Big Time Sensuality

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"Big Time Sensuality"
BjorkBigTimeSensualityUKCD1.jpeg
Single by Björk
from the album Debut
B-side
  • "Síðasta Ég"
  • "Glóra"
  • "Come to Me"
Released 22 November 1993
Format
Recorded 1993
Genre
Length
  • 3:56 (album version)
  • 4:54 (video version)
Label One Little Indian
Writer(s)
  • Björk
  • Nellee Hooper
Producer(s)
Björk singles chronology
"Play Dead"
(1993)
"Big Time Sensuality"
(1993)
"Violently Happy"
(1994)

"Big Time Sensuality" is a song by Icelandic singer Björk, released as the fourth single from her 1993 album Debut (1993). Written by Björk and staple collaborator Nellee Hooper and produced by Hooper, "Big Time Sensuality" is a house-influenced song that helped boost Björk's popularity worldwide, particularly the U.S., where she charted for the first time.

"Big Time Sensuality" lyrics deals with her relation with her friends and Hooper. The song features house grooves and electronic bass-sounds. The single release was actually the "Fluke Minimix", which is a mix by Fluke, and the song was performed in this version on various occasions, including the inaugural MTV Europe Music Awards. Critics praised the song and the remix calling them "saucy" and commenting on their house and pop flavors.

A different edit of the Fluke remix was featured in the music video for the song, directed by Stéphane Sednaoui, in which Björk dances and sings on a truck throughout New York City. The video was praised by critics and fans and received heavy rotation on MTV channels.

The video edit of the Fluke remix was also featured in Björk's Greatest Hits.

Background[edit]

"It's not erotic or sensual even if it may sound like that. As you know, you create pretty deep, full-on love relationships with friends. A lot of it is also about myself. I can be a coward a lot of the time and there comes a moment when I write a song when I get quite brave. It's a lot about me dealing with myself rather than attacking other people. Would I like to know the future? No. There's a side to me that likes to plan a little bit ahead and there's a side that just needs to be free. I've got problems with booking airline tickets – I always change them. Sometimes I wonder if it's just for me to feel free. To kind of not be nailed in is really important to me".

-Björk interviewed by David Hemingway.[2]

After leaving The Sugarcubes, Björk traveled to London where she began having contacts with electronic music, and that inspired her to change her musical style from the pop-rock sounds of the Sugarcubes to a more alternative and electronic style of music. "Big Time Sensuality" was one of the last songs to be written for Debut, and was originally planned to be the first single from the album,[3] but it got delayed by the release of "Human Behaviour". It was then intended to be the third single, but it got delayed again by the success of "Play Dead", and was finally released as the fourth single in November 1993.

The song was co-written by Björk and Nellee Hooper and produced by Hooper, which helped her in writing and producing her first two albums. The singer's meeting with Hooper inspired her in writing the song: "I think it's quite rare, when you're obsessed with your job, as I am, when you met someone who's your other part jobwise and enables you to do what you completely want".[3] The lyrics deals with enjoying life to its fullest and, in spite of its name, it was inspired by Björk's friends. The lyrics deal also with braveness: "I’ve got a lot of courage, but I’ve also got a lot of fear. You should allow yourself to be scared. It’s one of the prime emotions. You might almost enjoy it, funny as it sounds, and find that you can get over it and deal with it. If you ignore these things, you miss so much. But when you want to enjoy something, especially when it’s something you’ve just been introduced to, you’ve got to have a lot of courage to do it. I don’t think I’m more courageous than most people. I’m an even mixture of all those prime emotions".[2]

After the release of Debut, Björk's songs received numerous remixes from different producers. "Big Time Sensuality" received three different remixes from the Fluke. One of them, called the "Fluke Minimix", was chosen by Björk to receive a single treatment instead of the original, and the remix was performed on different occasions and a music video was made of it. An extended version of the "Fluke Minimix" was used as the "single version" of the song, and is also the version used in the video. However, this version was not available until the release of Björk's Greatest Hits, as the version featured on the single was shorter.

The single also contained "Glóra" ("Gloria") and "Síðasta Ég" ("The Last Me") as B-sides, two songs that were recorded by The Elgar Sisters, a group formed in the early eighties by guitarist Guðlaugur Kristinn Óttarsson and Björk. "Glóra" is an instrumental track which features a flute-solo played by Björk, who also wrote and produced the track. "Síðasta Ég" was written by Björk, Óttarsson and Þór Eldon Jónsson, a member of the Sugarcubes, and was produced by Björk and Óttarsson, with guitar played by Óttarsson.

Composition[edit]

The first two verses of "Big Time Sensuality" are underscored by upbeat keyboards that lead into electronica and techno-influenced grooves that Sandy Masuo of Option defined as "brooding".[4] Björk belts out the first lines accompanied by a base of percussion, while the chorus features stronger electronic beats. After the first two verses, Björk sings some sounds like moans or shouts. Ben Thompson defined the yells sequence as "sinuous pop-funk squawk".[5] After the interlude "I don't know my future after this weekend/And I don't want to!" funk-like sounds lead the song to an end.

