The Backstory of Björk’s New Single, ‘Oral’ Featuring Rosalía

Björk, the Icelandic singer known for her distinctive and experimental sound, recently collaborated with Rosalía on a song, titled ‘Oral.’ This forgotten track has now been brought back to life, thanks to a fortuitous turn of events and a cause close to Björk’s heart.

The Backstory

Björk’s journey with ‘Oral’ dates back to the late ’90s, when she was in the creative whirlwind between her albums ‘Homogenic’ (1997) and ‘Vespertine’ (2001). The song had a unique poppy quality that set it apart from her other work, making it hard to fit into any specific album. Despite its distinctiveness, Björk never forgot about it. However, ‘Oral’ existed as an analogue tape, making it elusive, with the singer even forgetting its name.

Image Courtesy: Louder than War

The Song’s Rediscovery

Fast forward to March 2023, and ‘Oral’ finally resurfaced, thanks to an unexpected trigger. Björk was touring in Australia, and during a casual moment of watching the news on CNN, a word on a chyron caught her attention, “Oral or not oral?” This quirky phrase struck a chord with Björk, and she realised that this was the title of her long-lost song. She immediately contacted her manager, who rummaged through the analogue multi-tracks and, three days later, emailed the song to her.

The Song’s Meaning

‘Oral’ is not about fish farming; it’s about the intricate nuances of human relationships. Björk describes it as a reflection of that moment when you’ve met someone, and you’re uncertain whether the connection is friendship or something more. It’s a playful exploration of feelings and desires, as Björk puts it, “That’s maybe why I called the song ‘Oral.’ You don’t know what the consequences are if you act. Sometimes fantasy can be amazing, and that’s enough; you don’t have to also do things.” Despite the light-hearted approach, the song embodies a sense of arousal and self-awareness.

Image Courtesy: Rolling Stone

The Activism Connection

In Iceland, the state of open-sea fish farming has been a growing concern. These farms, operated by Norwegian companies, were causing significant environmental damage to Iceland’s pristine fjords, endangering its unique marine ecosystem. The mutated Norwegian salmon, along with their excessive use of pesticides and antibiotics, were wreaking havoc on the local biodiversity.

Björk’s commitment to the natural world and her sense of urgency aligned perfectly with the ‘Oral’ project. The song’s proceeds would support a legal case against the fisheries. Residents of the town of Seyðisfjörður, on the eastern side of Iceland, brought forth this case. Björk firmly believes that they can win this battle and set an example for other fjords in Iceland and beyond.

Image Courtesy: Björktour

Björk’s Environmental Advocacy

Björk’s activism is deeply rooted in her connection to the natural world. She believes in thinking globally and acting locally. Throughout her career, she has consistently used her platform to address various environmental issues, from geothermal energy to public lands. Her approach is not about party politics but about personal politics, making a tangible difference where she can.

The Fight for Iceland’s Fjords

The discovery of factory farming in Iceland’s fjords, a shock to the nation, propelled Björk to take action. The unregulated fish farming industry had dire consequences on the fjords’ biodiversity. Mutant salmon, with their parasitic problems, were harming the natural salmon population and other marine life. Björk’s sense of responsibility and love for her homeland drove her to take up the cause.

-Britney Jones