I've Seen It All

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"I've Seen It All"
I've Seen It All - Björk.jpg
Promotional single by Björk featuring Thom Yorke
from the album Selmasongs: Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack Dancer in the Dark
Released21 July 2000
RecordedMarch 2000
Genre
Length5:29
LabelOne Little Indian
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)

"I've Seen It All" is a song recorded by Icelandic singer Björk for the Dancer in the Dark soundtrack, Selmasongs (2000). It was written by the singer, along with Sjón and Lars von Trier, who also directed the film. It was released as the first promotional single from Selmasongs on 21 July 2000, by One Little Indian Records. The song features vocals from Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Lyrically, it speaks of one coming to terms with the fact that they are going blind.[1]

The version from the soundtrack album Selmasongs is a duet with Radiohead singer Thom Yorke[2] while the version performed in the film Dancer in the Dark is a duet with actor Peter Stormare.

Background[edit]

We've known about each other for a while. [We were] always just about to do something together, and we were just waiting for the right situation. I was really excited about this song; I thought that I finally had a song that deserved his voice, 'cause he's definitely my favorite male singer in the world. I asked him, and he being the kind of guy he is, full of integrity — there's not a grain of artificial, show-business behavior in him — he kind of insisted that he would turn up [in the studio] and be there for quite a while, so the communication in the song, the recording, was real and genuine. It wasn't just a turn-it-on, you know, "I recorded my bit in Las Vegas and he recorded his..." you know, [like] we never met or something. It was the opposite, and that actually came from him, 'cause I was all just kind of being in work mode, "Yeah, we have to get it done," and he was all, "No, no, no."

— Björk on working with Thom Yorke[3]

Björk invited Radiohead singer Thom Yorke to record vocals in the album version. This new version was recorded over a four-day span in March 2000, with Björk recording her vocals in Las Vegas.[3] In an interview with Time Out magazine, she said: "It was my idea to work with Thom. We spent four days in Spain just singing as and when we felt like it. He's a very pure soul and I know he doesn't do things lightly. So it was great that he agreed".[4] The song was made available for download through Björk's website on 21 July 2000.[5]

Reception[edit]

Alexandra Flood from MTV gave a positive review, saying "The centerpiece of the record is, "I've Seen It All", her duet with Radiohead's Thom Yorke. Björk describes the song as Selma's manifesto. It's a beautiful and eerie track, the pair's vocals careening over a techno beat, but just under a lovely set of strings. It's a minor masterpiece".[6] On the other hand, Ryan Schreiber from Pitchfork said "the paired vocalists also seem an odd match here; when Björk's soaring, intense delivery meets Yorke's general disinterest, the chemistry is far from convincing".[7]

Music videos[edit]

There are two music videos for this single. The main version of the video is an excerpt from the film Dancer in the Dark in which Björk, Peter Stormare and others sing the song on a train. The second version was directed by Floria Sigismondi and was an interactive "webeo" (a web animation) for an MTV promotion. Björk appeared with her face painted and the viewer could change the scenes and special effects by clicking on the video.[8] A third version was going to be directed by M/M Paris, but there were several problems with the distribution of the song, and finally the video was cancelled. Later, the idea for this video was used for the "Hidden Place" video.[9]

Live performances[edit]

"I've Seen It All" was performed by Björk and Brodsky Quartet for the very first time on December 1999 at Union Chapel, Islington, almost one year before it was released.[10] Björk performed "I've Seen It All" at the 73rd Academy Awards, where the song was nominated for Best Original Song, with a 55-piece orchestra wearing her swan dress. She said before performing on the show, "I'm really excited [to perform]. I won many awards [and] I've been to a lot of [award] shows. This is the most exciting one for me. I'm not just gonna go and grab a fancy frock. It's about singing, so it's a completely different headspace, which is sort of why I'm doing it. I'm really excited. Really, really excited".[11] Billboard ranked it as the ninth "most awesome" Oscar performance of all time, saying that Björk's "outfit may have cemented her place in Oscar lore, but Bjork's performance was just as memorable, and refreshingly unconventional".[12]

Cover versions[edit]

"I've Seen It All" has been covered by Bonnie 'Prince' Billy in his 2007 album Ask Forgiveness.[13] It was covered by Tristan Tzara on their 2001 album Omorina Nad Evropom. It was also covered by the jazz organ trio Karl Orgeltríó and singers Ragnar Bjarnason and Salka Sól Eyfeld in 2017.[14]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from Björk's official website.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Morehead, Jason. "Selmasongs by Björk (Review) - Opus". Opus. Archived from the original on 16 September 2015. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  2. ^ "Bjork, 'Almost Famous' Nominated For Golden Globes". mtv.com. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  3. ^ a b "björk: in focus". MTV. Archived from the original on 6 November 2001. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  4. ^ https://www.nme.com/news/music/bjork-222-1392680#r1WMChCvLe2Ro3Ze.99
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 November 2005. Retrieved 23 November 2005.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ Flood, Alexandra (23 February 2001). "Bjork Album Info". MTV. Archived from the original on 4 August 2002. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  7. ^ Schreiber, Ryan (31 August 2000). "Björk: Selmasongs". Pitchfork. Retrieved 26 November 2011.
  8. ^ "bjork.com / grapewire". Archived from the original on 29 November 2005. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  9. ^ "Hidden Place". bjork.fr. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
  10. ^ https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/arts-pop-strung-out-on-the-sublime-1132537.html
  11. ^ http://www.mtv.com/bands/archive/b/bjork01/index2.jhtml#oscar
  12. ^ Billboard Staff (24 February 2012). "10 Awesome Oscar Live Performances". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
  13. ^ https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/10934-ask-forgiveness/
  14. ^ https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/ive-seen-it-all/1275668552?i=1275668781
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 August 2002. Retrieved 8 August 2002.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)