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.
Declare Independence (#1–10 of 3)
Björk’s been promoting her forthcoming Biophilia app/album/thing with the kind of dodgy auteur shenanigans that may not translate directly into hype (which, thanks to Twitter, is now more or less objectively quantifiable), but which do have the minimal advantage of preempting any kind of parody. Her website’s been rejiggered into a trippy, interactive mobile, her upcoming concerts will apparently feature, among other Seussian contraptions, a “30-foot pendulum that harnesses the planet’s gravitational pull to create musical patterns,” and in recent interviews she’s been throwing the word “app” around in a fashion equally suggestive of futurism and senility. Fine by me. Björk’s most esoteric album to date, 2004’s Medúlla, is also among her best, and so my policy is to indulge Mrs. Matthew Barney in all pretensions so long as the music works.
During a performance of her latest single, “Declare Independence,” at a concert in Shanghai on Sunday, Björk shouted “Tibet! Tibet!” in protest of China’s occupation of the territory. According to Reuters, the Chinese Ministry of Culture claims that the singer not only broke Chinese law but “hurt the feelings of Chinese people.” Awww. Shockingly, Björk’s official web site is now blocked in China and she probably won’t be welcome back in the country anytime soon. The video for “Declare Independence” was directed by longtime Björk cohort Michel Gondry and premiered late last year. It’s the pair’s first collaboration in 10 years and features a cameo by producer Mark Bell. We’re guessing no lead paint was used in the video and no one’s feelings were hurt during the filming: