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Greatest Hits
Venus as a Boy
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"Venus as a Boy" is a song by Icelandic singer and songwriter Björk. It was released as the second single from her 1993 album Debut (1993). The song was written by Björk and was produced by Nellee Hooper, who produced the majority of her debut album. The single was released in August 1993, a month after the release of the album. The song was inspired by a boy who saw everything from a "beauty point of view".

"Venus as a Boy" is a chillout song influenced by avant-garde sounds. The song features also an peculiar musical ensemble, made up of Indian instruments like Tablas. The song received mixed reviews from critics, who discussed Björk's musical shift. The song didn't chart well in any nation but managed to enter the UK Singles Chart Top 30.

The accompanying music video was directed by the British music video director Sophie Muller. The clip shows Björk in a kitchen while she's cooking some eggs and was inspired by the singer's favorite book Story of the Eye. Björk performed the song on different TV appearances, including Top of the Pops, and sang it during the course of her Debut Tour.

The song was later chosen by fans to be included in her greatest hits album, Greatest Hits and also appeared in her Family Tree Box Set which contained a "greatest hits" disc on which the songs were chosen by Björk.

Background and inspiration

The song was written by Björk and was produced by Nellee Hooper. It was one of the last tracks to be recorded for the album. The song was inspired by a "specific person" but Björk never revealed who it was. Although, it is supposed that this specifical person is Dominic Thrupp (also known as Dom T.) with whom Björk had a relationship at the time of writing. Moreover, the song talks about a boy who saw everything from a "beauty point of view, and not superficial beauty but the beauty of brushing your teeth and the beauty of waking up in the morning in the right beat and the beauty of having a conversation with a person." as revealed by the singer.

The B-sides were "Stígðu Mig" ("Step Me"), a song originally recorded by The Elgar Sisters; a group formed in the early eighties by guitarist Guðlaugur Kristinn Óttarsson and Björk, written by Björk, Óttarsson and Thór Eldon. The other B-side is "I Remember You", a cover of the classic love song written by Victor Schertzinger and Johnny Mercer, that was recorded together with "Like Someone in Love", but didn't make the last cut as the latter. In both songs Corky Hale plays the Harp.

Björk described the composition of the song in an interview with David Hemingway:

"I think I wrote it in my living room in Iceland and sang it into my dictaphone. Later, by accident, we were going through sounds and I found this broken bottle sound. It wasn't intentional but it sounded great. It was one of the last songs recorded for Debut - the album was ready to go. Sometimes the more unpredictable side of me does several headstands and flicks-flacks once the album has been delivered and the best song come out."

The song is influenced by different genres, like chillout, avant-garde and electronica. Since Björk wanted the album to sound like an Indian soundtrack, many tracks including "One Day", "Come to Me" and the same "Venus as a Boy" features Indian instruments. The strings were accorded by Talvin Singh and recorded in Bombay. The track heavily uses Vibraphone.

Critical reception:

The track received mixed reviews from music critics. Heather Phares of Allmusic complimented the song and its lyrics, stating that "the album's romantic moments may be its most striking; "Venus as a Boy" fairly swoons with twinkly vibes and lush strings, and Björk's vocals and lyrics -- "His wicked sense of humor/Suggests exciting sex" -- are sweet and just the slightest bit naughty". A less flattering review came from Rolling Stone reviewer Tom Graves, who discussed the singer's shift from rock to alternative music, commenting that the Indian orchestra in "Come to Me" and "Venus as a Boy" " more intrusive than galvanizing". On a similar note, Kate Narburgh of The Chronicle, citing the "Mellow vibes accent "Venus as a Boy"", hoped that "Björk won't waste her vocal talent on such talentless music".

The song was nominated in the "Song of the Year" category at the inaugural Icelandic Music Awards in 1993

The movie Léon features the song in a wordless series of scenes between the two main characters.

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