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Foreword:

Welcome to the final SputStaff Top 10 of 2022! For this installment, our staff decided to dive into Bjork’s extensive discography and select her ten best songs. We felt it was a good time to reflect given the recent release of Fossorra — so if you’re new to Bjork, this might be the perfect place to catch up! Below are five honorable mentions who narrowly missed the cut, followed by the official list itself. Don’t miss out on the Spotify playlist near the end of this article either, where you can jam our selections all in one easy-to-access place. So without further ado, please continue below and enjoy!


Honorable Mentions:

15. I’ve Seen It All

14. Possibly Maybe

13. Arisen My Senses

12. Aurora

11. Hidden Place


Sputnik Staff Top 10 Bjork Songs:

(10) “Crystalline”

from Biophilia (2011)

Everyone likes “Crystalline”! It’s the sole track outside of Bjork’s classic era represented on this list, which I think is less a suggestion that it stands on its own terms as one of her Greats, but that its coyly repetitive chimes, its soulful alternation between the oblique and the intimate, and its stirring vocal melodies sum up a bunch of her most uncontroversially appealing qualities in one package. It’s not purely well-behaved though: its drum and bass finale, infamously untelegraphed, is perhaps a foreshadowing of the tendencies that would lead to her collaborations with Arca, but there’s something quintessentially Bjork in the charm of the action, a playful touch in the way she sets up something intricate and innocent only to smash it to pieces. A solid cypher of Bjork’s tricks and tropes, and a worthy start to her top 10. –JohnnyoftheWell

(9) “Alarm Call”

from Homogenic (1997)

Björk, maven of all things whispery and eccentric, often scans as incompatible, on some level or another, with crass, carnal accessibility—but what if she wasn’t? What if karaoke-bait melodies and funky techno beats had been prisms through which to illuminate her cosmic ascent, rather than obstacles to surpass in the process? “Alarm Call” is a deep cut that listens like a top 40 smash, a jolt of compact and confident club pop bestowed with one of the most infectious refrains of Björk’s entire career (doesn’t SCARE me atallllllll). Hell, the whole song is pretty much one big tangle of triple-platinum hooks, all ducking and weaving, coiling back and striking in hypnotic, impossible tandem. Any one layer here could easily sustain a minute or two of a dj set, but hearing them all twisted into knots so casually makes for a deafening mic drop on the main pop Björk that could have been. –Kompys2000

(8) “It’s Not Up To You”

from Vespertine (2001)

Do you find yourself repeatedly attempting to master the perfect day with six glasses of water and seven phone calls? Clinicians recommend “It’s Not Up To You”, a concentrated dose of glittery wonder at the magic of everyday uncertainty! Vespertine, endlessly enamored with minutiae, finds itself here ensnared by its own perfectionistic detail, the verse melody anxiously clawing at the gossamer instrumentations as they tighten around it. It’s a strikingly dark, tense trek up until the chorus bursts through the cobwebs and unfulrs the whole thing into some of the most luxuriant sonic finery this side of Y2K. That tonal flip gives the song a clarity of purpose that makes it an easy sell as a standalone Statement, but the sheer production flex of it is what really powers the song through the choral outro, all the way to the utterly dread-inducing REAL outro placing the icy hand of dysfunction back upon our narrator’s neck! The Serenity Prayer as arthouse psychodrama; thrilling stuff all-around. –Kompys2000

(7) “All is Full of Love”

from Homogenic (1997)

I do not remember the first time I heard ‘All is Full of Love’. Perhaps it was the first time I listened to Homogenic in full? Or did I jam Greatest Hits before that? Point in case: ‘All is Full of Love’ is timeless as all hell (hell seems pretty timeless). Regardless of version, time, area, zone, production, year, girth or vibes, it’s a mesmerising track that can transport you (to a place where you do not remember the first time you heard it as opposed to a ‘Hunter’ or a ‘Pagan Poetry’ and to be honest it’s a very nice place!). ‘All is Full of Love’ feels like it exists in a vacuum within the Bjork vacuum: entirely breathless yet somehow entirely and explicitly soothing. It’s a closer and an opener at once, and I do not remember the first time I heard it. –JesperL

(6) “Venus as a Boy”

from Debut (1993)

As a fan of The Sugarcubes, Bjork’s debut didn’t throw me off as much as it probably did new listeners. It was as off-the-wall, quirky, and eccentric as anything she had done with her previous band but that doesn’t mean there weren’t surprises. “Venus as a Boy” was the first track on the album to really present a new side of Bjork. It had a musical theater vibe with the lush keys, a chill ambient atmosphere with the soft rhythmic beat and found sounds, and a childlike feel tied together by Bjork’s unique vocal delivery. “Venus as a Boy” was a sumptuous track that still stands as one of her best. –Willie

