Bjork, Iceland’s most powerful export since the Vikings, turns 47 today, which warrants a comprehensive celebration of her work… and a naughty sugarcube binge. I’m coasting on the sugar high of Bjork’s ebullience as we speak. Here are my picks for her five greatest moments ever.
5. Dancer in the Dark
Most remember Bjork’s Oscar nomination in songwriting not for its merit, but for the dress she chose to wear at the ceremony. (See #4.) But Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark is a one-of-a-kind viewing whether you loved or hated it, and most of the film’s perks relate directly to Bjork: her tender performance, her musicality, her bleak descent, and the phenomenal song “I’ve Seen It All,” the cornerstone of the album’s soundtrack, Selmasongs. She may have only starred in one movie, but it garnered her Cannes’ Best Actress award, so the experiment paid off.
4. The swan dress
The world wants to misunderstand Bjork, so in 2001 when she donned a swan dress created by Macedonian designer Marjan Pejoski, she validated the public’s bewilderment. I love her for it. The kooky design is both graceful and eerie, just like Ms. Gudmundsdottir herself. Now I have seen it all.
Diehards have a very special fondness for Post, Bjork’s sophomore album that defined the mid-’90s electronica craze while deepening the searching emotionality of her first solo album Debut. “Army of Me” is deadly fierce, “It’s Oh So Quiet” is a vaudevillian gem, and “Hyperballad” is a poignant, maddening ballad that simply cannot be compared to any other song. It’s layered, yet vulnerable; tough, but soft.
Some would argue that Homogenic is the greatest album of the 1990s, and I wouldn’t dare dissuade those troubadours. Each of its 10 tracks is another underworld of gorgeous strings, video game blips, sinister percussion, and deeply evocative lyrics. “Hunter” is chilling. “Alarm Call” is a burgeoning riot. “All is Full of Love” is a jewel. “Joga” and “Bachelorette” are unprecedented in emotional heft and sonic scope. There will never, ever be another Homogenic.
1. The phenomenal “Big Time Sensuality” video
Bjork has done so much for the art of music video that it’s ridiculous to pick a favorite among her works. “Human Behavior” and “Army of Me” are origami vortexes. “Violently Happy” is deranged. Hell, even “Play Dead” is spellbinding. But “Big Time Sensuality” is such a pure blast of uninhibited joy and sexual liberation that it’s not hard to believe director Stephane Sednaoui directed another fabulous video about feminine self-realization and self-ownership, Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic.” Does this video not rock your world? Let’s all hop on the back of a flatbed truck and live a little!