With her uncompromising mix of experimental pop, electronic music, and whatever else strikes her fancy, eccentric Icelandic singer, songwriter, and producer Björk has enjoyed global success on her own terms since the mid-’90s.
• Björk Guðmundsdóttir hails from Reykjavik. She was raised in a hippie commune after her parents divorced.
• She learned piano and flute at a young age, and when she was 10, she caught the ear of a local record company by singing the Icelandic pop hit “I Love to Love” in school. This led to Björk releasing a self-titled album in 1977, when she was 11.
• After discovering punk rock, she played in the ’80s bands Tappi Tikarrass and Kukl. From 1986 to 1992, she fronted the acclaimed alternative rock group The Sugarcubes. The band released three albums and got big enough in the US to appear on Saturday Night Live.
• Björk left the group in 1992 and launched her solo career with the heavily electronic 1993 album Debut, recorded with British producer Nellee Hooper. The acclaimed LP reached No. 2 in Iceland and No. 3 in the UK. In the US, “Human Behaviour” became a Top 5 alternative hit.
• She reconnected with Hooper and a handful of other producers—including UK trip-hop hero Tricky—for 1996’s Post. Her version of “It’s Oh So Quiet,” originally recorded by Betty Hutton in 1951, went Top 5 in the UK and became an MTV staple thanks to an eye-popping music video directed by Spike Jonze.
• Björk’s 2004 album Medúlla—an Icelandic chart-topper that went Top 20 in the US—is constructed almost entirely from human voices.
• Featuring a trio of collaborations with hip-hop producer Timbaland, Björk’s 2007 album Volta became her second No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart.
• Her 2011 album Biophilia was billed as the “world’s first app album.” When experienced through the app, each song offers interactive lessons about the intersection of music and nature.
• Björk created a traveling virtual reality installation to accompany 2015’s Vulnicura, an album inspired by her split with longtime partner Matthew Barney.
• With 2017’s Utopia, Björk earned her eighth consecutive Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Album.
• By 2019, Björk had been nominated for 15 Grammys without a win. She also earned an Oscar nominated for “I’ve Seen It All,” a song from the 2000 film Dancer in the Dark, which she also starred in.
BORNNovember 21, 1965