Out of the ashes of the artsy Icelandic band Sugarcubes rose the phoenix that was Björk. Having fronted the six-piece from 1986 until the band dissolved in 1992. Going out on her own, Björk found more success by moving to London and diving into the dance music world.
Teaming up with club music producer like Nellee Hooper who had worked with Massive Attack and Soul II Soul, Björk issued her Debut in 1993. Her first hit, “Human Behaviour,” was fashioned on top of a sample by guitar legend Antonio Carlos Jobim. Despite a lack of radio play, the track gained international attention with a Michel Gondry-directed video that was a huge hit on MTV.
Of course, Debut wasn't actually Björk's debut. She had previously released a very popular solo album in Iceland when she was 11. After that, she dabbled in various styles with various bands until settling into the Sugarcubes.
Debut spawned two more successful singles in "Venus as a Boy" and "Big Time Sensuality." When all was said and done, Debut sold more than a million copies and was named Album of the Year by NME. The BRIT Awards, in 1994, also anointed her Best International Female and Best International Newcomer.
More collaborations followed, with artists like Tricky, David Arnold, Plaid, Madonna, and Underworld. Björk followed Debut with Post in 1995 and continued to make both waves and inroads. Once again, Hooper was on board, along with Tricky, Howie B, and 808 States Graham Massey.
The first cut, "Army of Me," dropped in the spring and started building momentum in both the U.S. and UK. Post followed in June, earning solid reviews and decent chart placements.
It went platinum in the U.S. and brought along another BRIT Award for Best International Female Artist thanks to popular tracks like "Isobel," "It's Oh So Quiet," and "Hyperballad." Spin put Post at number 26 on their100 Greatest Albums, 1985–2005, and Rolling Stone ranked it number 373 of their 500 Greatest Records of All Time.
At the end of 1996, Björk issued Telegram in the UK with a U.S. release coming in January of 1997. The collection of Post remixes bought the artist some time to work on her next album, the highly experimental Homogenic which emerged later in 1997.
Produced with the help of Howie B, LFO's Mark Bell, and Eumir Deodato, Homogenic spun off a slew of remixes that filled the next few years. Radiohead's Thom Yorke was so taken with “Unravel,” he called it “one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard." Other cuts included “Bachelorette,” “All Is Full of Love,” and "Jóga." Homogenic continued Björk's platinum streak.
Taking a break from her own works, Björk acted in and scored the Dancer in the Dark film, for which she was named Best Actress at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival. The soundtrack, dubbed Selmasongs, found Björk working once again with Mark Bell. The album was released in late 2000 along with Dancer in the Dark's U.S. premiere.
A year later, Björk was back with Vespertine, which yielded the singles "Hidden Place," "Pagan Poetry," and "Cocoon." The latter two songs' videos were considered fairly controversial and, therefore, received little exposure on MTV or its offshoots.
In 2002, a Greatest Hits collection and the Family Tree box set came out in tandem, with Live Box following in 2003, as another bridge to get her fans through until her next studio album.
To create the all-voice Medúlla in 2004, Björk recruited singers from an array of genres to help fill out the sound. From beatbox artists like Rahzel and Dokaka to rocker Mike Patton and throat singer Taqag, the music on Medúlla is almost entirely comprised of voices with some accents created by electronic programming.
That same year, Björk performed “Oceania” with Shlomo and a London choir at the Cpening Ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. In 2005, she contributed to the soundtrack for Drawing Restraint 9, a Matthew Barney film.
For 2007, Björk's Volta marked her circling back to a more extroverted, playful musical expression. Contributors included Mark Bell, hip hop impresario Timbaland, poet Sjón, kora master Toumani Diabaté, and an all-female Icelandic brass section. The supporting tour was just as extravagant, as documented in Voltaic, a 2009 live set.
Not being able to maintain a steady course, Björk steered back into the obscure for 2011's Biophilia. Along with Gondry, Björk envisioned the project as an interactive adventure qua IMAX film that sat at the intersection of art and science. In the end, Biophilia came to live as a slew of apps for the iPad and iPhone in addition to the CD.