The Björk Rate: Complete. | Page 117 | The Popjustice Forum

The Björk Rate: Complete.

Discussion in 'Charts, rates etc' started by Animalia, Mar 7, 2016.

  1. Ray


    Judging by those last few pages "Play Dead" is going to depart very soon.
  2. YAS at my 11 sl.ying its way up to ten 10.You all better stan for it to reach top 5.It fucking deserves that.
    Ray likes this.
  3. Let's do this.

    So, which of our Top 10 managed to beat out Stonemilker by a mere half a point?


    #10 – Play Dead (9.08)

    Highest: 10 x21 (@Petty Mayonnaise, @NecessaryVoodoo, @Baby Clyde, @etienne, @Ray, @Booers, @A&E, @vikeyeol, @kermit_the_frog, @AllGagaLike, @Cool Beans, @JamesJupiter, @Zdarlight, @Adzie, @Can't Speak French, @BeingBoring, @ephemeralartery, @Andy French, @strangekin, @Push, @Remorque)
    Lowest: 4 x1 (@funkyg)

    Well, well, well. I think I can assume from the reactions that most of you weren’t expecting this? I certainly wasn’t, either! But hey, it sat around #20 for the first few weeks of voting, then a string of 10s bumped it up to tie with Stonemilker and it never fell back down. The true underdog of the competition.

    Play Dead was actually recorded after the initial release of Debut, for the 1993 Danny Cannon crime drama The Young Americans. Written with famed bassist Jah Wobble and produced with film composer David Arnold (Independence Day, Zoolander, various James Bonds), Björk’s manager at the time insisted that she re-release Debut with Play Dead added as a bonus track, claiming it to be “one of the best thing’s she’s ever done”. Heeding his advice, the song was added to international pressings of the album, resulting in over 100 people who had purchased the original version of the album complaining to the record label and demanding new copies. That’s how much people loved this song. In fact, the critical and fan response to the track was so overwhelmingly positive that the release of Big Time Sensuality was delayed to allow for a rush single release of Play Dead in its place. Although the video (which was merely shots of Björk singing the song in a bar and various scenes from the film) was criticised for its simplicity, Play Dead holds the title of Debut’s highest-charting single, peaking at #12 in the UK and #7 in Sweden.

    The song is written from the point of view of the film’s protagonist, a man struggling to balance his love life and his dark, dangerous career, describing how he acts numb to hide his emotional pain. Björk has admitted finding writing Play Dead difficult, as she was being asked to write from the perspective of someone suffering hard times, while in reality she was at her happiest at the time. She asked the film’s director to give her a list of phrases describing the how the character felt, from which she only ended up using one – “sometimes, it’s just like sinking” – and even then she changed the lyric to “sleeping” at some points in the song. In the end, Björk decided to go down the route of trying to “imagine what he would say to [his girlfriend]. Things he never actually said to her in the film but things he would have said to her.” The results were set to a huge, sweeping mid-tempo amalgamation of strings, horns and traditional pop beats that might feel somewhat out of place among the early-90s-house-meets-Bollywood vibe of the rest of the album, but clearly still stands tall as an unassuming triumph. It’s basically the Björk Bond theme that never was (which makes sense, considering the shared producer), and she pulls it off effortlessly – one of the strongest vocal performances on the album, Björk swoons and sighs her way through the verses before erupting into her classic growls and wails for the chorus and it all just works. It’s undeniable.

    And therein lies the secret to Play Dead’s unexpected success in the rate. Apart from a single 4 and a 5.5, almost every single one of us gave this at least an 8, with most going for a 9 or 10. While some might not think it at the same level as the other songs we have left, there’s very little to dislike about it. It’s an objectively fantastic song that showcases Björk’s unique voice immaculately, appealing to fans and casual listeners alike with a perfect marriage of her infectious personality and a more traditional pop sound. And so it sits proudly as a surprise, but nonetheless welcome, addition to our Top 10 Björk songs.

