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You may search the whole world but you will find no one like singer, composer and actress from Iceland – Björk. Her talent to give new meanings and forms to music and creativity allowed her to become one of the most successful artists on the planet. It is quite rare in the music world that the artist is successful both commercially and critically; however, Björk did it without obeying to any rules except the ones she created herself.
Björk, whose full name is Björk Guðmundsdóttir, was born on November 21, 1965 in Reykjavik. Both of her parents once were political activists: the mother protested against the controversially built hydroelectric power station, and the father was the leader of the Union. After she was born her parents soon divorced because after realizing that „they are not meant for each other“ and Björk spent most of her childhood living in a small hippie community with her mom. She used to listen to all kinds of music – from jazz to punk – and it probably influenced how Björk understands and creates music.
Her career in music industry started quite early – the first album was recorded when she was twelve. Björk performed and recorded Tina Charles song “I love to love” which was played at the only radio station in Iceland at the time. This song was noticed by one of the record companies and in 1977 the first album Björk was released which was a huge success. Therefore, the record company suggested Björk to record the second album. However, she did not like the sudden popularity and declined the offer. Until the solo career Björk was engaged in various music projects. The most popular and critically acclaimed was the band called The Sugarcubes which got very popular in the UK. The band broke up in 1992 and Björk went to London to pursue her solo career.
The solo career for Björk was really successful: nine studio albums were released. The singer has won many awards for her music, and was nominated for 13 Grammy awards. The style of her music cannot be described in a single word. The distinctive characteristic of her music is the mixture of the different music genres which intertwine with her unique voice. Every album is original, peculiar and thematically different and that distinguishes Björk in the heavily commercialized music industry. Every album cover is eye-catching, smart and artistic. Homogenic which was released in 1997 is thought to be one the best experimental electronic music album ever released. Other Björk albums Vespertine (2001), Medúlla (2004), Volta (2007) were also critically acclaimed and commercially successful. Myths even exist about how Björk albums are being recorded, for example, the very famous one is that she recorded the whole album in the cave full of bats naked. In one of the interviews she said that she had recorded one song in the cave full of bats but she definitely was not naked.
Björk does not choose easy and fun topics for her songs. Her songs usually analyze complex social and psychological problems, human relationships, emotions, mystified connection between a man and the nature. The topics of science, nature and technologies are examined also in her new album Biophilia. The most popular Björk hits include It’s Oh So Quiet, Army of Me, Hyperballad, All is Full of Love, I Miss You, I’ve Seen It All,Human Behavior
In 2000 she starred in “Dancer in the Dark” directed by Lars van Trierand for leading role of Selma Björk won the Best Actress award in 2000 Cannes Film Festival and was also nominated for a Golden Globe and Oscar. At the Oscars she wore the widely discussed “swan dress”. The initial agreement between Lars and Björk was that she creates the soundtrack for the movie, however, Lars persuaded her to play the main role arguing that it would be best done by Björk. He argued that only she can play Selma and sing in the movie. Later Björk revealed that the role of Selma was the hardest thing she had ever done in her life. Her colleague Catherine Deneuve which also starred in the film spoke of Björk like this: “She doesn’t act, she feels.” There were talks that Lars and Björk are fighting a lot on the set, and when someone asked Björk about this she said: “Lars, who is a complete fanatic, wants his role figures to suffer, especially the female ones and I couldn’t really accept that.” She had also called Lars “pornographer of emotions” because he does not care if his movies make people sad.
Björk often talks about sensitive political and social issues, supports various human or animal rights organizations, also freedom movements of Kosovo and Tibet. During one of her concerts in Shanghai she started shouting “Tibet! Tibet!” and later she was heavily criticized by the Chinese authorities for this action who said that by doing so she deeply offended the Chinese society and broke the law. After this incident the Chinese government started to control who come to sing in China more.
Several times Björk attacked the paparazzi but these incidents ended without legal interventions. One of the interesting facts about Björk is that she had a stalker who sent her an acid-bomb letter and tried to kill her. He also tape recorded how he shoots himself after he had sent the letter. To everyone’s surprise Björk sent flowers to the man’s family and expressed condolences. However, this event shocked Björk a lot and she decided to leave London and continue recording in Iceland.
Björk is highly appreciated in Iceland and in 2000 the Icelandic government offered her a small island. After careful considerations Björk declined this gift concerned about her privacy. Later after the local protests the government withdrew the offer.
Lately Björk is busy promoting her new album Biophilia, which is special and innovative because it was released as a series of apps working together with Apple. Björk has described Biophilia as as “a multimedia collection “encompassing music, apps, Internet, installations, and live shows”.
Björk once revealed: “I don’t expect people to get me. That would be quite arrogant. I think there are a lot of people out there in the world that nobody gets.” We don’t have to get her; we have to listen to her.