Friday, November 21, 2014

Sugarcubes -- "Hit" (1992)

This wasn't supposed to happen
I was happy by myself
Accidentally you seduced me
I'm in love again

(If I only had a dollar for every woman who has said those words to me, you'd best believe I'd be living high on the hog on Easy Street instead of driving a 2008 Honda Accord with 64,000 miles on it.)

Happy November 21, boys and girls!

You're probably wondering what's the big deal about November 21.

For one thing, on that date in 164 B.C., Judas Maccabeus restored the Temple in Jerusalem, an event that is commemorated every year by the festival of Hannukah.  

On November 21, 1783, two crazy French daredevils made the first untethered hot-air balloon flight.  

Exactly 94 years after that, Thomas Edison announced that he had invented the phonograph.  

Sticking with music-related November 21 events, this date in 1959 was when famed DJ Alan Freed – the man who invented the term "rock and roll" – was fired from WABC-AM in New York City because he refused to certify in writing that he had never accepted payola to play particular records on his radio show.

November 21 is the birthdate of a long list of remarkable individuals, including the French author and philosopher Voltaire, the infamous Western hired gun Tom Horn, surrealist painter René Magritte, Hall of Fame baseball players Stan Musial and Ken Griffey, Jr., Hall of Fame basketballer Earl "The Pearl" Monroe, That Girl star Marlo Thomas, comedy writer-director (Caddyshack, National Lampoon's Vacation, Groundhog Day) Harold Ramis, comedienne and actress Goldie Hawn, and "Call Me Maybe" chanteuse Carly Rae Jepsen.

Today 2 or 3 lines is featuring a song by another notable person born on November 21 – Icelandic singer-songwriter-producer Björk Guõmundsdóttir, who fortunately goes by plain old "Björk." 

Baby Björk
Björk was born in Reykjavík, Iceland in 1965.  Her mother was a political activist and her father was a union leader.  When they got divorced, she and her mother moved to a hippie commune.  

When Björk was six, she enrolled at a Reykjavík music school where she studied classical piano and flute.   After she sang Tina Charles's 1976 hit, "I Love to Love" at a school recital, her teachers sent a recording of her singing to Iceland's only radio station.  (I wonder what Icelanders back then did with all the other pushbuttons on their car radios?)

After hearing that recording, a record company offered Björk a recording contract.  Her self-titled debut, Björk, was recorded and released in Iceland in December 1977, when she was barely twelve years old.

During her teens, Björk formed an all-girl punk band called Spit and Snot.  In 1980, she formed a jazz fusion group called Exodus.  In 1982, when she was 16, Björk and bassist Jakob Magnússon formed yet another group, Tappi Tíkarrass, which means "Cork the Bitch's Ass" in Icelandic. 

(If you're wondering where Björk's mother was during all this, you're not alone. ) 

A couple of years later, while Björk was touring with a Goth band called Kukl, she published a hand-colored book of poems to make money so she could pay her rent.  She also got knocked up by the group's guitarist, whom she married in 1986, when she was 20 years old.

She and her husband then formed the arts collective Smekkleysa ("Bad Taste" in Icelandic).  They revamped their band and changed the name to the Sugarcubes, whose first single was released on Björk's 21st birthday.

In the meantime, Björk and her husband got divorced, although they remained in the band together.  (His new girlfriend became the Sugarcubes' keyboard player.)  

The group's first album sold a million copies, and they appeared on Saturday Night Live in 1988.  Björk eventually left the Sugarcubes after the band's third album, Stick Around for Joy, was released in 1992.

After I got my first CD player twenty-odd years ago, I promptly joined one of those "buy-one-get-twelve-free" CD clubs.  I chose Stick Around for Joy as one of my free albums on the strength of today's featured song, "Hit," which made it to #1 on the Billboard "Modern Rock Tracks" chart (now the "Alternative Tracks" chart) and got considerable radio play.

I still have that CD, which I don't think I ever listened to all the way through.    

In 1996, Björk was the intended victim of a truly bizarre plot.  From Wikipedia:

On 12 September 1996, obsessed fan Ricardo Lopéz mailed an acid-spraying letter bomb to Björk's London home and then killed himself, but the package was intercepted by the Metropolitan Police.  López filmed himself in the process of making the acid bomb which was intended to severely scar the singer's face and torso. The nearly 18 hours of videotape described López's obsession with Björk, the construction of the device, his thoughts on love and other subjects, including racial remarks against Björk's then-boyfriend Goldie.  The video footage continues after his mailing the bomb to Björk's London home and ends as López shaves his head, applies face paint, and commits suicide by shooting himself on camera.

Björk has released seven solo albums since leaving the Sugarcubes.  I have four of those albums on my iTunes, and I don't think I've played a single song from any of them.  

Björk is much beloved by critics, and she's sold more than 20 million albums as a solo artist.  But I just don't get it.

I don't have a problem with weird.  But Björk is a little weird even for me.

Here's "Hit":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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