Play Dead (3:39)

Cover of Debut

From Debut and 15 other releases

“Play Dead” is a song by Icelandic singer Björk, and was released as the only single from the soundtrack of the 1993 crime drama The Young Americans. The song wasn’t included in the first edition of Debut but was later included as a bonus track, and the album was re-issued in November 1993. The song was written by Jah Wobble, Björk featuring David Arnold, and was produced by Cannon, Arnold, receiving additional production and mixing by Tim Simenon. The song, inspired by the main character of the film, was released in October 1993.

A mainly trip-hop-influenced track, the song charted in the Top 20 in every nation it entered. An accompanying music video was released, featuring images from the film. “Play Dead” was included in Björk’s 2003 greatest hits album Greatest Hits.


Background and Composition


The song was co-written by Jah Wobble, Björk featuring David Arnold. Björk was asked to write the melody and lyrics for the song, while Wobble wrote the bass part and Arnold composed the score, which Björk described as a “greatest hits of what’s in the film”.

Björk described the writing as “very difficult” because “the character in the film was suffering and going through hardcore tough times and at the time I was at my happiest”. To help her in the writing, she asked the film’s director, Danny Cannon, to write her a whole page of phrases that represented the emotions of the characters in the film, but she used only one line that Cannon wrote: “Sometimes, it’s just like sinking”, and still she changed it to “It’s sometimes just like sleeping” in the actual lyrics.

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