Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Among the hopelessly obvious comments one could make is "Björk is weird". Weirdness is such a crucial aspect of Björk's personality that if you remove it all you've got is... well, you've still got a talented singer and songwriter. But you don't have many of these single covers anyway. I'd llove to come up with a comprehensive gallery of all Björk covers, both solo and in her many teenage-years bands, both album and single, all variants too for singles released in multiple versions... the problem is that that would run well into the hundreds and make me crazy. One Little Indian, the British indie that Björk has stuck with down the years, are nothing if not masters of packaging and repackaging. Perhaps excessively so. But in any case, what I've stuck with is only the singles, and only the solo singles, and only one representative cover for each. And it's still a monument to the heroism of weirdness. Not always. But almost always.
Björk called her début Debut, but of course it came out over a decade after her proper début. She seems to have started off with 'a nice picture of me will suffice', and her first two covers are no more than that. She also went with 'let's put nice pictures of me on some of the singles and let's put my name written illegibly over various textures'. So there's the other two. Her movie tie-in single "Play Dead" is by far her most generic single cover ever. And it ain't exactly normal.
"Army of Me", the first single from Post, is probably her most iconic cover ever. The Japanese-packaging approach followed on two other singles, but really Björk could have kept using this style of cover for ever (the third one follows the next block of text). Three didn't, though, and "Isobel" has a photo of Björk nuzzling herself that ups the weirdness-ante. "Hyperballad" has a cover that really shows the way forward for Björk covers, as many after it will be influenced by it - head shot of Björk made weird with other stuff. "Possibly Maybe", then, is the last of the early 'just a picture of me' covers.
"I Miss You" is "Army of Me" part three, but then the aesthetic really takes off for the "Homogenic" singles. I can't explain any of the similar "Jóga" covers, but they're pretty. Then it's still-pictures-from-weird-sci-fi-fantasies. In each case, for the next three covers, the different versions of the CD singles all kind of work together as items in a series. So you should research them for more info... Anyway, "Bachelorette" has her in the movie "Aliens", "Hunter" has her morphing from Sinéad O'Connor in the first one to a giant polar bear in the third one (pictured is the second one). "Alarm Call" has a series of white-on-yellow contour maps of her face. This is design at its most impressive, really, and the series of Björk covers that serve as my main inspiration for doing this.
A last "Homogenic" cover has a sci-fi fantasy straight out of a Volkswagen ad. After that, the weirdness carries on. "Hidden Place" has a pretty horrible video of things coming in and out of Björk's nose and mouth - the cover illustrates that with scribbles on a picture of her. "Pagan Poetry" hpresents a naked Björk in about the least sexy way possible, with all kinds of body mutilation going on. This cover shows her naked, but in black-and-white contour lines. the red-rope-and-white-Björk video for "Cocoon" is evoked on its cover, too. "It's In Our Hands", from her Greatest Hits album, presents a series of weird quasi-cellular pencil sketches. Because why shouldn't it?
The Medúlla covers are a big step down in interest levels, though. The album has a cover featuring Björk wearing a hair mask, and the first two singles are mere variations of each other, and outtakes from that photo shoot. The ugly text of the "Triumph of a Heart" cover (over different random images, often of cats) shows the way forward, as all the Volta covers are mere variations of each other, showing Björk performaing a tribal dance while the song titles themselves are, theoretically, in front. If you can read them.
The non-album "Náttúra" single is back to beauty, though. A charity single with something to do with the Icelandic environment, it's illustrated with a picture of Iceland, presumably, looking beautiful and 1970s-ish. "The Comet Song" is brand new and is from a cartoon movie. Ergo, cartoon cover. I miss the bear-morphing Björk.