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A Guide to Björk in 10 Songs

on November 20, 2017, 12:00am
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Ever felt overwhelmed by an artist’s extensive back catalog? Been meaning to check out a band, but you just don’t know where to begin? In 10 Songs is here to help, offering a crash course and entry point into the daunting discographies of iconic artists of all genres. This is your first step toward fandom. Take it.

With nine explosive records (plus a 10th on its way, Utopia), two movie soundtracks, countless self-produced remixes, a collection of cinematically jarring music videos, and a wardrobe that exists beyond the realms of avant-garde, Björk is hard to ignore. She has remained a mainstay in music for over 20 years, led by unceasing experimentation that doesn’t allowed her to settle into a pop star omnipresence. Björk doesn’t make easily digestible radio candy. She crafts storybooks that explore the inner workings of her mind, her body, her relationships. Every part of a Björk album — the cover art, the videos, the production — exists within a larger narrative that she’s making the listener work to unravel. Her music exemplifies what much of pop music lacks: a real human experience.

Whether you’ve consciously listened to her music or not, you’ve heard her; traces of Björkian sound permeate the music industry (consider: Grimes, Radiohead, The Knife). But if you didn’t grow up on Björk, you’re more than likely of the “never really listened to her” camp or the “didn’t she wear that swan dress?” persuasion. Indeed, an entry-way into Björk is hard to gauge. The minute you think you understand, you don’t. To listen to Björk is to accept disillusionment; you could spend weeks with her body of work and still be discovering new gems.

Björk stretches and challenges the possibilities of music. Jazz, electronic, rock, and classical are just a few of the styles she blends to create her genre-defying sound. She embraces different perspectives with a wide collaborative reach that spans from Thom Yorke to Timbaland. Like her music, Björk is complex and ever-evolving. Changing relationships and locations inspire new sounds and ideas. Autobiographical records channel her questions about identity, sexual desire, love, and desperation. Costumed performances and otherworldly videos complement and further her multifaceted artistry. Björk is a mastermind curator, a producer, a DJ, an actress, an icon, an artist; but above all, Björk is a musician. What follows is the fruit of her genius.

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