Oceania (song)

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For the Smashing Pumpkins song, see Oceania (The Smashing Pumpkins album).
"Oceania" cover
Promotional single by Björk from the album Medúlla
Released 2004
Format Promo CD
Length 3:24
Label One Little Indian
Medúlla track listing
"Desired Constellation"
"Sonnets/Unrealities XI"

"Oceania" is a song by Icelandic singer Björk. It was formerly planned to be the first single release from Björk's Medúlla album. Later it was just released as a promo. It was written for the 2004 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony, where she performed immediately following the Parade of Nations. As with most of Medúlla, the track is composed purely of human vocals and features a London choir and Leeds-based beatboxer Shlomo. The lyrics are written by her friend, Sjón, who is an Icelandic poet and novelist. They are written in the point of view of the ocean who sings about the evolution of humans from her waters. This was the last song written and mixed for the album.

The video, directed by Lynn Fox, features a jewel-encrusted Björk in dark watery depths, with a colourful sunset and swirling floral creatures above her. Lynn Fox also made visuals for Björk's Greatest Hits Tour and the music video for "Nature Is Ancient" which is available on the greatest hits DVD Volumen as a bonus.

A re-recording of "Oceania" was featured as a B-side to the "Who Is It" single. This version features vocals by Kelis and additional lyrics she had written herself from the continent's point of view.[1] A piano version also appeared on the DVD single, which was assisted in its creation by Nico Muhly.[2]

The song was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 2005 Grammy Awards but lost out to Norah Jones.


During an interview with Nico Muhly, pianist on "Oceania", he stated:

When Björk asked me to play piano on Oceania, she sent me the music, and it was as complicated and layered as any piece of classical music I've played. I spent a few days figuring out how to make her vision of "dueling lounge-lizard pianists" physically possible, and in the session, we ran through those quickly. Then, she experimented with different ways to space the progression of chords that runs through the piece - I suggested big, Brahmsy blocks - as well as the ending, for which we tried diaphanous, Debussy-like arpeggios.[3]

Live performances[edit]

At the 2004 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony, where Björk performed the song for the first time, she wore a very large dress which unfolded during her performance to eventually occupy the entire stadium and showed a map of the world in sign of union.[4] Additionally, Björk wore "bluish-purple glittery eye shadow across her lids. Her dark hair dangled in tiny twists that framed her pixieish, freckled face".[5] Jake Coyle from Today commented that her dress was "reminiscent in its uniqueness to the infamous swan dress she wore to the Oscars in 2001".[6]

Being a fan favorite, "Oceania", along with several other tracks from Medúlla, surfaced on the 2007-2008 Volta Tour. It was first introduced on April 4 at the Laugardalshöll in Reykjavik, Iceland, where sweeping brass arrangements replaced the choral voices from the album version.

Music video[edit]

The music video directed by LynnFox, premiered on August 23. It's a sort of tour visual showing Björk with crystals encrusted on her face, standing in an underwater scene, amidst floral forms and jellyfish with liquids flowing around her while singing the song.

A different version of this video was shot especially for the Olympic Ceremony since the version used there differs from the album version.


The song was sampled by E-40 in the track "Spend the Night" featuring Laroo, The DB'z, Droop-E & B-Slimm on his 2010 Revenue Retrievin': Night Shift album.

The song was sampled by Aquariel in the track "On Ira À La Mer...".


Chart (2004) Peak
Turkey Top 20 Chart[7] 4

Promo CD track listing[edit]

  1. "Oceania"
  2. "Oceania" (Remix featuring Kelis)


  • Acapella version - 3:12
  • Album version
  • Piano and vocal mix – 3:04
  • Radio mix featuring Kelis – 2:55
  • Olympic studio version – 3:14

External links[edit]