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 tracks "My Favourite Things" and the original "Next To Last Song" do not appear on the album at all, despite appearances in the film.
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 was offered only to write and produce the score for the film Dancer in the Dark. But when she read the script, "the idea of putting all of me into this other person and trying to imagine what her interior would sound like was really exciting and quite liberating". Eventually, director Lars von Trier persuaded her to play the starring role. "The angle I took on it was that it wasn’t really acting", said Björk. "Then when we started preparing for the acting I told [von Trier] from the top that I would have to feel it from instinct. And he said 'That suits me fine because I can't stand actresses and acting'". Filming of Dancer in the Dark began in early 1999. She played Selma, a Czech immigrant and single mother working in a factory in rural America who was going blind. Björk, who was known primarily as a musician, had rarely acted before, and has described the process of making the film as so emotionally taxing that she would not appear in any film ever again. She had disagreements with von Trier over the content of the film, and later called him 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 von Trier.
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".