Björk is an international pop, avant garde, electronic, singer-songwriter star who hails from Reykjavík, Iceland. She was born on the 21st of November, 1965, and released her first album entitled "Björk" which consisted of only covers in 1977 at the early age of 11. Her first real success came in 1984 after her punk band KUKL released their debut album "The Eye". Although, the band did not see hardly any success outside of Iceland, they had a good bit of domestic success.
In 1988 Björk was thrown into international stardom with "The Sugarcubes" debut release, "Life's Too Good". The album featured the hit single "Birthday", which hit the top of the charts in the UK.
"I first heard "Birthday" on college radio. It was just unique and exciting and it was just one of those songs you hear and have no idea what it is or where it came from. I think of her voice as not quite human" - Beck
"She had to be a really bad girl. She had to be really out to lunch to be sort of coming up with words like that. The sound is totally out of control, her voice, but it is not at all. You know, there is a sense in the voice of tiny kid who is very very childlike, but very brutal at this insane sort of innocence". - Thom Yorke in reference to "Bithday".
The Sugarcubes recorded 3 albums and called it quits. The break-up was mutual and they still remain friends today. During her time with The Sugarcubes, Björk had been writing and in 1990 wanted to take the leap into her solo career. She contacted Graham Massey with a collection of songs she had been writing since she was a child. The songs were jazz and brass influenced and had a very rootsy sound. The collaboration between Björk and Massey would take these songs and create what would be Björk's first major label release in 1993 entitled "Debut".
1."Human Behaviour" 2."Crying" 3."Venus as a Boy" 4."There's More to Life Than This" 5."Like Someone in Love" 6."Big Time Sensuality" 7."One Day" 8."Aeroplane" 9."Come to Me" 10."Violently Happy" 11."The Anchor Song"
"Debut" was released on the 5th of July, 1993 on One Little Indian in the UK and Elektra in the US. The record company projected that "Debut" would sell a total of 40,000 copies, but by the 3rd month after its release "Debut" had sold over 600,000 copies worldwide. It reached #1 in the States on the Top Heatseekers charts and reached #3 on the UK charts. "Debut" ranged in sound from house-electronic pop ("Big Time Sensuality) to string and classical influenced ("Venus as a Boy). It is clear to see that Björk took to what was going on in London at time. The club and trip-hop scene was peeking and she transformed what started as almost folk songs she had wrote and turned them into a brand new sound that had a sense of ecstasy.
"It blew me away, because I had never heard music like that before" - Elton John in reference to "Debut".
"Big Time Sensuality"
"Venus as a Boy"
1. "Army of Me" 2."Hyperballad" 3."The Modern Things" 4."It's Oh So Quiet" 5."Enjoy" 6."You've Been Flirting Again" 7."Isobel" 8."Possibly Maybe" 9."I Miss You" 10."Cover Me" 11."Headphones"
"Post", Björk's 2nd major release was released on the 13th of June, 1995. "Post" is considered by some as her most accessible album. According to Björk, each one of her albums is recorded by a different character. These characters can been seen on each one of her album covers. She has said that the girl you see on the "Debut" cover is a girl from the country who is still guarded by her innocence after she moved to the city. The character on the "Post" cover is that same girl who has embraced her life in the city. She is more aggressive and coming into her own. You hear this within the music as well. The first track on the album, "Army of Me", is a prime example of this with its heavy electronic beat and aggressive lyrics. Björk embraces her newly found electronic roots from "Debut" to a new level on her 2nd LP. This is probably most recognized in the hit dance single "Hyperballad" as well as the track "I Miss You". Björk also reaches out to others in the songwriting of "Post". Most notably, Tricky, her partner and who at the time was a member of Massive Attack. "Post" reached platinum status in the UK as well as the US.
1."Hunter" 2."Jóga" 3."Unravel" 4."Bachelorette" 5."All Neon Like" 6."5 Years" 7."Immature" 8."Alarm Call" 9."Pluto" 10."All Is Full of Love"
"Homogenic", Björk's 3rd solo LP was released in 1997. It has more of a mellow and nature filled sound. She almost completely abandons the up tempo dance music with the exception of "Pluto". The character of "Homogenic" is described by Björk as a warrior of love. Björk, said that this album was her attempt to create Icelandic Pop music and it is shown within the music itself. "Homogenic" could be described as Björk's most string influence album with most of the tracks consisting of volcanic beats under an orchestra of strings. Unlike the first two albums, "Homogenic" is also a bit darker in its content. She has said this was a blue period of her life. Sources have said this is due to her meteoric rise to fame coupled with her break-up from Tricky. She takes these events in her life as an opportunity to create something new and inventive, that Icelandic Pop she was reaching for. You can hear the love, heartbreak, and the landscape of the terrine in this album. The track "Jóga" embodies this completely with the lyrics, strings, and beat. Also, the beautiful heavy string track "Unravel" sends out the darker side of Björk with lyrics like "my heart becomes unraveled".
