Laufey released her first single 'Street by Street' in 2020Foundations Management / Wikimedia Commons

Laufey is an Icelandic-Chinese singer-songwriter with her heart set on reintroducing jazz and classical music to the modern world. Her rich, velvety voice and endless talent on both the piano and cello result in a nostalgic yet unique sound that is inspiring thousands.

“It is one of the few songs I’ll play whenever I’m missing my own best friend”

In 2020, Laufey released her first single, ‘Street by Street’, which later featured on her first EP, Typical of Me (2021). This EP incorporates a wide range of emotion and storytelling through soaring yet reflective melodies, rich textures and unusual harmonies. On ‘Magnolia’, Laufey describes her jealousy towards another, seemingly perfect girl named Magnolia, a feeling I am sure most young women can relate to. A personal favourite, ‘Best Friend’, encapsulates the warm, fuzzy and familiar feeling of friendship through a love song to Laufey’s twin sister Junia. The track is witty and raw with lyrics promising unconditional love despite the fact her friend’s hair may “look like shit”. It is one of the few songs I’ll play whenever I’m missing my own best friend.

In addition to a broad range of self-written tracks, Laufey has recorded numerous 20th-century jazz standards. When gushing about Laufey to my father, who is often sceptical about modern music, I played both ‘I Wish You Love’ and ‘Misty’. Both these songs made their debuts in the 1950s and have been recorded by artists like Frank Sinatra, Chet Baker and Nat King Cole. The appearance of such songs within Laufey’s discography certainly makes her appealing to a Sinatra-crazy audience. I watched with pride as my father started singing along to the Icelandic singer’s version of ‘Misty’ in the kitchen.

“I watched with pride as my father started singing along to the Icelandic singer’s version of ‘Misty’”

Laufey’s music need not be confined to the kitchen, however. She has filled concert halls and sang alongside the LA Philharmonic Orchestra, resulting in arrangements of her songs that are riddled with Romantic influence. I am almost certain that Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff would be Laufey fans if they were around today. I love the idea of my favourite 19th-century composers waving their arms and singing along toLet You Break My Heart Again’, venting their yearning and broken-heartedness.

Laufey is bringing classical music to a younger audience, with each EP and album incorporating more classical elements as if she is teasing us with her capabilities. Following the success of her debut album Everything I Know About Love, Laufey released A Night At The Symphony with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra – an orchestral version of her debut topped off by her own solo cello playing. Most recently, her latest album Bewitched contains an interlude in the style of a nocturne and entitled as such. The fin de siècle influence is clear, evoking the likes of Chopin, Ravel and Debussy. This short song for piano sits among a collection of pop and jazz tracks, providing an introduction to instrumental music for those unfamiliar with the genre or the ideal moment for boasting to those who claim to “know all about” classical music already.


Mountain View

The cult of Taylor Swift (and why we keep worshipping at her altar)

Laufey certainly has the potential to captivate a wide audience. The broken-hearted can scream her songs in the car, octogenarians can listen with memories of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald buzzing in their heads and music nerds can obsess over her “leaked” sheet music. Indeed, Laufey actively encourages a broad following, revealing in several interviews her dream of repopularising jazz and classical music. Upon leaking the sheet music for her latest record before the album was released, Laufey filmed a crash course in reading music on YouTube. I would highly recommend watching it; it is a good laugh if nothing else as the singer slowly realises how complicated music notation is to teach in ten minutes.

Having fallen in love with Laufey myself, I can only hope that others will too as her music really does contain something for everyone. On TikTok, there is an ongoing joke about her “straight man” audience. If a 20-year-old man in an Adidas tracksuit can find something to love in Laufey’s music, then you can too …