    “Lovelovelovelove,” Can’t Speak French begins, “it’s so grand and it sweeps you up with it in a rush of emotion.” Booers calls it “the best Bond theme that never was”, and demonstrates the song’s crossover hit potential: “this is what got me into her having dismissed her as some screeching loon before that.” I love that this chorus is what changed your mind about that though. Up Down Suite also notes the cinematic similarity. “Very Bond theme for some sort of reason. Maybe the orchestration? Ends a perfect debut album in a very nice manner.” (You gave it a 5.5 though…? Okay.) One Stop Candy Shop hops on the 007 train, too. “The strings are lovely and it's probably as close she'll ever get to a Bond theme song.” Considering recent Bond theme attempts, let’s hope so anyway! “One of the first Björk tracks I fell in love with,” AllGagaLike admits, “it's so damn good! And don't kill me, but the instrumental slightly reminds me of the Spice Girls' 2 Become 1.” I_CANNOT_USE_REAL_WORDS_PROPERLY_ I kinda hear it too now, thanks for that.

    “THE OUTRO. The strings! The grandeur! Even the fadeout!” constantino cheers, “What a stunning closer to a remarkable album.” As much as I love The Anchor Song, Play Dead is definitely a more fitting finale – A$AP Robbie agrees, too. “Just as you think the record might have petered out she hits you with this, which is amazing.” There was, quite rightly, a lot of love for the strings work in the song. “Love the initial screams and then the low voice she puts at the start of the song,” Txetxu praises, “plus, strings are always part of a winning combo.” P’NutButter tries to dig themselves out of a crude joke but I ain’t buying it. “Love the screaming and the violins, but it doesn't go as hard as I want it to? (That's not a rude comment).” Pure filth. “Whenever she incorporates strings into a song, it automatically becomes a favorite song of mine,” Zdarlight says, “this forgotten gem is no exception. Gorgeous vocal delivery, too.”

    We’ll end not with one, not with two, but with three proclamations of love. First up, Ray! “I bought a tape of Debut and it didn't have ‘Play Dead’ on it and it was so ESSENTIAL. I recorded it from the radio and copied to the spare empty space at the end of my cassette. Perfect. The drum programming in particular is one of my favourite things ever.” Push, I choose you! “YES! I love this overdramatic piece of a song. Genuinely the most commercial track she has ever put her name to, but that aspect doesn't translate to poor lyrics or predictable structuring. Play Dead is a riveting, cinematic (fittingly) companion piece to a film I have never seen, but this song kind of makes me want to check it out. Kind of.” I remain… unconvinced, personally. And last, but certainly not least, strangekin. Take it away! “YASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS..... I know Play Dead isn't the most Björk-y Björk song ever, but WHAT A SONG. The strings, the drama, the belting! The pure melodrama and (for lack of a better word) maturity of it all is a welcome bonus to Debut, which can sometimes straddle the line of being little too cutesy. Some of my favourite lyrics from B ever too. What I would do to have her bring this back live.”

  4. Good god, bye.
    LE0Night likes this.
  5. The song is wonderful, but so obviously not top ten wonderful.
    LE0Night likes this.
  6. The sound is just so driving and urgent, I still love it.
    Ray likes this.
  7. You lot are weird.
    etienne likes this.
  8. Ray


    Ha. Not me predicting the (near) future. Off to buy a lottery ticket.
  9. I tried to write commentary last night, but turns out I actually don't have much interesting to say apart from "I love this song" x 10, and one anecdote for my 11 which isn't even a great anecdote, just a weird dream I had. I'll leave it to the commentary experts (honestly, I've loved reading all your comments in each of the posts).

    And wow at "Play Dead" getting 21 x 10s. Can't wait to see how those tally up for the rest of the top 10.
    Txetxu and Animalia like this.
  10. No, I thought I gave Play Dead my 11! Wonder if that would have flung it even further in the top 10.
    Baby Clyde likes this.
  11. Totally. I love her vocal on this song and 'urgent' is a great way describe it.
  12. Sorry y'all, I fully intended on kicking out #9 today but I ended up having a surprisingly productive day catching up on uni work that should have been done weeks ago. It'll be out tomorrow for sure!

