Crystalline (song)

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Single by Björk
from the album Biophilia
  • "Cosmogony"
  • "Thunderbolt"
Released28 June 2011
LabelOne Little Indian
Björk singles chronology
"The Comet Song"
Music video
"Crystalline" on YouTube

"Crystalline" is a song by Icelandic artist Björk, released as the lead single from her eighth album Biophilia. The song was released as a single on 28 June 2011[2][3] accompanied by an iPad app developed exclusively for the song. It was afterward released as part of The Crystalline Series alongside the second single from the album, "Cosmogony".[4]


In March 2011[5] it was announced that Björk would play at the Manchester International Festival with a new concept of concert. Several songs from the album debuted during a series of performances at the festival between 27 June and 16 July 2011. Björk called the performances a "meditation on the relationship between music, nature and technology". "Special" instruments were designed and constructed specifically for these concerts.

The release of the song was preceded by three teasers: on the first one, entitled "Road to Crystalline" we can see Björk driving her Hummer through a road in Iceland while playing an excerpt of a demo version of the song; on the second one, we could see one of the new instruments developed for the Manchester performances, that also plays on the track: the 'Gameleste', a celesta which was modified by Icelandic Organ builder, Björgvin Tómasson and British Cymbalsmith and Gong maker, Matt Nolan so that it sounds like Gamelan and could be played remotely by MIDI or even an iPad;[6] and on the third teaser, recording sessions of the remix featuring Omar Souleyman were shown. The song leaked onto the internet on 25 June 2011.[7] On 28 June 2011 UK producers 16bit confirmed via Facebook that they produced the song.

"Crystalline" is a mostly electronic song, featuring a continuous 'gameleste' base and electronic beats and rhythm. After the bridge, the song features a gameleste solo, and consequently ends with a breakcore section which uses the Amen break. A review in The Guardian described the piece as a hybrid of the musical styles of her previous albums Post and Vespertine, with undercurrent percussive elements from her album Homogenic.[8]

The lyrics to "Crystalline" talk about the process of crystallization in minerals and rocks but taking a more personal point of view, relating the growth of a crystal structure with the growth of relationships in people's hearts. Björk took inspiration for the song from cities and buildings:


Music video[edit]

The music video for "Crystalline" was recorded on 26 May and was directed by long-time collaborator Michel Gondry.[9] It was premiered on 26 July 2011 on YouTube. The video opens with a view of the moon and a meteor shower on it, forming different forms and crystals. Björk stars as a spectator of the meteor rain in the sky, as some kind of god. The video features heavy computer and stop-motion animation. Gondry explained about the video:

The video received a nomination at the Antville Music Video Awards, in the Best Art Direction category.[11]


Every song on Biophilia has an app for iPhone or iPad. The main app was released on 19 July 2011, coinciding with the release of "Cosmogony", and it integrates all the songs' apps. The app for "Crystalline" is a video game that uses the iPod Touch/iPhone/iPad's tilt feature to move a crystal through various underground tunnels. By collecting different crystals from the walls of the tunnel, new tunnels are unlocked, each one playing a different section of the song. Green tunnels play sections from the first verse, pink tunnels play sections from the second one, orange tunnels play sections from the third verse, red tunnels play the chorus and blue tunnels play the coda.

Live performances[edit]

Björk debuted the songs during a series of performances at the Manchester International Festival in England between 27 June and 16 July 2011. Björk performed Biophilia tracks and music from her back catalogue with a small group of musical collaborators, including Graduale Nobili, an Icelandic female choir.[12][13] She performed "Crystalline" during every concert of the Biophilia Tour.

Björk performed the songs live on BBC2's Later... with Jools Holland. On 22 November 2011 the performance of "Crystalline" was broadcast, while the performances of "Cosmogony" and "Thunderbolt" were shown on 25 November.[14]

Track listing[edit]

Official versions[edit]

  • Album version – 5:08
  • Serban Ghenea Mix/Single Mix – 5:06
  • Radio edit/Serban Ghenea Mix Edit – 3:47
  • Omar Souleyman Remix – 6:41
  • Matthew Herbert Mix – 5:17
  • Matthew Herbert Instrumental – 5:15
  • Current Value Remix – 5:02 released on Part 1 of the Biophilia Remix Series
  • MIF live version – 5:26 (Biophilia: Manual Edition CD2)
  • PMRH version – 5:21 (demo version, stream available for a limited time on Icelandair In-flights)


Chart (2011) Peak
Brazil (Billboard Hot 100)[15] 93
Brazil (Billboard Hot Pop Songs)[16] 20
Iceland (RÚV)[17] 12
Japan Hot 100 (Billboard)[18] 18
Portugal (AFP)[19] 43
UK Coalition (Official Charts Company)[20] 1
UK Indie (Official Charts Company)[21] 29
US Dance/Electronic Digital Songs (Billboard)[22] 21
US Rock Digital Songs (Billboard)[23] 49

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label
Worldwide[24] 28 June 2011 (2011-06-28) "Crystalline" Digital download One Little Indian
19 July 2011 (2011-07-19) Serban Ghenea Mixes
  • CD
  • LP
  • digital download
26 July 2011 (2011-07-26) Omar Souleyman Versions
  • CD
  • LP
  • digital download
2 August 2011 (2011-08-02) Crystalline Matthew Herbert Mixes
  • CD
  • LP
  • digital download
2 August 2011 (2011-08-02) Cosmogony Matthew Herbert Mixes
  • CD
  • LP
  • digital download


  1. ^ "16bit, un projet avec Björk". 2011-06-25. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
  2. ^ "Niet compatibele browser". Facebook. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
  3. ^ "Biophilia / Lanzamiento en Septiembre - App desde 30 Junio". Archived from the original on 2011-09-10. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
  4. ^ "Crystalline et Cosmogony en cd et vinyl". 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
  5. ^ Collett-White, Mike (2011-03-17). "Snoop Dogg, Bjork to star at Manchester Festival". Reuters. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
  6. ^ "Niet compatibele browser". Facebook. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
  7. ^ "Escucha "Crystalline", primer single de lo nuevo de Björk". Archived from the original on 2012-07-23. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
  8. ^ Cragg, Michael (2011-06-29). "New music: Björk – Crystalline | Music". London: Retrieved 2011-10-24.
  9. ^ "Niet compatibele browser". Facebook. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
  10. ^ "Le clip de Crystalline". 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
  11. ^ "The Antville Music Video Awards 2011". Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  12. ^ Perpetua, Matthew (17 March 2011). "Björk to Debut New 'Biophilia' Songs at Residency in England". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 17 March 2011.
  13. ^ Young, Alex (17 March 2011). "Björk readies iPad album, Biophilia". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 17 March 2011.
  14. ^ "Björk, Later 2011". Archived from the original on 6 December 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
  15. ^ "Brasil Hot 100 Airplay". Billboard Brasil (Brasil: bpp) (2): 100. August 2011.
  16. ^ "Brasil Hot Pop & Popular Songs". Billboard Brasil (Brasil: bpp) (2): 97. August, 2011.
  17. ^ "Björk Chart History". RÚV. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  18. ^ "Björk - Chart history | Billboard". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  19. ^ "Top 100 Portugal".
  20. ^ "2011 Top 40 Coalition Singles Archive". Official Charts Company. 6 August 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  21. ^ "Official Independent Singles Chart Top 50". Official Charts Company.
  22. ^ "Björk - Chart history | Billboard". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  23. ^ "Björk - Chart history | Billboard". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  24. ^ " official shop". Archived from the original on 23 September 2011. Retrieved 24 September 2011.