|Single by Björk|
|from the album Homogenic|
|Released||15 September 1997|
|Studio||El Cortijo, Málaga, Spain|
|Label||One Little Indian|
|Björk singles chronology|
"Jóga" is a song by Björk, released as the first single from her album of 1997, Homogenic. An electronic song, "Jóga" fuses these elements with baroque and classical styles. The track's sound was partially inspired by Icelandic music, containing what have been described as "volcanic beats". Lyrically, the piece is an ode to Björk's native land and her best friend, while containing subtexts relating to emergency (the song contains the repeated lyric "State of emergency").
"Jóga" has been critically acclaimed ever since its release, with reviewers praising her powerful vocal performance, as well as the track's composition and overall production. Commercially, the song was a moderate success, charting in several international markets. In Iceland the song was very popular and peaked at number 1.
Background and composition
—Björk interviewed by David Hemingway
"Jóga" is dedicated to —and named after— Björk's best friend, Jóhanna "Jóga" Johannsdóttir (the wife of former Mayor of Reykjavík City Jón Gnarr), who is usually thanked in her album credits. Like the rest of the album, it was produced at El Cortijo in Málaga, Spain. She wrote the song while walking and admiring the landscape, a common way for her to write songs since childhood.
Björk explained "an overall picture" of it to engineer Markus Dravs, who then came out with a rhythm that she felt was "too abstract". Mark Bell, the producer of the track, then came and "took 99 percent of what [he] did and came up with some noises", giving Dravs new ideas. Björk wrote the string arrangements, which were provided late in the production process by the Icelandic String Octet.
The song is also a dedication to her native Iceland, an example of Björk's desire to have a conceptual focus on the country for Homogenic. Referring to this concept, she told OOR: "The electronic beats are the rhythm, the heartbeat. The violins create the old fashioned atmosphere, the colouring."
"Jóga" has been described as "the real conceptual heart of the record" and "a sonic picture of the geographical beauty of her homeland". The track showcases these hybrid elements of strings and electronic backing beats through the album, thus being described as "baroque electronica" by Slant Magazine's Sal Cinquemani.
The strong beats —referred to as "volcanic"— reflect Iceland's primal and chaotic nature. Due to its harsh beats and halfway drop, some modern critics have described the track as "proto dubstep".
"Jóga" is a love song; its lyrics were written by poet Sjón, Björk's friend and collaborator. Björk explained her inability to write the song's lyrics in an interview with MuchMusic: "I tried to write that tune but, I mean, I just wanted mainly to write lyrics. It was just pathetic. I was like 'her... her...' it was like 'love... love...' I couldn't even put it into words. So, you know, it's -- yeah, it's probably the—I think it's the fiercest love song I have written, I think." She sings about the beauty of being in a "state of emergency", and thanks someone for pushing her into it.
"Jóga" has received acclaim from music critics ever since its release. Heather Phares of Allmusic wrote that "Björk lets a little light shine through "Jóga"" and described it as a "moving song", listing it as one of the album highlights. Furthermore, Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine labelled the track "adrenaline".
David Browne of Entertainment Weekly also commented on "Jóga", writing that it was more "somber" than another single from Homogenic, "Bachelorette", and Björk sings the lyrics with "the strings swelling luxuriantly". Robert Christgau, in his review for the album, placed it as one of the recommended tracks alongside "Bachelorette".
In Slant Magazine's list of the Best Singles of the 1990s, "Jóga" was placed 35th; alongside the ranking, the track was praised, said to contain "one of the Icelandic singer-songwriter's fiercest vocal performances to date", as well as that the "sweeping string arrangement is its true star".
The video for "Jóga" is a departure from her other videos as it focuses primarily on different Icelandic terrains and landscapes with Björk's presence only in the beginning and towards the end. With the aid of computer animation, earthquakes begin to separate and shift the chunks of land along fault lines. The video ends with a computerized image of an island floating inside Björk's chest.
The song "No Bystanders", from American rapper Travis Scott's third album Astroworld, samples the "Jóga"'s intro. The former itself is derived from "Abyss," an unfinished and unreleased song by Juice Wrld, who is featured on "No Bystanders" alongside Sheck Wes. "Abyss" was eventually leaked alongside multiple other Juice Wrld songs on May 21, 2019.
|Belgian Singles Chart (Flanders)||13|
|Finnish Singles Chart||16|
|Iceland (Íslenski Listinn Topp 40)||1|
|Netherlands (Single Top 100)||95|
|New Zealand Singles Chart||43|
|Swedish Singles Chart||37|
|Swiss Singles Chart||49|
|UK Singles Chart||191|
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The swooping strings of "Joga" buttress Björk's frank declaration of a "state of emergency" before ceding, halfway through, to a muted passage that's essentially proto-dubstep.
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When she sings about the beauty of being in a "state of emergency" on the disc's first single...
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