    What are people expecting?
    LE0Night likes this.
  13. "Where is the nine?" (I'll see myself out)

    Hmm, I'm gonna say Hunter or Army of Me.
  14. Human Behaviour

    Hidden Place
  15. I want the forum to be full of more posts like @Baby Clyde 's. The reason we're here is cause we're all music lovers, and I think being a "music lover" going hand-in-hand with associating the music of our lives to life-changing moments, even if they're only knowable after the fact.
  16. I've warmed up a little to the Howie version of All Is Full of Love.
  17. I love 'Play Dead' but it's definitely outstayed it's welcome by about 20 places.

    Also have to echo everybody else @Baby Clyde that was an emotional read and thank you for sharing it.
    Baby Clyde likes this.
  18. I'm THIRSTY! (even though my dear Hunter is probably gonna leave next)
  19. Okay, so maybe I wasn't too worried about skipping yesterday because doing this today adds some nice relevance...

    Because, you see, before we move forward, we must go back.

    June 7th, 1993.

    23 years ago today.


    #9 – Human Behaviour (9.24)

    Highest: 10 x24 (@Push, @A$AP Robbie, @ohnostalgia, @Can't Speak French, @NecessaryVoodoo, @Booers, @vikeyeol, @Up Down Suite, @Ray, @P'NutButter, @kermit_the_frog, @Cool Beans, @JamesJupiter, @Adzie, @NightmareBoy, @BeingBoring, @Psycho, @Kuhleezi, @Andy French, @rawkey, @Petty Mayonnaise, @strangekin, @Remorque, @Animalia)
    Lowest: 6 x1 (@enjoy)

    It’s hard to believe that today marks the 23rd anniversary of Human Behaviour’s release - 23 full years since Björk left the world of Icelandic indie rock behind her and took her first leap into the international pop scene. This song is literally only three months younger than me, goddammit, and it’s aged far more gracefully. No hyperbole – I truly believe this could be released tomorrow and it would still sound fresh as hell. It’s timeless. Not in that classic singer-songwriter way, but in the way that Human Behaviour doesn’t sound like anything else from any other time or space. It refuses to age because it never had one to begin with. Which is even more remarkable considering it’s technically one of the oldest compositions on the album; Björk wrote the original melody line as a child on one of her first digital sequencers, and held on to it for years before finally offering it to The Sugarcubes for a song called Murder For Two on their final album. She wrote the lyrics to go along with it at this point, but her bandmates essentially took one look at it and went “what the hell is this we have no idea what to do with that”, and so Human Behaviour was left to find a home on Debut. Björk and Nellee Hooper rebuilt the song from the ground up, using the Ray Brown Orchestra’s “Go Down Dying” as inspiration – Human Behaviour’s percussion intro houses a sample of this track.

    Human Behaviour’s birth is pretty symbolic of the whole situation, really – Björk wasn’t happy performing with The Sugarcubes because they weren’t making the kind of music that she truly loved, so she risked everything, moved to London and released the song that they refused as her first solo single. And boy did it pay off. Its #36 UK chart peak might seem disappointing at first glance, but considering this was the debut solo single from the lead singer of a relatively unknown Icelandic indie-rock group who managed to scrape a one-time #65 “hit” out of nowhere, Human Behaviour was a surprise success. I like to think it had something to do with this song being Björk's first claim to her Relatable Queen title; releasing a song about thinking humans are weird and not liking them all that much as your first single is a brave move, but I’m sure it’s one we can all relate to. The vast majority of the time, humans suck. Speaking to Rolling Stone, Björk said that the song “is an animal’s point of view on humans – and the animals are definitely supposed to win in the end”, while in a fan Q&A session with The Guardian she admitted that it’s a bit more personal than that: “I was referring to my childhood and probably talking about how I felt more comfortable on my own walking outside singing and stuff than hanging out with humans...” I feel ya, B. This and There’s More To Life Than This are true, unashamed introvert anthems, and I love them both dearly for that.