The "Fluke Minimix" is composed on a series of synthesizers and by slower vocals. The remix features electronic bass and heavily uses reverb. The track ends with the lines "It takes courage to enjoy it/The hardcore/And the gentle/Of Big Time Sensuality" whispered by Björk.

Critical reception[edit]

"Big Time Sensuality" was deemed as a highlight of Debut and was praised by critics. Sean McCarthy of the Daily Vault defined the track as "insanely addictive"[6] while Vox journalist Lucy O'Brien called it "saucy".[7] Simon Reynolds of The New York Times stated that "the sultry Big Time Sensuality has her vaulting from chesty growls to hyperventilating harmonies so piercing she sounds as if she’s inhaled helium".[8]

Reviewing Debut, Heather Phares of AllMusic, noted that "Björk's playful energy ignites the dance-pop-like "Big Time Sensuality" and turns the genre on its head with "There's More to Life Than This." Recorded live at the Milk Bar Toilets, it captures the dancefloor's sweaty, claustrophobic groove, but her impish voice gives it an almost alien feel".[9] The website cites the track as an All Media Network-pick, and in a track review, Stacia Proefrock defined the track as an "aggressive, screechy dance number" that "While not scraping the top of the charts[...] was part of an album unusual enough to stand out among its fellow pop releases as a quirky and complex experiment that worked most of the time".[10]

"Big Time Sensuality" was nominated in the Best Song category at the 1994 MTV Europe Music Awards, losing to "7 Seconds" by Youssou N'Dour and Neneh Cherry.[11]

Music video[edit]

Background and synopsis[edit]

"I had seen the Red Hot Chili Peppers video that he did, sort of black and white and silver, and I want to do a video to song called "Big Time Sensuality", and I was very aware that I want it to be quite different from "Human Behaviour", which is more sort of epic story-telling thing. "Big Time Sensuality" was more like a personal statement, it has to be very in-your-face. Then he called up, a little later, with something he taugh [sic?] he was even better, basicly [sic?] to get a truck and drive up and down manathan [sic?] as long as the light would last. I guess the idea to put someone on a truck, and kinda drive the truck, and you have to dance really intensely, and just the elements of danger at the top of that, do it in a city like New York. I think the policeman, very aggressive, asking us to try to stop to do it and we were kind [sic?] bit like, we were kinda like anarchists not stopping, the police were after us. Then, you get all those people who actually want to jump on the truck and take part like; "Are you doing a movie? Can I take part of it?" We had very big speakers and were blasting the song, everybody was kinda listening, and you know how New York people are, they're very sort of open anyway, they were clapping and dancing along, it was a bit of a performance statement. It was a great day, we had great laughs".

—Björk talks about the shooting of the music video.[12]

To shoot the music video for "Big Time Sensuality", Björk called upon Stéphane Sednaoui, who had previously directed videos for Madonna, U2, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Sednaoui heard about Björk when he went to Los Angeles for the first time and declared to be fascinated by her music.[13] Björk personally wanted the director after seeing some photos of Kurt Cobain shot by him, that Björk recalled as being the only photos in which she saw Cobain "laughing out loud and dancing".[13]

Sednaoui at first wanted to go to Iceland to shoot the music video, but the costs were too high for the budget. Björk explained the inspiration for the music video: "when you're living on the edge and it's about the courage to enjoy life".[13] The director got the idea for the music video while he was in New York and realised that "it would work amazingly with the city. With all the big buildings and everything and her voice".[13]

Björk at the back of a truck in the music video for "Big Time Sensuality".

The iconic video for "Big Time Sensuality" was shot in black and white and features Björk dancing on the back of a moving truck slowly driving through New York City in the middle of the day. Björk appears in a white dress and with her typical hairstyle. The video uses film effects like slow motion and fast motion. The version of the song used in the video is a remix by Fluke. This version is an edit of the full "Fluke Moulimix" that was longer than the edit provided for radio ("The Fluke Minimix").

The video helped Björk to be known in North America where it received heavy rotation on MTV channels, with many noting that the video was more known in the country than the song: "Few people know how the melody for "Big Time Sensuality" starts, but anyone who watched MTV in the early '90s could cheerfully belt out the single measure when she sings the words "Big Time Sensuality".[14]

There is also a rare nighttime version which was released only on the Director's Label The Work of Stephane Sednaoui DVD as well as an uncut alternative daytime version.

Usage in media[edit]

The video was later spoofed by British comedians French & Saunders, in a low budget fashion (i.e., on a greenscreen), and also plays on the name of Iceland, Björk's home country, with the store of the same name.

