18 September 2013

18th September - Björk's Selmasongs

Artist – Album: Björk – Selmasongs
Released:  18th September 2000
Sounds Like: My First Musical

Analbumaday… isn’t the first stupid boy project I’ve taken on over the last few years. I’ve taught myself to juggle and play harmonica (although not at the same time), hitchhiked to Morocco, and attempted to learn conversational Spanish and Italian on various occasions. I once drank (enjoyed is too strong a word) a pint of mild in 60 different pubs in the Nottingham area over the course of a month. I’ve watched/played/listened to practically every all time greatest films/television episodes/games/albums/songs list I’ve stumbled upon, and still have an insatiable appetite to watch/play/listen to more. One such list was Empire Magazine’s 500 5-star movies, which I progressed through last year in a bid to force myself to watch some classic oldies; those black and white flicks that you know are supposed to be good but somehow never get round to viewing.

One of the more surprising films registered in that countdown was Dancer in the Dark, a 2005 musical featuring Björk, about a factory worker called Selma who hides from her friends and family the fact that she is going blind. The film splits opinion – Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian said that “screen acting doesn't get much more dire than this”, whilst renowned reviewer Roger Ebert was effusive in his praise. The soundtrack to the film, by Björk, received more universal praise, averaging 76/100 on Metacritic.

Personally, I found it slightly disappointing. The film was colourful and endearing, but these qualities didn’t translate as well on the album. ‘Overture’ starts things excellently with a suitably dramatic orchestral piece, but far too many of the following songs dabble in clichéd musical conventions. ‘I’ve Seen It All’ holds immense promise as it is a duet with Thom Yorke, but even that suffers from disappointingly childish lyrics. Still, ‘107 Steps’, the piece that soundtracks Selma’s tense walk to the executioner (*SPOILER ALERT*), slightly redeems things, and the closer, ‘New World’, is emphatic and strong.

The film wasn’t bad in my book, but it’s certainly bettered by others featuring unlikely heroes that have an obsession with musicals (Wall-E for one). Similarly, the album, whilst not a failure, just doesn’t quite hit the heights of Björk’s other great works.

Albumaday... rating: 6/10

1.       Overture – 3:38
2.       Cvalda – 4:48
3.       I’ve Seen It All – 5:30
4.       Scatterheart – 6:40
5.       In the Musicals – 4:40
6.       107 Steps – 2:37
7.       New World – 4:25

Listen to ‘New World: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqnL6ie_FTw

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