Björk Guðmundsdóttir (born November 21, 1965), known simply as Björk, is an Icelandic singer-songwriter. Her eclectic musical style has achieved popular acknowledgement and popularity within many musical genres, such as rock, jazz, electronic dance music, classical and folk. Her voice has been acclaimed for its distinctive qualities.
Björk appeared for the first time in 1976 on Radio One, an Icelandic radio station, singing “I Love to Love” and achieved a deal with a record company through which she released in 1977 her first solo album entitled “Björk.”
Afterwards, she formed several bands including Tappi Tíkarrass, KUKL and The Sugarcubes, the latter being the most successful. After the Sugarcubes disbanded in 1992, Björk proceeded with her solo career and in 1993 released an album called “Debut.” Since her debut album, she has been signed to One Little Indian Records in the UK, with distribution in the US handled exclusively through Atlantic/Elektra Records.
“Post” was Björk's second solo studio album. Released in June 1995, the album was produced in conjunction with Nellee Hooper, Tricky, Graham Massey of 808 State, and electronica producer Howie B. Building on the success of her previous album “Debut,” Björk continued to pursue different sounds, taking particular interest in dance and techno. Although again Bjork received more mainstream attention for her videos than her singles, “Post” included several U.K. pop hits and was eventually certified platinum in the U.S.
In 1997, the album “Homogenic” was released. It marked a dramatic shift from her earlier “pixie” image cultivated on the “Debut” and “Post” albums. Björk worked with producers Mark Bell of LFO and Howie B on the album, as well as Eumir Deodato. “Homogenic” was her first conceptually self-contained album and is regarded as one of Björk's most experimental and extroverted works to date, with enormous beats that reflect the landscape of Iceland, most notably in the song “Jóga,” which fuses lush strings with rocky electronic crunches. The emotionally-charged album contained a string of music videos, several of which received airplay on MTV. The video for “Bachelorette” was directed by frequent collaborator Michel Gondry, while “All Is Full of Love” was directed by Chris Cunningham. The album reached gold status in the U.S. in 2001 and platinum in 2006.
In 2001, Björk released the album “Vespertine.” The album featured chamber orchestras, choirs, hushed vocals, microbeats made from household sounds, and personal, vulnerable themes. She collaborated with experimental sound manipulators Matmos, Denmark-based DJ Thomas Knak, and the experimental harpist Zeena Parkins for the album. “Vespertine” spawned three singles, “Hidden Place,” “Pagan Poetry” and “Cocoon.”
In August 2004, Björk released “Medúlla.” During production, Björk decided the album would work best as an entirely vocal-based album. However, this initial plan didn't materialize exactly that way, as the majority of the sounds on the album are indeed created by vocalists but several feature prominent basic electronic programming. Björk used the vocal skills of throat singer Tagaq, hip hop beatboxer Rahzel, Japanese beatboxer Dokaka, avant-rocker Mike Patton, Soft Machine drummer/singer Robert Wyatt, and several choirs. At the time “Medúlla” became her highest charting album in the U.S., debuting at #14.
Björk's sixth full-length studio album, “Volta,” was released in May 2007. It featured 10 tracks primarily written and produced by Björk herself, and intended as more direct and extroverted than her past few albums, but featuring a wide range of collaborators and cross-cultural musical elements. “Volta” featured input from acclaimed hip hop producer Timbaland, singer Antony Hegarty, poet Sjón, electronic beat programmer Mark Bell, kora master Toumani Diabate, pipa player Min Xiaofen, and on several songs, brass compositions by an all-female ensemble from Iceland. The first single from the album, “Earth Intruders” became her second-ever Billboard Hot 100 entry in the United States. “Volta” debuted at #9 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, becoming her first Top 10 album in the U.S.
In 2011 she released the full-length album, “Biophilia.” “Crystalline,” the first single off “Biophilia,” was composed using complex breakbeats along with only one of several specialized instruments custom built for the project, the “gameleste,” a celesta modified with elements of gamelan.
To date, Björk has been nominated for 13 Grammy Awards, one Academy Award and two Golden Globe Awards. For her performance in “Dancer in the Dark,” Björk won the Best Actress Award at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival.