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Single by Björk
from the album Homogenic
Released15 September 1997 (1997-09-15)[1]
StudioEl Cortijo, Málaga, Spain
  • 3:22 (video version)
  • 4:03 (radio edit)
  • 5:01 (album version)
  • 4:42 (strings and vocals)
LabelOne Little Indian
Björk singles chronology
"I Miss You"

"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".[2] 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[edit]

"With this song, I really had a sort of National Anthem in mind. Not the National Anthem but certain classic Icelandic songs - very romantic, very proud"

—Björk interviewed by David Hemingway[3]

"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.[3] She wrote the song while walking and admiring the landscape, a common way for her to write songs since childhood.[4]

Björk explained "an overall picture" of it to engineer Markus Dravs, who then came out with a rhythm that she felt was "too abstract".[5] 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.[5] Björk wrote the string arrangements, which were provided late in the production process by the Icelandic String Octet.[6]

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."[7]

"Jóga" has been described as "the real conceptual heart of the record" and "a sonic picture of the geographical beauty of her homeland".[6] 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.[2]

The strong beats —referred to as "volcanic"— reflect Iceland's primal and chaotic nature.[3] Due to its harsh beats and halfway drop, some modern critics have described the track as "proto dubstep".[8][6]

"Jóga" is a love song; its lyrics were written by poet Sjón, Björk's friend and collaborator.[3] 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."[9] She sings about the beauty of being in a "state of emergency",[10] and thanks someone for pushing her into it.[11]

Critical reception[edit]

"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.[12] Furthermore, Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine labelled the track "adrenaline".[13]

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".[14] Robert Christgau, in his review for the album, placed it as one of the recommended tracks alongside "Bachelorette".[15]

In Slant Magazine's list of the 100 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".[16]

Music video[edit]

A computer-animated Björk prys open a hole in her chest to reveal an island in the music video for "Jóga"

The music video was directed by Michel Gondry and filmed in Iceland.[17]

The video for "Jóga" is a departure from her other videos as it features a simple concept of focusing 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.

Track listing[edit]


Chart performance for "Jóga"
Chart (1997) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[18][19] 70
Belgian Singles Chart (Flanders)[20] 13
Finnish Singles Chart[21] 16
Iceland (Íslenski Listinn Topp 40)[22] 1
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[23] 95
New Zealand Singles Chart[24] 43
Swedish Singles Chart[25] 37
Swiss Singles Chart[26] 49
Chart (1998) Peak
UK Singles Chart[27] 191


  1. ^ "The Album". Homogenic. Björk's WebSense. 1997. Archived from the original on 19 August 2000. Retrieved 14 March 2014.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  2. ^ a b "The 100 Best Singles of the 1990s". Slant Magazine. 9 January 2011. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d "GH&FT special : Jóga". bjork.com. Archived from the original on 3 April 2005. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  4. ^ Whitwell, Tom (December 1999). "Ready, Steady, Kook!". Mixmag. Emap International Limited. Available here
  5. ^ a b Doerschuk, Robert L. (December 1997). "Björk - Saga you can dance to". Musician. Available here
  6. ^ a b c "Landmark Productions: Bjork – Homogenic". MusicTech. 3 December 2014. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  7. ^ "Björk:albums:Homogenic:Icelandic techno". Muziekkrant OOR. September 1997. Archived from the original on 19 March 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
  8. ^ Shoup, Brad (22 February 2013). "Björk Albums From Worst To Best". Stereogum. Retrieved 24 January 2015. 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.
  9. ^ Sook-Yin Lee (4 May 1998). "Interview transcript". MuchMusic. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  10. ^ "Björk -Homogenic". Out. Out Pub., Incorporated. 6 (1–6): 65. 1997. Retrieved 24 January 2015. When she sings about the beauty of being in a "state of emergency" on the disc's first single...
  11. ^ Hunter, Hunter (October 1997). "Reviews: Björk - Homogenic (Elektra)". Spin. SpinMedia. 13 (7): 135. ISSN 0886-3032. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  12. ^ "Homogenic - Björk". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  13. ^ "Björk Homogenic | Album Review | Slant Magazine". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  14. ^ "Homogenic | EW.com". Entertainment Weekly's EW.com. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  15. ^ "Robert Christgau: CG: bjork". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  16. ^ "The 100 Best Singles of the 1990s | Feature | Slant Magazine". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  17. ^ Haraldsdottir, Ragnheidur Harpa (27 January 2020). "Björk All You Need To Know About The Quirky Icelander". Iceland Travel. Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  18. ^ "The ARIA Australian Top 100 Singles Chart – Week Ending 09 Nov 1997". ARIA. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  19. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988-2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  20. ^ "Björk - Jóga" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50 (Flemish). Hung Medien. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  21. ^ "Björk– Jóga" (in French). Ultratop 50. Hung Medien. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  22. ^ "Íslenski Listinn NR. 244 Vikuna 23.10. '97 - 30.10. '97" (PDF). Dagblaðið Vísir. 24 October 1997. p. 22. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  23. ^ "Björk – Jóga" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Hung Medien. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  24. ^ "Björk - Jóga". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Hung Medien. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  25. ^ "Björk - Jóga". Sverigetopplistan. Hung Medien. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  26. ^ "Björk - Jóga" (in Dutch). Swiss Music Charts. Hung Medien. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  27. ^ "Chart Log UK 1994–2010 > Darren B – David Byrne". zobbel.de. Retrieved 12 March 2016.

External links[edit]