Björk and Rosalía are saving pop music and fish.
On Tuesday, the musicians released their highly anticipated collaboration, “Oral,” to spread awareness about the environmental dangers of open net-pen salmon farming in Iceland. Proceeds for the single will go to the non-profit organization Aegis; at the start of the music video, a title card states that “all funds raised will support legal fees for protesters.”
Back in October, the same day she announced the duet, Björk joined more than 2,000 agricultural workers and citizens at a demonstration in Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik, to protest for Norwegian-owned fish farming operations in her home country. According to a press release for “Oral,” “these genetically altered, diseased salmon regularly escape the pens and swim upriver to Iceland’s highlands, where devastating genetic mixing occurs and endangers the future of Iceland’s wild salmon population.”
In an Instagram post on Monday, the “Hyperballad” singer called the industrial phenomenon “horrid for the environment.” She wrote, “The farmed salmon goes through immense suffering. And it causes severe harm for our planet. This is an extraordinarily cruel way to make food. The fight against the open net pen industry is a part of the fight for the future of the planet.”
She also thanked Spanish singer Rosalía for her contributions on “Oral”, complimenting her “incredible voice” and “experiments with the genre.”
As two notable genre-bending artists, a collaboration immediately sounded like a recipe for success. So what does the Björk and Rosalía fish song sound like after all this hype?
In short, it’s pretty damn good. If listeners were expecting an angry protest song, this is certainly not it; as you may have guessed from the title, the underlying theme is much more sensual. “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.”
“Is this the right thing to do? / I just don’t know / I don’t know,” the two women sing in the euphoric chorus. The song was first written between Björk’s 1997 album Homogenic and 2001’s Vespertine (“Oral” sounds like it belongs on the former). Co-produced by Sega Bodega, it’s a mid-tempo, dancehall-esque track with an intoxicating string arrangement on par with Björk’s songs “Unravel” and “All It’s Full of Love.”
The infectious melody perfectly captures the metaphorical butterflies of discovering a crush, almost completely overriding the anxiety and skepticism in the lyrics. And Björk’s raspy but perky vocals blend perfectly alongside Rosalía’s silky, angelic soprano.
Of course, their stans on social media, hyperbolic as usual, have decided that the track has already saved Iceland’s marine life.
Hopefully, this won’t be the last joint project between these two—if “Oral” is any indication, a full album with these musical goddesses could deliver a barrage of bops, if not save all wildlife.
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