By Griffith Fuller
By Griffith Fuller
There has been only one artist who can make her voice sound similar to a dying giraffe and still sound beautiful.
There is only one artist that can wear a swan around her neck to the Academy Awards and still look beautiful.
That artist is BjÃ¶rk.
The Iceland native was born Oct. 21, 1965 in Reykjavik. At the age of 5, she started studying classical music.
She was discovered after her cover of Tina Charles’ “I Love to Love” was played on local radio.
Many BjÃ¶rk fans and music critics think that “Debut” is her first album, but the singer recorded and released a self-titled album at 11 years old. “BjÃ¶rk” included cover songs of international pop songs translated in Icelandic, such as the Beatles “Fool on a Hill,” and traditional Icelandic folk songs. The album became popular within Iceland, but was never released outside of the country.
As she grew into a teenager she got involved in the punk rock movement of the late ’70s. She joined her first group, Exodus, in 1979. She singed in Jam 80 the following year, and from that band she moved on to form Tappi TÃkarrass with Exodus bassist Jakob Magnusson in 1981. After her time was over with Tappi TÃkarrass, she formed a post-punk band in 1984 with Einar Orn Benediktsson called KUKL. The band released “The Eye” in 1984 and “Holidays in Europe” in 1986 on Crass Records. The birth of the Sugarcubes was marked by the birth of BjÃ¶rk’s first son in the summer of 1986.
The Sugarcubes, BjÃ¶rk’s most successful band, released its debut album “Life’s Too Good” in 1988. Their first single from the album, “Birthday,” became an indie hit in Britain and a college radio favorite in the United States. Its sophomore album, “Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week!” was released in 1989. As the Sugarcubes’ popularity grew, so did focus and admiration on BjÃ¶rk.
In 1990, BjÃ¶rk released her second official solo album, “Gling-GlÃ³,” collaborating with Icelandic bebop group Gudmundar Ingolfssonar Trio. The album included Icelandic jazz standards and originals.
“Stick Around for Joy,” The Sugarcubes third album was released in 1992. Tension between Benediktsson and BjÃ¶rk contributed to the break-up of the band.
The musician took an interest in electronic music after singing on 808 State’s “Ooops.” She moved to London with her son in 1993, where she started working with Nellee Hooper. “Human Behavior” was born from their collaboration and was released in June 1993. “Debut,” the album perceived to be her first album, was released within that year. The title of the album is more of a pun; it’s her first album released after the Sugarcubes breakup and without being in a band. Songs such as “Venus as a Boy” and “Big Time Sensuality” became hits in the U.K. and received moderate airplay in the U.S.
Her success led to her writing the title-track to Madonna’s “Bedtime Stories.” The then 28-year-old was establishing a name for herself in the music industry. “Post” was released in 1995 and reached No. 32 in the U.S. Hits off of the album include “Isobel,” “Army of Me,” “Possibly Maybe,” and “Hyperballad.” But the biggest hit was “It’s Oh So Quiet,” the big-band old-school jazz single.
1996 proved to be a tough year for BjÃ¶rk. Her relationship with beat-maker Goldie was highly publicized, becoming food for tabloid newspapers’ hunger. Another infamous BjÃ¶rk happening that occurred in February of that year was her surprise attack on a reporter at a Bangkok airport. Reports say that the reporter had been following the singer for four days, but BjÃ¶rk stated that her motherly instincts kicked in after the reporter tried to interview her son. A mentally ill obsessed fan from Florida tried to send a letter bomb to the singer in September 1996. The crazed man committed suicide, and the delivery of the bomb was averted by police following the discovery of his body.
“Telegram,” a drastic remix album, was released in 1997, (in America). Later that same year, “Homogenic” was released. It proved to be her most experimental and electrical album. The album included the corky “Alarm Call,” and psychotic heavy-thrusting “Pluto.” Some of her most infamous music videos also came from songs off of this album. The elaborate “Bachelorette” video nodded towards the singer’s take on her popularity and stardom. She appeared completely bald in her very eccentric video for “Hunter,” in which she teasingly morphs periodically into a blue 3D bear. Her video for “All Is Full of Love” depicts two female robots, with the cloned image of BjÃ¶rk, making out in a 23rd century-style robot manufacturing facility.
Lars von Trier’s independent film, “Dancer in the Dark,” was released in 2000; BjÃ¶rk depicted its lead character, Selma. She won best actress at the Cannes film festival for her role. She stated that it would be her only role in a film, due to the difficulty making that one. She later released “Selmasongs,” her soundtrack to “Dancer in the Dark.” The album includes a rare and stunning duet with Thom Yorke of Radiohead called “I’ve Seen It All.” Guest vocals and duets on BjÃ¶rk songs are actually quite scarce.
The following year she released “Vespertine,” her most tranquil album. Like Homogenic, it spun off weird music videos such as the ones for “Hidden Place” and “Cocoon.” But her most infamous music video ever is for “Pagan Poetry,” in which the singer appears topless, displaying piercings through her nipples, on her arms, and on each side of her back.
“Medulla,” a vocal-based album, was released in 2004. She released two singles from the album, “Who Is It,” and “Oceania.” Her latest effort, released in 2005, is the soundtrack to “Drawing Restraint 9,” a film made by her boyfriend.
Numerous EPs, live albums, bootlegs, and singles disc have been released by BjÃ¶rk. Because of this, it makes it nearly impossible to own every recording that she released. Attaining her first album, recorded at 11, is extraordinarily difficult to get hold of. Supposedly bootlegs of it are floating around out there in the subterranean music world. Even the most hardcore BjÃ¶rk fans might have something missing from their collection. And this doesn’t even include DVDs. She has many concert and video DVDs that were released, including her “Greatest Hits: Volumen 1993-2003” released in 2002.
So there is much to BjÃ¶rk that was learned in this reading. But the most eccentric music artist in music history is still a great ball of mystery, even after 29 years in the music industry.