Björk - It’s Oh So Quiet (Official 4K Music Video)

Post, it should be noted, predicted the all-over-the-place pop star albums of the mid-‘00s, like Gwen Stefani’s Love.Angel.Music.Baby, which seemed invested less in a unified sound and more in offering an iTunes Store-friendly plethora of singles.


Björk looks back on the work she did on Debut with clarity: “There were not so many lyrics like that, at that time, about the lives of women or girls, you know, just doing normal things.” In Symbolism’s second episode, regarding the mixed reviews she received for Debut in the U.S. (Rolling Stone gave it two stars and even that seemed generous for Tom Graves’ accompanying assessment; he called it “utterly disappointing.”) “The everyday life of a woman was a lesser area somehow or a lesser art form,” she says on how her solo debut was received by some. “And I think I was just used to it. I didn’t expect more, you know?”

But that had no bearing on her vision, which she said necessarily involved expanding the notion of what women could offer musically:

I think after being for 10 years in bands, and serving another vision—even though it’s the vision of the group, it’s not my vision. I didn’t want to serve the vision of any other composer or any other conductor or just to be the performer. I wanted to try as a woman. I felt that the way I could change the world most for other women and girls was to try to make an album where I would give myself the string quartet context, I would give myself techno beats, I would give myself...I would be the author. You know, and I could do it all myself.


Throughout her career, Björk has evinced a repeated interest in undoing expectations. These came from without, as in the case of the societal and artistic limitations she perceived. The stunning alien geisha figure she strikes on the cover of Homogenic, an album musically rooted in Icelandic tradition, was in response to the elfish persona the press tried to impose on her. But she also pushed back against herself, with each album responding to and moving away from the last one. She made a career of, in the words of Homogenic’s “Pluto,” exploding this body off of her. It has made for a public arc like no other in modern music, and given its serialized nature, one hell of a podcast.