    And what’s more stereotypically introverted than sitting at home watching David Attenborough nature documentaries? Björk cites such masterpieces as inspiration for both the song and its music video, naturally, ‘cause she’s just the coolest. Her first of many collaborations with Michel Gondry, Björk reportedly just told him that she wanted “a bear and textures like handmade wood and leaves and earth, and I want it to seem like animation”, and left him to it. What he came back with is now probably one of Björk’s most iconic videos, and rightly so – it’s just the right flavour of surreal and quirky to catch peoples’ attention in a good way. And it did. Human Behaviour was nominated for six VMAs and a Grammy in 1994, but in a pattern that would soon emerge in her long-term career, won none. It was then nominated for a 7th VMA in 2009 in the “Best Video (That Should Have Won a Moonman” category… and lost again, to the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage”. A mess, I’m sure you’ll all agree. But hey, who needs prestigious awards when you were included on the Gilmore Girls soundtrack!? Human Behaviour was used in S2 E10 (in case anyone cares), during a scene in which “the perfect snowman” is destroyed. Tragic. In both senses of the word.

    I fucking love this song, and I’m so, so happy to see it in the Top 10. Those shuffling, jungle-esque beats; that gnarly synth break-down that comes out of nowhere; the juxtaposition of Björk’s sweet, mysterious vocals during the verses and her crazed wailing in the chorus; Human Behaviour is the full package, and a bloody incredible way to start off a solo career. I’m so glad this was chosen as the lead single over Big Time Sensuality, teebs – it’s a far more fitting, exciting introduction to Björk’s artistry that has truly stood the test of time and passed with flying colours.

    Start us off, Ray! “Talk about an incredible debut indeed. The thing about ‘Human Behaviour’ is that it is so weird it never aged. I was immediately drawn towards this odd creature that made strangest pop music I ever heard and looked 12 years old. Michel Gondry's videos for her are all top notch and this was the beginning of a pairing from heaven.” Yes! We’ve yet to see my personal favourite Michel Gondry video, but this one is a close second. One Stop Candy Shop has it all backwards, though. “It’s a classic, but it isn’t that fresh anymore. Overplayed, I guess.” Noooooo, there’s always one I guess. Tell ‘em, P’NutButter! “Still sounds fresh now, I attempt the high notes often.” Back us up, Zdarlight! “It still sounds fresh and interesting 20+ years later. If that's not a definition of a true classic, then I don't know what it is.” Yas, preach.

    Push asks the question on everyone’s mind. “Why is this so incredibly good? Possibly one of the strongest debut singles of all time. It has such an incredibly driving energy and fierceness to boot.” constantino calls it “perfect opener material; accessible yet off-kilter, not quite ~the moment~ of the album, but a moment none-the-less”, while AllGagaLike offers up a li’l anecdote: “I love how my favourite restaurant always plays this, along with Kylie's Put Yourself In My Place and Madonna's Don't Tell Me. We Welsh clearly have impeccable taste.” What kind of gay heaven!? Amazing. Meanwhile, Can’t Speak French has a confession. “This speaks to me, considering that I am a socially-impaired idiot who is constantly confused by others.” You ain’t alone there, sis! I always thought that was why we’re all here, teebs.

    “I love that there is something unstable (something human) in this,” A$AP Robbie notes, “it feels like it might fall apart, which is exciting.” Up Down Suite has fond childhood memories of the song: “I vividly remember watching the music video on TV when I was little, and being completely fascinated with everything that was going on. A great introduction to a grand discography, once this song plays – there’s no going back.” It really is a spectacular starting point for such a diverse, expansive career – it remains a stone cold classic despite it not sounding like anything else she’s ever done. strangekin’s gonna close the show this time, as our final farewell to Debut, the little album that could. “A song that I need to be in the mood for, however when I am in the mood, what a song. Such a brilliant debut single for her as an artist. The artist who would become to be known as one of the most idiosyncratic figures of pop culture turning the mirror on the listeners and saying that they're actually the strange ones.”

    Happy birthday, Human Behaviour. We love you.
    LE0Night, A&E, dodoriazarbon and 10 others like this.
  20. Ouch, that one really hurt!

    What a debut single though, seriously stellar. I (randomly) remember Natasha Bedingfield picked this on MTV Hits as one of her favourite songs.
    LE0Night and Animalia like this.
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