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Sigur Rós ( , ) is an Icelandicmarker post-rock band with melodic, classical, and minimalist elements. The band is known for its ethereal sound and lead singer Jónsi Birgisson's falsetto voice.


Von (1997) and Von brigði (1998)

Jón Þór Birgisson (guitar and vocals), Georg Hólm (bass) and Ágúst Ævar Gunnarsson (drums) formed the group in Reykjavíkmarker in August 1994. Their name is Icelandic wordplay: while the individual words Sigur and Rós mean, respectively, Victory and Rose, "Victory Rose" wouldn't be grammatically correct; the name is actually borrowed from Jónsi's younger sister Sigurrós, who was born the same day as the band was formed, and then split into two words. They soon won a record deal with the local Sugarcubes-owned record label, Bad Taste. In 1997, they released Von ( , meaning "hope") and in 1998 a remix collection named Von brigði ( ). This name is also Icelandic wordplay: Vonbrigði means "disappointment", but Von brigði means "variations on Von". The band was joined by Kjartan Sveinsson on keyboards in 1998. He is the only member of Sigur Rós with musical training, and has contributed most of the orchestral and string arrangements for their later work.

Ágætis byrjun (1999)

International acclaim came with 1999's Ágætis byrjun ( "An all right start"). The album's reputation spread by word of mouth over the following two years. Soon critics worldwide hailed it as one of the great albums of its time, and the band was playing support to established acts such as Radiohead. Three songs, Ágætis byrjun', "Svefn-g-englar", and a live take of the then-unreleased "Njósnavélin" (later 'un-named' "Untitled #4") appeared in the Cameron Crowe film Vanilla Sky. The two songs also subsequently appeared in the US version of the television series Queer as Folk. Their music has also appeared in the TV series 24 with Ný batterí, CSI with "Svefn-g-englar" and CSI: Miami. In 2004, Wes Anderson used "Starálfur" in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou as did the Emmy winning 2005 TV film The Girl in the Café and "Untitled 3" (a.k.a. Samskeyti) can be heard in the final scene from the Gregg Araki film Mysterious Skin. It can also be heard in Skins . They are also used in Enki Bilal's Immortel . The song "Svefn-g-englar" was also used on "V " on November 24th, 2009.

After the release of Ágætis byrjun, the band became well known for Jónsi's signature style of playing guitar with the bow from a cello, accentuated with reverb.

Rímur (2001)

In 2001, Sigur Rós christened their newly completed studio by recording an EP with an Icelandic fisherman named Steindór Andersen. The EP contains six songs, all of which feature Steindór Andersen reciting traditional Icelandic poetry called rímur. Sigur Rós accompany him on three songs. Two songs feature Steindór alone. The last song on the EP, "Lækurinn", is a duet with Sigurður Sigurðarson. A thousand copies of the EP were printed and sold during the spring tour of 2001. The EP was sold in a blank-white-paper case.

( ) (2002)

Drummer Ágúst left the band after the recording of Ágætis byrjun and was replaced by Orri Páll Dýrason. In 2002, their highly anticipated follow-up album was released. Upon release all tracks on the album were untitled, though the band later published song names on their website. All of the lyrics on ( ) are sung in Vonlenska, also known as Hopelandic, a constructed language of nonsense syllables which resembles the phonology of the Icelandic language. It has also been said that the listener is supposed to interpret their own meanings of the lyrics which can then be written in the blank pages in the album booklet.

Sigur Rós collaborated with Radiohead in October 2003 to compose music for Merce Cunningham's dance piece Split Sides; Sigur Rós’s three tracks were named Ba Ba Ti Ki Di Do and released in March 2004 while Radiohead's contribution was never released. Sigur Rós' 1997 debut album Von found a US and UK release in October 2004.

"Untitled 3" from the album is used on the video "6AM" by film maker Carmen Vidal, winner of the 2006 Student Academy Award.

Takk... (2005)

Sigur Rós performing in Hong Kong, on 7 April, 2006.
Their fourth album, Takk... ( ; "Thanks...") employs the distinctive sound of their second album in a more rock oriented structure with greater use of the guitar, and was released in September 2005. "Hoppípolla" ( "Hop in puddles"), the second official single from Takk..., was released in November alongside a new studio remake of "Hafsól" ( "Ocean Sun"), a song that was previously released on the band's 1997 debut, Von. "Hoppípolla" was used in the trailers for the BBC's natural history series Planet Earth in 2006, as well as the closing credits for the 2006 FA Cup final and ITV's coverage of the 2006 Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, advertisements for the BBC's coverage of England games during the 2006 FIFA World Cup, on television advertisements for RTÉmarker's Gaelic games coverage in Ireland and on an advertisement for Oxfam. It was also used in the final scene of the movie Penelope, for the trailer of the film Children of Men and for the trailer of the film Slumdog Millionaire. Following this, demand for the single grew. It was made more widely available by EMI in consequence. This song is also used in the trailer for the Disney movie Earth.

An extended Sæglópur EP ( ) was released in July 2006 in most parts of the world and in August in the United States. Its original release was scheduled in May, but because of the sudden demand of "Hoppípolla" it was pushed back from that date. Sigur Rós recorded three new songs to appear on the EP ("Refur", "Ó friður", and "Kafari"). In July 2006, Sigur Rós finished a major world tour with stops in Europe, the United States (where they played a headline show at the Hollywood Bowl), Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Japan. Upon return to their homeland, Sigur Rós provided a series of free surprise outdoor concerts throughout Iceland in July and August, playing in various venues such as abandoned bunkers and community coffee shops, all of which were included in the 2007 documentary film Heima. They also performed twice in the United States in February.