(5) “Joga”

from Homogenic (1997)

 A strong contender for the first-timer’s ideal Bjork song along with “Venus As A Boy”, “Joga” finds her at her most effusive, its gushing vocals and swooping strings practically a calling card for her early style. For a while, it was thought to be as good as it got – when I first joined Sputnik, this would easily have topped any userbase poll for favourite Bjork songs. Back then, Bjork was one of two artists in the vague orbit of pop afforded the faintest shred of credibility by the site’s halitotic metal-dominated demographic (the other being, of course, Kate Bush); we can poke all the fun we like at yesterSput’s trenchant unsophistication, evidenced by a consensus that favoured Homogenic over Vespertine as Bjork’s masterpiece, but I think the favour “Joga [best song eva m/m/m/]” in particular enjoyed around that time has aged rather sweetly. Who wouldn’t open their heart to that much open-heartedness? –JohnnyoftheWell

(4) “Unravel”

from Homogenic (1997)

Nothing is more certain in life than death. We are all gonna die, one way or the other, and many of us won’t even be able to choose how. Look on the bright side though, there’s one thing that you may be able to choose on your own, if you prepare things accordingly. I’ve instructed my family to blast “Unravel” as loud as they can and postpone my funeral until a proper day of gloom, rain, and dark skies. I need to know those close to me feel the sharp cut of Björk’s ode to timeless love the way I felt it everytime I heard this song in my lifetime. The mirrored voices, the bellowing saxophone and the distant sound of mountains clashing against the wind… I want them to feel all of it while I ride on their last thoughts about me, and I want the song to remind them that, whatever devil keeps me away from their side, I’ll be back somehow, shapeless and dim, and then “we’ll have to make new love”. –Dewinged

(3) “Unison”

from Vespertine (2001)

For what purpose, a slow build? For what purpose, patience? LOVE is the purpose and LOVE is the way, dangit, and “Unison” is primarily concerned with navigating the intricacies of the ‘why’ there. Relationships are the polar opposite of instant gratification, they exist on macro timelines and consist of a thousand discrete moments where a thread of connection is established or affirmed; good luck finding any shortcuts there. The road to “let’s unite tonight” is a necessarily long one, and it ain’t even the final destination because there is no final destination. There’s just the journey and the person you’re making it with, and the instants where everything slides into focus and all you feel is joy. No small thing to give all that to someone in under seven minutes. –Kompys2000

(2) “Pagan Poetry”

from Vespertine (2001)

Well here it is, the defining song from Bjork’s best album with the fucked up music video and the dope-as-hell use of music boxes. It’s hard to separate “Pagan Poetry” from its wild music video full of distorted clips of Bjork’s personal sex tapes and actors receiving extreme body piercings. It fits the intensity of Vespertine so well blurring the line between sexual and disturbing. “Pagan Poetry” is the crux of the album with the “I love him” refrain feeling like the climax (pun fucking intended). This track is just so goddamn intimate like it’s a direct portal into Bjork’s twisted mind. “Pagan Poetry” may not be as popular as “Hyperballad,” but it is artsier and darkly hypnotic. The bass booms so hard and Bjork has never had more passion in her voice. “Pagan Poetry” is the type of song that could convert A24 Zoomers who think of Bjork as “that lady from The Northman.” BTW, if you haven’t thrown Vespertine on during sex I don’t know what you’re doing with your life. –Trebor.

(1) “Hyperballad”

from Post (1995)

…so what is the best Bjork song? PSYCH! she doesn’t have one (in a definitive sense at least), but “Hyperballad” is 101% the best answer to that question in approximately eight cases out of ten (great work gang, we smashed this one). Reasons? UH:

1) it’s a perfect earworm that catches everything wonderful about the fertile ol’ intersection between ’90s techno and atmospherically minded pop;

2) it sums up the constructive arm of the reasons why it has – and should(!) – never been strictly compulsory to view Bjork in the stone-cold light of sobriety (pour one out for Fossora). True to the surely deliberately ungainly neologism of its title, “Hyperballad”‘s straddling of serene vocal highs with pounding beats and – could it be? – trance hooks is adamantly goofy, as are its lyrics (a wryly emotive ode to, erm, throwing forks off a cliff? Yes!). This is not the ART POP of chinstrokers who make claims about aesthetic frontiers and formal malleability and zeitgeist imprints and irreversible changes. If these people adopt an earnest deadpan about Bjork trancin’ out over her flyaway forks, you can – and should(!) – call them out as humourless idiots. “Hyperballad” is slick, but not quite enough to not be silly;

