Who Is It (Björk song)

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"Who Is It (Carry My Joy on the Left, Carry My Pain on the Right)"
Single by Björk
from the album Medúlla
B-side "Oceania"
Released 18 October 2004
Length 4:09
Label One Little Indian
Writer(s) Björk
Producer(s) Björk
Björk singles chronology
"It's in Our Hands"
"Who Is It (Carry My Joy on the Left, Carry My Pain on the Right)"
"Triumph of a Heart"

"Who Is It (Carry My Joy on the Left, Carry My Pain on the Right)" is a song recorded by Icelandic singer Björk for her 2004 studio album Medúlla. It was released as the first single from the album on 18 October 2004, by One Little Indian Records. The accompanying music video for the song was directed by Dawn Shadforth and shot outdoors in Björk's native Iceland. The video features the bell choir version of the song, which was re-recorded with the Bústaðakirkja Bell Choir, and is different from the album version.


The first version of the song was written with Bogdan Raczynski. Raczynski stated that he did not want this version to be made generally available. He was quoted as saying, "It was a beautiful thing we did together, but for that reason alone it should be left in the clouds. People need mystery and romance."[1] In spite of this, it did eventually receive a limited vinyl release on the Rephlex record label.

Björk explains about the song:

Chart performance[edit]

In the United Kingdom, "Who Is It" debuted at its peak of number 26 on the UK Singles Chart on the issue dated 24 October 2004. It became her highest peaking single since "Hidden Place", which reached number 21 in 2001.[3] It also obtained the same position in Italy, on the issue dated 2 December 2004, but fell to number 40 the next week, before falling off the chart.[4] In France, "Who Is It" debuted at its peak of number 62, before spending two other weeks and falling off the chart.[5]

Music video[edit]

Björk in the music video for "Who Is It"

The accompanying music video for "Who Is It" was shot in early September 2004 in Hjörleifshöfði, Iceland and directed by Dawn Shadforth. It was premiered at the grand opening of the "Islande de glace et de feu" event at the Palais de la Découverte, in Paris, France, on 27 September 2004.[6] In the video, Björk wears a bell-shaped dress designed by Alexander McQueen,[7] and several children are dressed in clothes covered in small jingle bells that fall off of them. The bell choir was formed by Salka, Júnia, Kaktus, Daði, Örnólfur and Gabríel of The Bústaðakirkja Bell Choir.[8] The version of the song played in the video is different from the album version, removing almost all the vocal music and replacing it with bells, known as the Bell Choir Mix of the song. The bell-shaped dress was shown in Björk's MoMA retrospective in 2015.[9]

Live performances[edit]

Björk performed "Who Is It" on the 2001 Vespertine World Tour during her stops in Parma and Rome, Italy, in November 2001.[10][11] During the promotional campaign for Medúlla, a bell choir mix of "Who Is It" was performed with Rahzel and an English bell choir at BBC's Friday Night with Jonathan Ross on 8 October 2004,[12] and at Maida Vale Studios during a set of songs for Gilles Peterson's radio show on BBC Radio 1, two days later.[13] The song was also performed at Canal+'s L'Album de la semaine in France on 15 October, along with other tracks from Medúlla, airing some days later.[14] "Who Is It" has been performed on the Volta Tour in 2007 and 2008.[15] Additionally, the "Bell Choir" version was performed using the gameleste on the Biophilia Tour.

Cover versions[edit]

In 2011, Bon Iver performed a cover version of the song during a concert in Brooklyn, New York and subsequently covered it on an iTunes live session.[16] In 2015, Kurt Elling released a cover version on his album Passion World.[17]

Track listing[edit]

  1. Who Is It (Radio Edit)
  2. Oceania (featuring Kelis)
  1. Who Is It (C2n Dattasette Mix)
  2. Who Is It (Fruit Machine Mix)
  3. Who Is It (Bell Choir Mix Featuring The Bústaðakirkja Bell Choir)
  1. Who Is It (Video)
  2. Who Is It (Choir Mix)
  3. Mouth's Cradle (Cortejo Afro/Ilê Aiyê Mix)
  1. Who Is It (C2n Dattasette Mix)
  2. Who Is It (Fruit Machine Mix)
  3. Who Is It (Bell Choir Mix)
  4. Oceania (featuring Kelis)


Chart (2004) Peak
France (SNEP)[5] 62
Italy (FIMI)[4] 26
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[3] 26


  1. ^ "bjork.com /// who is it". Retrieved 2004-01-25. 
  2. ^ Radio X 104.9 FM. August 25, 2004. Radio X (United Kingdom). 104.9. 
  3. ^ a b "Archive Chart: 2004-10-24/" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Italiancharts.com – Björk – Who Is It (Carry My Joy on the Left Carry My Pain on the Right)". Top Digital Download. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Lescharts.com – Björk – Who Is It (Carry My Joy on the Left Carry My Pain on the Right)" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  6. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20051123045904/http://www.bjork.com/grapewire/?id=492;year=2004#news
  7. ^ http://www.bbcamerica.com/anglophenia/2010/09/bjork-pays-tribute-to-fashion-designer-alexander-mcqueen/
  8. ^ http://www.bjork.fr/Who-is-it-Clip
  9. ^ http://www.instyle.com/news/bjork-moma-retrospective-2015
  10. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20051123044350/http://www.bjork.com/grapewire/?id=184;year=2001#news
  11. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20100106070743/http://www.bjork.com/facts/gigography/sub.php?date=2001-11-10
  12. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2004/10_october/08/ross_norton.shtml
  13. ^ "BBC - Radio 1 - Gilles Peterson - Tracklisting". BBC Radio 1. Retrieved 25 October 2015. 
  14. ^ "L'Album de la semaine". L'Album de la semaine. Season 1. 25 October 2004. 19 minutes in. Canal+. 
  15. ^ "gigOgraphy: Volta Tour summary". bjork.com. Archived from the original on 18 March 2010. Retrieved 27 December 2015. 
  16. ^ "Two Brief Highlights: Bon Iver at Prospect Park". Retrieved 2011-08-11. 
  17. ^ "Review: Kurt Elling-Passion World". Retrieved 2015-09-28. 

External links[edit]