1."Hidden Place" 2."Cocoon" 3."It's Not Up to You" 4."Undo" 5."Pagan Poetry" 6."Frosti" (Interlude) 7."Aurora" 8."An Echo, a Stain" 9."Sun in My Mouth" 10."Heirloom" 11."Harm of Will" 12."Unison"
"Vespertine" was released in 2001 and is what can be described as Björk's most mellow or easy-listening album. She uses an array of different soundscape samples to construct the beats on this album. For example, walking on snow and scraping pebbles with feet. Björk said she made the album with the intent that you could listen and read a book at the same time. "Vespertine" has more sexual content than any of her other albums and probably expressed more loving lyrics than her other albums as well. She also used a choir from Greenland to sing the back up vocals on the album, which is used very well on the hit track "Pagan Poetry". Björk reaches out and uses her classical influences from her childhood on this album more so than others. This album has more of a soothing sound and the production shows this on tracks like "Aurora", "Cocoon", and "Sun In My Mouth".
"Pagan Poetry" (NSFW)
1."Pleasure Is All Mine" 2."Show Me Forgiveness" 3."Where Is the Line" 4."Vökuró" 5."Öll Birtan" 6."Who Is It" 7."Submarine" 8."Desired Constellation" 9."Oceania" 10."Sonnets/Unrealities XI" 11."Ancestors" 12."Mouth's Cradle" 13."Miðvikudags" 14."Triumph of a Heart"
Medulla was released in 2004 and is Björk's vocal album. Though she does use instrumentation on this album she used voices to make most of the sounds and beats on this album. This is most noticeable on the single "Who Is It", in which the beat was done by beatboxing. There are a good bit of acappella tracks on this album. It seems that this is Björk's most experimental album. The use of the human voice on this album is incredible and it is hard to believe that the voice can make such an array of sounds. She performed the track "Oceania" at the Opening Ceremony of 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. One year before the release of Medulla, her record label stated that since the release of "Debut" Björk had sold over 15 million records.
"Where Is The Line"
"Who Is It" (Bells are not on the album version)
1."Earth Intruders" 2."Wanderlust" 3."The Dull Flame of Desire" 4."Innocence" 5."I See Who You Are" 6."Vertebræ by Vertebræ" 7."Pneumonia" 8."Hope" 9."Declare Independence" 10."My Juvenile"
"Volta" was released in 2007 and on this album Björk gets back to the more up beat dance tracks. Three of the albums songs were produced by Timbaland. Tracks like "Innocence", "Earth Instruders", and "Wanderlust" project this direction the most. Björk also gets political with her lyrics for the first time with the track "Declare Independence". She got into some trouble while performing the track in China after she yelled Free Tibet. This is probably one of, if not the most upbeat albums she has released. There is also some world music influences on this ablum, most notably the latin guitar on the track "Hope".
"Biophilia" was released in 2010 and was partially recorded on an iPad. Biophilia was released as a series of Apps and was the world's first App Album. The album's content focuses on nature, space, and the origins of life. She sings about everything from DNA, viruses, the moon. Biophilia is the definition on a concept album. She does stick to the electronic sound on this album, but most of the tracks are slow in tempo. She does have some more up beat tracks like the single "Crystalline". The artwork, packaging, apps seem to be just as important as the music when it comes to this album. Björk won her first Grammy for Best Recording Packaging for this album.
Björk is known for having a very outlandish live show. She is very visual oriented in her show, but that does not over shadow the musical experience. She is able to play with a full orchestra in a classical format or make thousands of people dance with her energy she displays on stage. She uses instruments like the Tesla Coil and others that enhance the live performance beyond what you hear on the album. One of the more refreshing attributes about Björk's live show is that her vocals are better than what you hear on the album. Rolling Stone ranked her as the 60th Greatest Singers of All Time.
"Who Is It" - Live in Paris
Joga - Live at Glastonbury
Hyperballad/Pluto - Live at Olympia
Björk has been recording music since the age of a 11 and her music has stood the test of time. She is a international star that seems to keep surprising us with every album she releases. Because of this and her success in musical achievement she received the Polar Music Prize in 2010. She is one of the most experimental and successful true artists of her generation.