Heima and Hvarf/Heim (2007)

In August 2007, a limited DVD+CD edition of the 2002 soundtrack to the documentary Hlemmur was released. Hvarf/Heim ( ) was released on 5 November (6 November in the U.S.), a double compilation album containing studio versions of previously unreleased songs — "Salka" ['salka], "Hljómalind" ['ɬʲoʊ̯maˌlɪnt] (formerly known as "Rokklagið"), "Í Gær" and "Von" —, on Hvarf, and acoustic studio versions of the songs: "Samskeyti" ( ), "Starálfur" , "Vaka" , "Ágætis Byrjun", "Heysátan" and "Von", on Heim. On the same day (20 November in the U.S.) Heima, a live DVD of the previous summer’s Iceland tour, was released. Just prior to the release of Hvarf/Heim, on 29 October, a single named Hljómalind was released.

To promote their film Heima, the band scheduled a series of premiere screenings throughout the world, featuring a short acoustic set before the film and a question-and-answer session afterwards.

Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (2008)

The band's fifth regular studio album ( , "With a Buzz in Our Ears We Play Endlessly"), recorded with producer Flood in downtown Reykjavík, was released in June 2009 to generally positive reviews. Stylistically different from their earlier releases, it featured fewer strings and more guitar, and had more pop-oriented songs, making it "the group's most accessible effort" while maintaining the "majestic beauty that defines the band's music." The final track "All Alright" is the band's first to be sung in English, though all the other lyrics are in Icelandic.

Sigur Rós performing in Bournemouth, United Kingdom, 2008
The band were announced as a headlining act for the 2008 Splendour in the Grass Festival in Byron Baymarker, Australia, Latitude Festival 2008 and the 2008 La Route du Rock Festival in St Malomarker, France. In addition, the band performed a late-night set at the 2008 Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennesseemarker, where they blew a speaker at the end of their second song. Jónsi Birgisson commented, "The piano is exploding, I think," one of the few things spoken in English.

The band released the first song from the album entitled "Gobbledigook" for free on their website, along with a music video.

On June 8, the whole album was made available for free streaming on their website and

In the fall of 2008 Sigur Rós embarked on a world tour supporting their newly released album. The band played as a four piece without Amiina and the brass band, the first time the band had played as a four piece in seven years. The tour started on 17 September 2008 in the United Statesmarker, at the United Palace Theatermarker in New York City, and finished with a concert in Reykjavíkmarker at Laugardalshöllmarker on 23 November 2008. The majority of the tour was European with the exception of concerts in the United Statesmarker, Australia, Canadamarker and Japanmarker.

New album

On 28 May 2009 Sigur Rós announced that they had almost completed recording their latest album. The band said the album is taking form as a slower and more ambient record than both Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust and Takk.... The music is also described as melodic but much less noisy and more "out there" than previous albums. The as yet untitled album is expected to be released sometime in 2010.


Vonlenska is a term used to describe the unintelligible lyrics sung by the band, in particular by Jón Þór Birgisson. It is also commonly known by the English translation of its name, Hopelandic. It takes its name from "Von", a song on Sigur Rós’s debut album Von where it was first used.

Vonlenska is a non-literal language, without fixed syntax, and differs from constructed languages that can be used for communication. It focuses entirely on the sounds of language; lacking grammar, meaning, and even distinct words. Instead, it consists of emotive syllables and phonemes; in effect, Vonlenska uses the melodic and rhythmic elements of singing without the conceptual content of language. In this way, it is similar to the use of scat singing in vocal jazz. The band’s website describes it as “a form of gibberish vocals that fits to the music”. Most of the syllable strings sung by Jón Þór Birgisson are repeated many times throughout each song, and in the case of , throughout the whole album.

Songs featuring Vonlenska

Sigur Rós performing in Barcelona, 2005
  • From Von:
    • "Von"

  • From :
    • All songs with vocals are sung exclusively in Vonlenska.

  • From Takk...:
    • "Hoppípolla" (Following the Icelandic line "En ég stend alltaf upp")
    • "Sé lest"
    • "Sæglópur" (With Icelandic at the end)
    • "Mílanó"
    • "Gong"
    • "Andvari"
    • "Svo hljótt" (Following the Icelandic line "Ég þakka þér þá von...")

  • From Hvarf:
    • "Salka"
    • "Hljómalind"
    • "Í Gær"
    • "Von"
    • "Hafsól" (In the middle and towards the end)

  • From Heim:
    • "Vaka"
    • "Ágætis byrjun" (Towards the end)
    • "Von"

  • From Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust:
    • "Við spilum endalaust" (With Hopelandic in all the refrains between the lines "Við spiluðum" and in the end)
    • "Festival"
    • "Ára bátur" (Following the Icelandic line "Ég fór, þú fórst" + entire second half)
    • "Fljótavik" (Towards the end)
    • "All Alright" (Towards the end)

  • Other Songs:
    • "Fönklagið"
    • "Gítardjamm"
    • "Nýja lagið"
    • "Heima" [DVD Version]


Former members


Studio albums


  1. interview with the band that describes the etymology
  2. Information about vonlenska on the official website

External links

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