Iceland Mag

4 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag


The story of Iceland's two biggest bands

By Dr. Gunni

  • Sigur Rós (left) and Of Monsters and Men are Iceland's most popular bands.

Of Monsters And Men´s debut album, My Head is an Animal, went to number sixth on the USA Billboard chart in April 2012. Sigur Rós hit number seven on the same chart one month later with Valtari and in 2013 peaked at number 14 with Kveikur, their seventh album. Icelandic music expert Dr. Gunni measures the bands against each other.

Active since

Sigur Rós (SR) 1994
Of Monsters and Men (OMAM) 2010


SR Originally three semi-mysterious guys, including Jónsi, an introvert front-man that usually plays his guitar with a bow and sings in falsetto. Ágúst the original drummer left in 1999 and was replace with Orri, multi instrumentalist Kjartan joined in 1998 but left again in early 2013. So the current membership is Jónsi, bassist George and Orri, the drummer. 
OMAM Five sunshiny guys and a girl, Nanna. The front consists of Nanna and the indie-lumberjack co-frontperson Ragnar, strumming their acoustic guitars and singing joyfully together.

Known for

SR Dream-like ethereal songs that can cause listeners to weep and long for unspoiled Icelandic nature.
OMAM Uplifting and catchy pop songs in the indie-folk vein that can cause listeners to sing along cheerfully and shout “Hey!”

Music may conjure up images of

SR God crying, whales having sex on top of a melting iceberg, etc.
OMAM I-phone using indie-scouts singing around a campfire, a modern hoe-down, etc.

Language used

SR Icelandic, a little bit of English, and a nonsense babble that strangely got labeled “Hopelandish”. Many thought it was a made up language, but in fact it was the results of Jónsi’s writers block.
OMAM English.

Major albums released
SR 7

Worldwide album sales
SR 6,500,000
OMAM 1,400,000

Facebook likes:

SR 1,621,000
OMAM 1.609.000

Best Youtube view count

SR Olsen Olsen (HD from Heima) 3,564,000. Watch here
OMAM Little Talks (Live on KEXP) 7,310,000. Watch here

Their contribution to Hollywood

SR The band's music has appeared in great many films and TV series, including Vanilla Sky, 127 Hours and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Jónsi contributed "Sticks And Stones" exclusively to How To Train Your Dragon. And yes, Sigur Ros had a cameo in the "Iceland"-episode of The Simpsons.
OMAM The band's music has appeared in various TV series and in the movies The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, where "Silhouettes", their most recent song can be heard. See the official trailer of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty with OMAM'S song "Dirty Paws" here

Where they‘re at

SR Getting more light and poppy with their 2008 album – and with Jónsi’s 2010 solo album – all hopes of further experiments with catchy pop tunes were crushed with the extra moody and slow 2012 album Valtari. Surprisingly the band went for a heavy industrial approach on Kveikur, where beautiful rock songs could be glimpsed through the din. The band has just completed an extensive world tour to support Kveikur and are currently taking a break and thinking their next move.
OMAM Having won Músíktilraunir (the Icelandic Battle of the Bands thing) in 2010, OMAM’s rise has been phenomenally quick. OMAM’s first album, My Head is an Animal, sprung to #6 on the US Billboard chart and has continued to sell well. The band has been touring the world for most of 2012 and 2013, and is now taking a well deserved break and working on new music.

The future

SR The band celebrated its' 20th birthday on the 4th of January 2014, but as Kveikur showcased they're still able to surprise. Being very creative the band will obviously bounce back with something excellent as soon as they're tired of "doing nothing".
OMAM One hit wonder or something that lasts? Only the quality of the next album will tell. We're all waiting with baited breath.



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