Our Top 10 Björk Songs introduces us to an Icelandic multi-talented songwriter and singer who has been quite a sensation throughout her over four-decade music career. Born in 1965, Björk has also been a successful record producer and actress. Growing in Reykjavik, Björk’s music career began when she was only six years of age. Her stepfather, a former guitarist in the band Pops, had Björk enroll at a music school where she learned to play the flute and classical piano. Björk would realize how gifted she was vocally after a school recital in which she sang the 1976 song “I Love to Love” by Tina Charles was sent her recording of to the RUV radio for national broadcasting by her teachers.
After listening to her great vocal capabilities, Falkinn Records offered her a recording contract. Here, she would release her eponymous debut album at the tender age of eleven. Björk was immediately signed with The Sugarcubes, where she served as the lead singer leading to her international recognition. However, after The Sugarcubes disbanded, Björk embarked on a solo career with some appearances in random bands. It is her solo career that put her on the map as one of the world’s most reputable singers and songwriters. Our top 10 Björk songs look at her most reputable releases, some of which saw her receive multiple music accolades and awards nominations.
#10 – Pagan Poetry
Opening up our top 10 Björk songs list is a song entitled “Pagan Poetry” from her 2001 album, Vespertine. The song is one of her original compositions, proving how much of a talented songwriter she was. At one time, she revealed that this song was titled “Blueprint” at its composition phase. However, with Jay-Z’s album The Blueprint released the same year, she shied away from using that title for the song. As quoted in the song, finding the blueprint illustrates the composer’s discovery of things that would satiate her physical and emotional needs. “Pagan Poetry” peaked at number 12 and 38 in Canada and UK respectively.
#9 – Venus as a Boy
“Venus as a Boy” is one of the songs from Björk’s 1993 album Debut. Björk revealed that she bumped into the song that she once wrote while recording it into her dictaphone in her living room. While she might not have revealed who the song was about, many still believe that the song was about her then-boyfriend Dom Thrupp, who dated Jenny Frost of the British pop girl band Atomic Kitten. Despite being among the final songs recorded for her 1993 album Debut, the ballad received a great reception peaking at number 29 on the UK Singles Chart.
#8 – Army of Me
Featured on her 1995 album Post, “Army of Me” was a commercial success, and Björk’s first song ever featured on the top 10 songs on the UK Singles Chart. Björk and Graham Massey would join hands in the composition and production of this song. “Army of Me” was inspired by her brother, who she confesses had taken on some self-destructive lifestyle. In the song, Björk tells her brother to rise from his mischief and regain control over his life. The song is one of the widely covered Björk’s hits by other artists. “Army of Me” became a number one hit in her homeland Iceland while peaking at number 10 on the UK Singles Chart.
#7 – Lionsong
“Lionsong” is an original composition by Björk featured on her 2015 album, Vulnicura. The song features beats by Arca, who co-produced the song with her. “Lionsong” was penned five months before Björk broke up with Matthew Barney. The song’s lyrics find Björk describing how she was stuck in the relationship’s uncertainty. “Lionsong” was based on her then need to find clarity from the uncertainty that engulfed their relationship.
#6 – Human Behaviour
Featured on her 1993 album, Debut, “Human Behavior” was Björk’s first UK Top 40 song peaking at number 36. She revealed in an interview that the song is all about the animalistic point of view on human beings. While her childhood was quite comfortable experiencing harmony with fellow kids and the nature around her town, she found that grownups were rather senseless and chaotic. The catchy vocal melody for this song was written back in 1988 when Björk was still a member of The Sugarcubes. However, failure to find a song to fit, Björk would keep it until it was ripe for use with “Human Behaviour.”
#5- All is Full of Love
“All is Full of Love” is one of the best Björk songs known for its harp, strings, and electronic beats. Featured in her 1997 album Homogenic, the song is an original composition by Björk with its lyrics inspired by love in spring and Ragnarok. The song is about how stubborn we can get when love is one-sided, as per Björk’s revelation of the song’s personal meaning in a 2000 interview. “All is Full of Love” was nominated for a Grammy Award and went ahead to win tons of awards, including the MTV Video Awards’ Best Breakthrough Video and Special Effects. The song peaked at number 24 on the UK Singles Chart.
Number 4 in our top 10 Björk list is yet another hit song from her second studio album Post by the title “Hyperballad.” The song is about her need to strike emotional stability while revitalizing life’s pleasant danger in the context of an extended relationship. “Hyperballad” is an original composition by Björk with the lyrics suggesting her discomfort with being in an excessively benign relationship. The song infuses acid house, folktronica, and synth-pop, proving Björk as one of the successful multi-genre musicians. “Hyperballad” peaked at number 8 on the UK Singles Chart.
#3 – Possibly Maybe
Featured on her 1995 album Post, “Possibly Maybe” is quite a sad song about a former relationship. The song features some deep electronic tones infused with soft beats bringing the best electronic and dance styles from Björk’s album Post. While the song might have received a positive reception, Björk revealed that she felt ashamed writing a song that gave no hope to her audience. The song peaked at number 13 on the UK Singles Chart.
#2 – Violently Happy
“Violently Happy” has been noted by many as the most distinguished song from Björk’s 1993 album Debut. The song is a collaborative effort of Björk and Nellee Hooper in its lyrics composition. Its lyrics highlight Björk’s intense feeling of love where she requests her lover to come home and calm her down. This upbeat song serves as the anthem for every person in a long-distance relationship who can’t help but miss their partners when they are away. The song peaked at number 13 on the UK Singles Chart, reaching number 4 on the US Hot Dance Music/Club Play Chart.
#1 – Big Time Sensuality
Written by Björk and Nellee Hooper, “Big Time Sensuality” is a house-influenced ballad featured on her 1993 album Debut. “Big Time Sensuality” was Björk’s first song to chart in the US, helping her boost her popularity on a global level. The song is about Björk dealing with her relationship with friends, including Hooper, her longtime collaborator. “Big Time Sensuality” became a number one track in her home country Iceland, UK Indie, and US Dance Club Songs charts. It also peaked at number 17 on the UK Singles Chart and number 88 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Feature Photo: Zach Klein from New York, New York, USA, CC BY 2.5 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5>, via Wikimedia Commons
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