3) & yet & yet & yet, it also works in a way that feels utterly steeped in Bjork’s idiosyncrasies, font of a thousand awful essays though they be. She’s too effusive, too charming, too emotive in that opera-of-dolphins vocal style for her levity to be flim or her ‘silliness’ to be shrugged at. Her best work is intuitive and subtly intelligent (all the more intelligent for its subtlety) and disarming less for its prevailing bizarreness than for the natural flair it instills to artistic equations any other artist would write off as wonky. This is “Hyperballad”: a load of unlikely elements held together by an intricate matrix of wilfulnesses that we’ll expediently call 「personality」. This is what makes the song and everything worth listening to that Bjork has ever made, and it is why “Hyperballad” should be your loud ‘n’ proud favourite free of anxiety that your novelty-scoffing post-experimenalism sham-friends will mock you as one who embraces Bjork in the sickly guise of arthouse-disaster-gremlin, exception-that-proves-the-rule(-which-is-that-poptimism-ism-bad-)mouth-breather, shrill-gimmick-bunny or bad-fetish-kid. Arise, oddball lover of consensus funtimes – you have chosen well.

Til next we meet; this blurb cannot continue because it is too long, and also because the song has ended on my iPod only for “The Modern Things” to come on to exemplify everything I’ve just written twice as much (questions are being raised). I dunno. How to make the world a better place? Keep listening to good Bjork songs/albums? Stop writing terrible appraisals of them!!! Godspeed. –JohnnyoftheWell


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Sowing
10.31.22
Last SputStaff Top 10 of 2022! Hope you enjoy.

pizzamachine
10.31.22
1 is 1. Perfection.

Willie
10.31.22
Nice work guys! I thought I was a big Bjork fan until I had to come up with five songs I like... it was at that point I realized I needed to re-listen to everything. I'll check out these songs, to start.

Icebloom
10.31.22
I always enjoy these top 10s, nice writeups everyone

Sinternet
10.31.22
7 is 1 but 1 is also an excellent choice gj

tectactoe
10.31.22
4 is 1, 3 is 2, but Bjork is queen so gg everyone.

JohnnyoftheWell
10.31.22
fuck me i am never writing on cremant again

gj everyone else, top 4 is a pretty fire selection and big props to Kompys in particular for making Alarm Call sound like an above average pop song. YES

Cimnele
10.31.22
i always like different bjork tunes than everyone else, where the hell is cvalda giggle
good work staff

Trebor.
10.31.22
This is the dumbest thing I've ever written

alamo
10.31.22
I love him, I love him I love him, I love him I love him, I love him I love him, I love him, I (She loves him, she loves him) This time (She loves him, she loves him) I'm gonna keep it to myself (She loves him, she loves him) (She loves him, she loves him) This time (She loves him, she loves him) I'm gonna keep me all to myself (She loves him, she loves him) (She loves him, she loves him) (She loves him, she loves him) But he makes me want to hand myself over (She loves him, she loves him) (She loves him, she loves him) (She loves him, she loves him) (She loves him, she loves him) But he makes me want to hand myself over (She loves him, she loves him) (She loves him, she loves him) (She loves him, she loves him) (She loves him, she loves him)

Kompys2000
11.01.22
+1 relevant sugarcubes name-drop
+1 Jesper trapped in a metavacuum (!!!)
+4 cool björk music vids I hadn't seen before and probably wouldn't have if not for this feature
+3 incisive and observant and indulgent paras on Hyperballad I do not love this song but u are HyperVALID if u do ÙwÚ
-1 no robsona musings babe plz come home the kids miss u

the numbers don't lie folks it's one of our best yet

minceMinx
11.01.22
I have about half of this in my personal Björk Top 10, but I can't fault this list. Well done.

MiloRuggles
11.01.22
Beautiful writeups fam, Dewi I want YOU to make new love TO ME
I read the Pagan Poetry blurb while listening to Coil's Circles of Mania and now I'm in the shower cleaning the gaps between my toes

BlushfulHippocrene
11.01.22
I don't know Bjork that well, so can't judge the picks. Goddamn, some of this writing though!

mkmusic1995
11.01.22
I mean, this hits it pretty well. I might have included "Black Lake" in the top 10 just because of the power behind that one. Other than that, I can live with this :D

XyphDryne
11.02.22
Interesting list. Alarm Call surprised me (and the missing of Bachelorette). But that´s why such lists are so interesting. 1 is a very cool choice. I listened the shit out of the song back then.

Honorable mentions:
Mutual core
Black lake
Her mother´s house
One day

shibole
11.04.22
Unravel has to be my number 1.

Other honourable mentions:
All Neon Like
The Dull Flame of Desire
Black Lake



Demon of the Fall
11.04.22
Nice read, unsurpisingly tilted towards her ealier work. Mildly surprised by #1 but also maybe not, hmm.

Unravel is mine too ^

and yeah, All Neon Like / Black Lake would have been welcome also

neekafat
11.05.22
Human Behavior >>>>>

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