Week 160: “Hengilas” by Jonsi


These are some things I like about Iceland:

  • It is home to roughly 30% of the world’s lava.
  • It is home to zero McDonald’s restaurants.
  • The 1000-kroner bill features one of the most amazing beards in the history of money.
  • Thanks to geothermal energy, the annual cost of heating an Icelandic home is about $20.
  • Everybody there is friendly.
  • Despite having a smaller population than many American neighbourhoods, it produces an incredible number of gifted musicians.

Jonsi is one of them. Aside from being a guitarist and vocalist for the Icelandic band Sigur Ros, he’s spent the last few years building a respectable solo career as well.

Also, he’s blind in one eye.

I couldn’t think of a clever way to include that in my pre-amble, so there it is.

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. The horns and strings that anchor the song are rich and grand without being that loud. It would be the perfect soundtrack to wide-angle shots of the Icelandic countryside, or maybe Vikings running in slow-motion.

2. Jonsi’s falsetto, beginning at 2:48, is a nice contrast to the horns.

3. The song appears to be over at 3:23, but it’s not. If you’re listening on headphones or in a quiet place, you can hear the horn section take a breath just before they begin playing again.

Recommended listening activity:

Dropping ice cubes into a glass of water and listening to them crack.

Buy it here.