Throughout the 885 Greatest Songs By Women (As Chosen By You!) countdown, we’ll take you on deeper dives into select songs that pop up each day.
Beginning her career at the ripe age of 11, the lauded Icelandic singer Björk was always destined to be a star. Björk is one of the most mysterious and creative artists of our time. Her eccentric fashion choices, vocal style, and unique production have solidified her as singular and authentic. Much of her music stands on the line between technology and nature, and she has long been an activist, working to help preserve the Earth. In between all of her activism, she has received many accolades, including being nominated for countless Grammy Awards, winning two NME awards, and even earning an honorary doctorate from the Iceland University of the Arts.
Björk’s 1995 hit “Hyperballad” is an innovative, electronic body of work that was featured on her album, Post. In the song, she describes herself throwing items off a cliff — which may seem morbid and strange, but in true Björk fashion, she uses this situation as symbolism to make something beautiful. Although upbeat, the track reflects on serious subject matter. It represents her being vulnerable, giving up aspects of her personality to make her lover happy. There is a sense of relief on this cliff, where in this moment she can be her true self, without input from her partner. In a 2007 interview reflecting on the song, she said “To fall in love and be in a relationship for a long time is like giving a lot of parts of you away because the relationship becomes more important than you as individuals.”
A futuristic music video was released to compliment the track, featuring a digitized version of Bjork being thrown off a cliff. She howls in her signature vocal style between bright synth noises and quick, crashing drums. The song is sonically complex, containing much electronic ear candy, and it even includes string samples from Brazilian musician Eumir Deodato.
Björk’s creative impact is incomparable to many others, and her originality can’t be replaced. She intertwines a plethora of genres, including pop, dance, electronic, classical, and rock. This is due to her experience in her youth, participating in many alternative bands, and being inspired by many new wave bands such as Joy Division. She is also well-traveled, which adds to her broad musical palette. She lived in London in the early 90s and was exposed to the emerging trip-hop scene, which had a heavy influence on Post. Most of her music has a strong electronic flair to it, and she has played a very important part in bringing electronic music to a mainstream audience.
Björk will always be revered as an example of a true artist. Everything she touches has unprecedented elements, and she knows how to transform her influences into a completely unexpected outcome. She has never been afraid to experiment and transcend boundaries, which has proved to be inspiring to many modern artists, including Frank Ocean, Xiu Xiu, and Bon Iver. Björk has provided a space for people to feel safe being strange, and her work will forever live on in the sound of our most unique artists.