Icelandic singer-songwriter Bjork is an eclectic artist that doesn’t fit into stereotypical molds. She’s known as a risk taker and has received plenty of accolades throughout her career, including 14 Grammy Award nominations and an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. In 2015, The Museum of Modern Art in New York honored Bjork with a retrospective of her multifaceted work and today (Nov. 21) we’re celebrating her birthday by revisiting 10 classic tracks and their music videos.
“Human Behavior” (1993)
“There’s definitely, definitely, definitely no logic.”
MTV aired Bjork’s first solo single and “buzz bin” video in 1993. The video, an animal’s point of view on humans, was nominated for six MTV Video Music Awards in 1994, and the song peaked at No. 2 on both the Alternative Songs chart and Dance Club Songs chart.
“Army Of Me” (1995)
“You’re on your own now, we won’t save you. Your rescue squad is too exhausted.”
Bjork has a toothache in the video for “Army of Me” off her second album Post, and the dentist is a gorilla (not to be confused with the bear in the “Human Behavior” video). You can read into several metaphors here. Is the bomb is a wake-up call for Bjork’s real-life brother’s damaging behavior at the time? The video was nominated for two MTV Video Music Awards and peaked at No. 21 on the Alternative Songs chart.
“You push me up to this state of emergency.”
If this song doesn’t resonate with you physically, you might not be human. The beautiful and haunting melody is an ode to Bjork’s native land and a majority of the music video presents imagery of Icelandic terrains and landscapes. The song charted overseas, but not in the U.S.
“Big Time Sensuality” (1993)
“Something important is about to happen.”
The fourth single off Bjork’s debut solo album would boost her popularity in the U.S., charting multiple times. It peaked at No. 1 on the Dance Club Songs chart, No. 5 on the Alternative Songs chart and No. 88 on the Hot 100 chart. In the accompanying video, Bjork lends her big voice to the Big Apple, touring the streets of New York on the back of a moving truck. It makes perfect sense that Beavis and Butt-head tried to wrap their heads around her.
“You’re the intruder hand, I’m the branch that you break.”
This song’s epic build and emotional undertone is another beauty, yet did not chart in the U.S. The video presents Bjork’s rise to fame after she scores a publishing deal for her autobiography, and her story is translated into a musical. But what if it never came to be?
“All is Full of Love” (1999)
“Trust your head around, it’s all around you. All is full of love, all around you.”
Directed by Chris Cunningham (Madonna’s “Frozen”), the video features Bjork as a robot and won two MTV Video Music Awards for Breakthrough Video and Best Special Effects. It was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video. The song peaked at No. 8 on the Dance Singles Sales chart.
“Hidden Place” (2001)
“There lies my love, I’ll hide it under a blanket, lull it to sleep.”
In the mesmerizing music video for the lead single off her fifth album Vespertine, Bjork once again plays with computer-generated magic, as various fluids flow in and out of her eyes, mouth and nose — at one point, a uterus flashes on screen. The song peaked at No. 50 on the Hot Singles Sales chart.
“To complete the mission, now I’m leaving it all behind.”
This single off Bjork’s fourth album, Homogenic, presents a captivating music video with a bald Bjork morphing into “techno-bear.” Another example of why she’s one-of-a-kind.
“It’s Oh So Quiet” (1995)
“So what’s the use, wow bam, of falling in love?”
There’s not a lot of quiet contained in Bjork’s cover of Betty Hutton’s 1951 song. Spike Jonze helped transform the powerful ballad into a Broadway musical-style video. The song itself is energetic and huge, filled with loud noises in between moments of shh. The video received six MTV Video Music Award nominations in 1996.
“Pagan Poetry” (2001)
“She loves him, she loves him. And he makes me want to hand myself over.”
The controversial music video (directed by Nick Knight, Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”) was banned from MTV due to nudity and blurry sexual imagery — not to mention a hint of body modification. But make no mistake, this is Bjork stripped down (no pun intended). She is raw, real and her emotions will strike a chord and send shivers down your back, along with the video’s final image.