Sometime in the late Nineties, Björk wrote and recorded ‘Oral,’ a song that she thought was too poppy for release on albums like Homogenic or Vespertine. Then she forgot about it. She recently rediscovered it in her archives and turned it into a duet with Rosalía, in which the two women sing about falling in love with a man and not knowing how to express it. “Can I just sneak up from behind to the back of his head,” goes one lyric, “then I’ll lift up his hair and nibble ever so lightly.” And that’s after the women sing, “Is that the right thing to do? I just don’t know/I just don’t know.”
“It’s totally that moment when you’ve met someone, and you don’t know if it’s friendship or something more,” Björk told Rolling Stone last month. “So you become, I guess, aroused. And you become very aware of your lips. That’s maybe why I called the song ‘Oral.’ You don’t know what the consequences are if you act. Sometimes fantasy can be amazing, and that’s enough.”
Proceeds from the song will help stop the proliferation of farmed salmon that could endanger the ecology of Iceland’s native fish. The women want to contribute to a legal fund for people who live around the island’s Seyðisfjörður so they can keep an industrial salmon farm from opening up. Leftover money will go to campaigning for new legislation and raising awareness.
In addition to speaking with Rolling Stone about why the cause means so much to her, she spoke about the origins of the song and why she brought in Rosalía to sing on it. “I did the arrangement and the beat myself, and at the time, I was very inspired by dancehall, this music that’s generated from Jamaica,” she said. “So I made a dancehall beat underneath it. And then I was like, ‘Hmm,’ because Rosalía just did sort of an experimental reggaeton album, and I was like, ‘Well, I guess dancehall is sort of the grandmother of reggaeton.’
“I’ve already been a friend of hers for a few years,” she continued, “so I just texted her and said, ‘Would you sing on this track for me? It’s for the environment.’ And she just immediately said yes without having even heard it. She was just on it.”