5. “Declare Independence” (Dir: Gondry). Gondry’s videos come in two subtly distinct flavors: strictly arithmetical but nevertheless breathtaking in their mind-boggling execution, and arithmetical but inextricably bound to the human condition via narrative or allegory. “Declare Independence” falls into the latter category, Björk’s kaleidoscopic rage coloring the threads of a giant bass guitar via a megaphone while soldiers with the flags of Greenland and the Faroe Islands emblazoned on their shoulders declare their independence via rainbow-colored graffiti.
4. “All Is Full of Love” (Dir: Chris Cunningham). Henderson calls “All Is Full of Love” the “perfect pre-millennial precursor to our current gadget-assisted culture of self-love.” He confided via iChat, which I have summarily cut and pasted here: “When it was released, I thought it looked cool and stressed the importance of loving yourself. Now I think it’s a terrifying and sealed-off nightmare wherein you find out that you are the only person who will ever love you.”
3. “It’s Oh So Quiet” (Dir: Jonze). This figuratively and literally weightless lark pays homage to the spring-loaded energy of the best film musicals. Jonze admits to being influenced by Jacques Demy’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, the 1964 Cannes Palm d’Or winner starring Catherine Deneuve. Interestingly, the film also inspired Lars von Trier’s own Palm d’Or winner, Dancer in the Dark, featuring both Deneuve and Björk.
2. “Bachelorette” (Dir: Gondry). From our 100 Greatest Music Videos list: “Destiny plucks Björk from the obscurity of her forest home and her success story is exploited and re-exploited to where reality is no longer discernible from its aesthetic representation. With each staged adaptation of Björk’s bestselling book, My Story, we move further and further away from the truth of the forest nymph’s origins, so much so that it becomes someone else’s story. These reproductions turn on themselves, falling into an existential vortex that ushers in Björk’s return to nature. Björk cries, ’I’m a fountain of blood in the shape of a girl!’ Destiny rewrites itself and words disintegrate, as does the flesh.”
1. “Big Time Sensuality” (Dir: Stéphane Sednaoui). If Björk’s often high-concept videos seem hit or miss, it’s partly because her songs conjure a rich and intense imagery all their own. So it’s no surprise that, like “It’s Oh So Quiet,” the Icelandic singer’s best video is as simple as they come. The celebratory “Big Time Sensuality,” from Debut, finds Björk cavorting playfully on the back of an 18-wheeler driving through Manhattan. Her famous childlike disposition is on unbridled display here as she makes New York her own personal playground.