for someone in her 40s.
- One-Woman Song - "Isobel"
- Only Sane Family Member: If what she says is true, her family is even weirder than her.
- Precision F-Strike - Despite not being a fucking buddhist, she can recognize enlightenment.
- Serial Escalation: Björk's gonna top everything she has done with a series of concerts that'll promote Biophilia.
"These performances are a meditation on the relationship between music, nature and technology and will feature live music as well as multimedia elements including installations, performance art and apps for mobile devices. Special instruments [have been conceived and constructed specifically for these concerts, including custom-built digitally controlled pipe organs, a gamelan-celeste hybrid and a] 30-foot pendulum that harnesses the planet's gravitational pull to create musical patterns."
- Signature Song - "It's Oh So Quiet", "Hyperballad", "Army of Me", and "All Is Full of Love".
- Singing Simlish - She sometimes sings in a mixture of Icelandic and gibberish or just plain Simlish.
- The Something Song - "The Anchor Song" and "The Comet Song".
- Strange Girl
- Textless Album Cover - Most of her albums fall under this trope.
- Weird Icelandic Thing - Hell, she's probably the first thing that comes to mind when Iceland is mentioned...
- What Do You Mean It Wasn't Made on Drugs??
- Word Salad Lyrics - "Pagan Poetry".
- X Meets Y - Björk meets the creator of The Ren and Stimpy Show? Duuuuude...
- You Got Murder: Averted. An acid mailbomb sent by a mad stalker was intercepted by the post. The tape detailing it, however...