Tuesday, April 19, 2011

30 Songs, 30 Days, Day Five (2009 Edition): Hope by Bjork

Ahhhhhh....another woman I once had a crush on.

But with good reason...if you were into alternative music when The Sugarcubes hit back in 1988, you couldn't help but be fascinated by this little pint-sized brunette with the babydoll face and the strangely acrobatic voice. Now, I've always said the Sugarcubes were Iceland's answer to The B-52's, only Iceland didn't understand the question--something I became even more convinced of when I saw The 'cubes for the first of several times live and watched co-lead singer Einar flailing about like an epileptic in an attempt to be like Fred Schnieder--but it was obvious right from the start that Bjork was destined for something more...

Which brings us to this song from her most recent solo albun, Volta. I don't know what it is about women singer songwriters I crush on and cyclones--she begins this song by repeating the couplet 'This is my version of it/internal whirlwind', while my beloved Neko Case not only named her most recent album Middle Cyclone, but released as a second single "This Tornado Loves You"--but this number hides a really nasty question in its the shimmery chimes and stripped down melody. Namely, by presenting us with a suicide bomber pretending to be pregnant, Bjork asks us which would be worst...if she kills her intended target or dies before achieving her purpose. Which, she is forcing us to ask, is the worst betrayal of the hope this woman has? It's a kind of song I've always had a morbid attraction to, where the beauty of the music hides the brutality of the lyrics...and after you unearth that brutality, that beauty throws the message in sharper relief.

Now, granted, in the end Bjork takes this horrific scenario and ties it in with her own belief about love--namely that she will dare to drown, to fail miserably, because love is everything--which I guess gives the song an uplifting ending But what lingers in my mind is that fictitious suicide bomber, her hand on that cord that will unleash hell, her heart full of the titular emotion that her death will have meaning.

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