Selmasongs: Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack 'Dancer in the Dark' is the first soundtrack album by Icelandic musician Björk. It was released on September 18, 2000, by One Little Indian Records to promote and accompany the film Dancer in the Dark. In the film Björk starred as Selma Ježková, a Czech immigrant who has moved to the United States. The album features classical arrangements, as well as melodies and beats composed of sounds from mundane objects, such as factory machines and trains.
Notably, some of the song lyrics on the album are substantially different from the songs in the film, the most pronounced example being "Scatterheart". The album omits the vocals of actors David Morse, Cara Seymour and Vladica Kostic. Some lyrics were rewritten, perhaps to prevent spoiling crucial plot details, since the soundtrack was released in stores before the movie opened in theaters, or to make the record flow better as a stand-alone album. In particular, on the song "I've Seen It All", Thom Yorke performs the words sung by Peter Stormare in the film. In addition, the track "My Favourite Things" does not appear on the album at all.
The track "I've Seen It All" was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, and was released as a promotional single in 2000. For the track, Björk made a "webeo" with director Floria Sigismondi that premiered on September 1, 2000 on MTV.com. It used a shorter version of the song that the singer recorded specifically for the webeo.
Björk, who was known primarily as a musician, had rarely acted before, and has described the process of making the film Dancer in the Dark as so emotionally taxing that she would not appear in any film ever again. She had disagreements with director Lars von Trier over the content of the film, wanting the ending to be more uplifting. She later called Trier sexist. Co-star Catherine Deneuve and others have described her performance as feeling rather than acting. Björk has said that it is a misunderstanding that she was put off acting by this film; rather, she never wanted to act but made an exception for Trier. The musical sequences were filmed simultaneously with over 100 digital cameras so that multiple angles of the performance could be captured and cut together later, thus shortening the filming schedule.
At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 76, based on 20 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews". Heather Phares from AllMusic gave a positive review, commenting, "Selmasongs' best tracks are poignant, inventive expressions of Björk's talent and Selma's daydreams and suffering. [...] Selmasongs paints a portrait of a woman losing her sight, but it maintains Björk's unique vision". While giving a "C–" grade, David Browne from Entertainment Weekly noted that "the melding of drum and bass rhythms and panoramic classical orchestrations is as sonically impressive as it was on 1997's Homogenic. But something here brings out the most precious and irritating aspects of Björk's elfin voice", but "yet Selmasongs is mostly show tunes on Ecstasy, and you keep praying for a police raid".
^"Bjork launches celluloid comeback". BBC News. 2005-11-02. Retrieved 2006-12-22. Bjork vowed never to act again after making Dancer in the Dark in 2000, despite winning a best actress prize at the Cannes Film Festival.