‘Oral’, the much-anticipated and daring collaboration between Björk and Rosalía

The two artists have released a song for charity in which the Catalan artist sings in English

Oral Bjork Rosalía
Björk and Rosalía in an image from the video for 'Oral'.
Carlos Marcos

After two delays (first announced for October 27 and then for November 9), today, November 21, Oral, the collaboration between Björk and Rosalía, has finally been released. The song is as daring as expected considering the duo’s musical restlessness. Oral features a reggaeton-like rhythm, but the whole song is immersed in those ethereal and dreamy sounds that the Icelandic singer has used so often. The song is performed in English, a rare thing in Rosalía’s career, although she slips in some Spanish lines: “Yo quiero besarle” (I want to kiss him). Björk takes a much more prominent role, delighting the listener with her characteristic singing tone that sounds as if it came from a faraway land.

Oral was entirely written by Björk, who also produced the song with some help from Rosalía. In the track’s video, directed by Carlota Guerrero, the two artists engage in an aesthetic martial arts fight.

Both women have a strong commitment to perform music of the present (and beyond) with the taste of the past. And so their team-up doesn’t seem at all forced. Icelandic Björk (Reykjavik, 57 years old), who started making music much earlier, called Rosalía (Barcelona, 31).

In Björk’s bizarre fantasy world, anything goes. Just like releasing a song she composed 25 years ago and putting it to use for a charity purpose that has nothing to do with the subject of the song. All the money raised by Oral will go to fight against the fish farms that treat salmon farming industrially. More specifically, those operating in the Seyðisfjörður fjords, a picturesque area of eastern Iceland with a population of just over 1,000. “The people in Seyðisfjörður fjord have gone on the battlefield and protested against fish farming. The money the song raises will go to their fight. But it’s not a song about fish, it’s about love,” the 57-year-old singer told The Guardian.

The Icelandic artist has resurrected Oral from an idea 25 years ago, a time when she was working on albums such as Homogenic (1997) and Verpertine (2001). She felt the track was “too pop” to be included in those albums and she recently went back to it. “It has a bit of a dancehall beat, which could be believed to be the godmother of reggaeton. So when I listened to it again, I thought it could be a good fit for Rosalía, because she had put a lot of reggaeton on her last album, Motomami,” she explained.

Oral Bjork Rosalía
Cover designed to launch 'Oral'.

The two artists had paid compliments to each other before the collaboration. First, Rosalía, when she picked up a Grammy award in 2022. The Catalan singer expressed her feelings in response to some commotion in the digital world of social media due to the sexual content of the lyrics of Hentai. In her speech she said: “Madonna has done songs with sexual content before me, Björk has done songs with sexual content before me, Lil’ Kim has done it before me... And that’s why I thought it didn’t have to be controversial; but, you know, if a song with lyrics like that still creates conversation, if a woman talking about it becomes something that people comment on, for me it shows that more songs like that need to keep being made.”

Meanwhile, the Icelandic performer, in an interview with EL PAÍS in March, praised the songwriter of Motomami and spoke about the expansion of Spanish as a pop language: “The appetite for music in Spanish was there, like waiting for the right person to activate it, and Rosalía came along and activated it.”

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