Twenty years ago today, Björk made her Debut, which landed at #29 on our list of the Best Albums of the 1990s in 2011. While American critics, perhaps still beating off to the U.S.’s exalted alt-rock movement, were divided on the album at the time of its release, it’s aged remarkably well. And even if Björk hadn’t gone on to record her masterpieces Post and Homogenic, Debut was enough to cement her legacy as one of pop’s most forward-thinking performers. And that includes her contributions to the music video form.
10. “Human Behaviour” (Dir: Michel Gondry). Björk’s very first music video as a solo artist was also the start of a fruitful professional relationship with innovative director Michel Gondry, who would go on to helm a total of eight videos for the singer. “Human Behaviour” isn’t their most successful collaboration, but it literally set the stage for both their careers.
9. “Mutual Core” (Dir: Andrew Thomas Huang). Eric Henderson calls this video “little tectonic plate of horrors.” The lyrics to “Mutual Core” sometimes feel like Björk is reading from a science textbook (“As fast as your fingernail grows/The Atlantic Ridge drifts”), but the video, a sort of sequel to the Gondry-directed 1997 clip for “Jóga,” brings the song to explosive life, with Björk, naturally, in the role of neglected Mother Nature.
8. “Isobel” (Dir: Gondry). While making suggestions for this list, Ed Gonzalez referred to the surreal, visually striking “Isobel,” Björk’s third video with Gondry, as “Jean Epstein-ian kabuki horror.”
7. “Triumph of a Heart” (Dir: Spike Jonze). To quote Gonzalez again, this time from our list of the Best Music Videos of the Aughts: “Letting off steam has never felt so touchingly conveyed as it does in this quirky and unexpectedly poetic rumination on the nature of affection and dependency.”
6. “Pagan Poetry” (Dir: Nick Knight). Long before Lady Gaga donned Alexander McQueen and hired Nick Knight to direct her “Born This Way” music video, Björk was stirring up controversy with “Pagan Poetry,” which was banned by MTV in 2001. About a woman preparing herself for marriage, the clip features scenes of oral sex reportedly shot privately by the singer herself and a topless Björk literally sewing herself into her gown.