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Sunday, December 3, 2023

The song Björk was “ashamed” to have written

Not many artists can create a unique world with music quite like Björk. Even though she has been able to channel her feelings into song in a way few artists can, one of her biggest strengths is her fearlessness whenever she sits down with a track, casually taking risks across every album she has ever made. While she continues to think outside the box up to the present with Fossora, she was never proud of writing one of her biggest songs.

When she first found her voice outside of The Sugarcubes, Björk was already on her way to making forward-thinking music that no one had ever heard of. Across her album Debut, every single song seems to have its own sonic identity, from the softness of ‘Venus as a Boy’ to hearing what she was like on the live stage with her version of ‘There’s More To Life Than This’.

Instead of finding her unique lane, Björk wanted to push herself even further on the album Post, featuring some of her most celebrated work. Although the track ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ reflected her chops as a jazz vocalist, the rest of the album has a dense approach to production that feels more in line with what electronic artists were doing at the time.

By the cover’s look alone, this is a more vibrant take on Björk’s music, with a firm emphasis on the digital side of her sound. While a track like ‘Army of Me’ may have had an industrial-sized beat behind it, it never stops sounding like Björk for a minute, weaving her melody between the beats to create a circling sensation around the listener whenever they hear the song.

While the record’s opener had to do with Björk’s brother failing to get off his ass and make something of himself, the rest of the project provides a softer touch, including the dramatic epics of ‘Hyperballad’ or her interesting sonic detour with Tricky on ‘Enjoy’. Despite the fireworks show going on melodically, Björk thought that one of her most softspoken ballads wasn’t right for her to make.

Midway through the record, ‘Possibly Maybe’ feels like a sonic balm from the first few tracks, only for Björk to put her audience through the emotional ringer in the lyrics. Although she may flirt with the idea of finding a companion, she knows that any time spent together may be fleeting, only providing a subtle glimpse at what the future might hold.

Considering the subject, though, Björk would want to wash her hands off the track later, saying, “The first unhappy song I wrote was ‘Possibly Maybe’. That was very hard for me. Usually, I write all the time, but that was like nothing happened for months. Then the song came out. I was ashamed writing a song that was not giving hope.”

Even though the message was far from positive, Björk would continue making different emotional powerhouses throughout the rest of her career, either making mind-expanding sonic worlds on Homogenic or dreaming about the bliss she feels after finding love on Vespertine. Then again, if Björk hadn’t laid the groundwork for sadness in her music, we may have never gotten to hear what her heartbreak sounded like after her separation from Matthew Barney on Vulnicura.

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