While not many musicians can live up to Björk when it comes to her unique banality-defying ways, it would nevertheless take a strong argument to convince people that one of the Promethean forces of rock ‘n’ roll as we know it, were a boring act. Alas, Björk wouldn’t be Björk if she didn’t venture bravely where others haven’t even thought of treading, and her comments on the Fab Four are no different to her uncompromising artistry.
The Icelandic musician may well have covered the legendary Liverpudlian rockers with her self-titled debut, but that was released when she was only eleven years old; an age whereby most of us still think art is defined as particularly detailed graffiti in the back of a textbook, let alone having a settled and nuanced creative identity. Thus, her later disparaging comments hardly represent a U-turn.
This uber early cover of ‘Fool on the Hill’ proved difficult for audiences to handle. As her former Falkinn Records head, Ásmundur Jóhansson, recalled: “There were concerns from people within the company who thought it was too sophisticated…to be a children’s record, and I think, in many ways, that was correct.”
Adding: “Björk’s record was a bit difficult for the general public to deal with because it was not a children’s record, and it was not an adult record. Or maybe it was an adult record but fronted by a very young singer.”
While the ‘tears of a clown’ tale might understandably prove unsuitable for a child, it is important to stress, however, that by no means is Björk’s dismissal of The Beatles a result of this failed cover; her artistry is simply from an entirely different cultural sphere to the British ways of espousing profundity. As she said herself: “English rock ‘n’ roll, or whatever you call it, they just think they’re so great and they think they’re the best.”
Adding: “But they don’t realise they’re just completely boring and there’s more to pop music than The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and guitars and bass and drums. People from England and America and I guess Australia as well need to learn that. They can’t take it for granted that the whole world is playing rock ‘n’ roll. It’s just not that simple.”
This is far from a flippant impassioned rant either; Björk has always been a firm supporter of World Music outside of the Western mainstream (although, in fairness, it could be argued that all global pop music has the same singular start point with Pythagoras). When it comes to her favourite singers, for instance, she travelled to Portugal to champion the fadista singer and actress Amalia Rodrigues. And then on to Pakistan to celebrate Abida Parveen’s cacophonous mix that proves to be so far up Björk’s street that they could share a postcode. Before proving her truly eclectic taste also stretches into some mainstream classics with Joni Mitchell and Chaka Khan completing her top four.
In short, her comments yet again prove her own Tinder profile-like comment when she said: “I am one of the most idiosyncratic people around.” However, she has also exclaimed: “I love being a very personal singer-songwriter, but I also like being a scientist and explorer,” and there’s perhaps more of a Beatles ethos in that statement than she’d care to admit.