A short scene of the video can be seen in the movie Vanilla Sky (2001) in a vision sequence Tom Cruise has.[15]

Live performances[edit]

The song received a heavy promotion, and as such, Björk did numerous TV appearances. On 8 August 1993, she appeared on the UK show The Beat, performing the song along with "Venus as a Boy" and "Come to Me". Björk performed the song live on other British show like Dance Energy, Top of the Pops and Smash Hits Poll Winners Party. She then performed the song live on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, in one of her first appearance on the American broadcast. She performed the track on MTV's Most Wanted, where she performed also "Human Behaviour", and on The Grind. On a rare lip-synch performance, she sang the song on the Italian show Festivalbar. She also performed the song live, dressed in a big, red gown at the 1994 MTV Europe Music Awards, where she received two nominations. The song was part of her MTV Unplugged set list, where it received a different arrangement, accompanied by Indian Instruments and an harpsichord. Its performance was released on Debut Live, which was included in Live Box.[16]

"Big Time Sensuality" was a staple performance at her Debut Tour and Post Tour. Notably, its performance during the Post Tour at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire in London was released on her VHS and DVD release Live at Shepherds Bush Empire, with the same performance released on Post Live, where it was given a "much more minimal treatment"[17] accompanied by Leila Arab "gently hyperkinetic jungle beats".[17]

Accolades[edit]

The information regarding accolades attributed to "Big Time Sensuality" is adapted from Acclaimed Music, except where otherwise noted.[18]

Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Toby Creswell Australia 1001 Songs 2005 *
Panorama Norway The 30 Best Singles of the Year 1970–98 1999 23
NME United Kingdom NME Rock Years, Single of the Year 1963–99 2000 *
The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time 2014 322
Q The Ultimate Music Collection 2005 *
The Guardian 1000 Songs Everyone Must Hear 2009 *
Radio X The Top 1000 Songs of All Time 2010 *
Robert Dimery United States 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die: And 10,001 You Must Download 2010 1002
Bruce Pollock The 7500 Most Important Songs of 1944–2000 2005 *
Pitchfork Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s 2010 201
Spin The 100 Best Alternative Rock Songs of 1994 2014 69
WOXY.com Modern Rock 500 Songs of All Time 1989–2009 510
(*) designates lists that are unordered.

Track listing[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (1994) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[19] 62
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[20] 24
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[21] 17
US Billboard Hot 100[22] 88
US Dance Club Songs (Billboard)[23] 1
US Dance/Electronic Singles Sales (Billboard)[24] 17
US Hot Modern Rock Tracks (Billboard)[25] 5

Versions[edit]

  • Big Time Club Mix (Dom T.)
  • Growly Dub Mix (Dom T.)
  • Lionrock Wigout Mix (Justin Robertson)
  • Lionrock Wigout Vox (Robertson)
  • Prankster's Joyride (Robertson)
  • Def Klub Mix (David Morales)
  • Def Radio Mix (Morales)
  • Usa Mix (Morales)
  • Extended Mix (Nellee Hooper)
  • Plaid Remix (Plaid)
  • The Fluke Minimix (Fluke)
  • The Fluke Video Version (Fluke)
  • The Fluke Magimix (Fluke)
  • The Fluke Moulimix (Fluke)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The 100 Best Alternative Rock Songs of 1994: Bjork, "Big Time Sensuality"". Spin. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Big Time Sensuality". Archived from the original on July 16, 2012. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "Björk "Big time sensuality"". Archived from the original on 28 August 2011. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  4. ^ Masuo, Sandy. "The World According to Björk". Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  5. ^ Thompson, Ben (11 July 1993). "RECORDS / New Releases". The Independent. London. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  6. ^ McCarthy, Sean. "Debut Bjork". The Daily Vault. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  7. ^ O'Brien, Lucy. "Call of the Child". Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  8. ^ Reynolds, Simon. "Jazzy Love Songs Tinged With an Oceanic Feeling". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  9. ^ Phares, Heather. "Debut Bjork". Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  10. ^ Proefrock, Stacia. "Big Time Sensuality". Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  11. ^ Pride, Dominic (November 5, 1994). MTV Sets First European Awards Show. Billboard. Retrieved October 19, 2011. 
  12. ^ "the video for 'Big Time Sensuality'". Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  13. ^ a b c d "the video for 'Big Time Sensuality'". Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  14. ^ Bartlett, Thomas. "All Hail The Ice Queen". Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  15. ^ "Biography for Björk". Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  16. ^ "What live TV appearances did Björk do for Debut?". Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  17. ^ a b Begrand, Adrien. "Post Live". Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  18. ^ Acclaimed Music – Big Time Sensuality. Acclaimed Music. Retrieved on 29 February 2016.
  19. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Björk – Big Time Sensuality". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved May 28, 2016.
  20. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Björk – Big Time Sensuality" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved May 28, 2016.
  21. ^ "Björk: Artist Chart History" Official Charts Company. Retrieved May 28, 2016.
  22. ^ "Björk – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Björk. Retrieved May 28, 2016.
  23. ^ "Björk – Chart history" Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs for Björk. Retrieved May 28, 2016.
  24. ^ "Hot Singles Sales: June 11, 1994". Billboard. Retrieved May 28, 2016. (subscription required (help)). 
  25. ^ "Björk – Chart History". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved May 28, 2016. 

External links[edit]