Laufey: Gen-Z’s Biggest Jazz Obsession

Album cover for Bewitched: The Goddess Edition
Album cover for Bewitched: The Goddess Edition
Laufey

“I don’t hear much about new jazz,” senior Mia Case said. “But I love Laufey.”

From performing with the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra at age 15 to playing cello for Billy Joel on the same night as her Grammy win, calling Laufey talented would be an understatement. 

Laufey Lín Bing Jónsdóttir, widely known just as Laufey (pronounced Lay-Vay), is an Icelandic 24 year old singer-songwriter who has been producing music since 2020. Citing classical and jazz music as her main influence, her music stands out in an era where those genres are less popular.

She did not decide to create this style of music on a whim, instead it was something she had grown up with. Both her mother and grandfather played the violin as their career, influencing Laufey to play music from a young age. The time she spent perfecting her musical abilities paid off even in adolescence, as at age 15, her cello skills landed her a spot in the final round of Ísland Got Talent, and was even invited to play cello for the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra.

Instead of attempting to catch the wave of current pop music, Laufey decided to stick to what she has done since childhood, and it has worked out very well for her. Following the release of her first song, “Street by Street”, in April of 2020, she released her first EP the next year. Titled “Typical of Me”, it received praise from big names like Willow Smith, Billie Eilish and even Rolling Stone.

“It’s very calming and relaxing for me,” senior Barbara Peregrina-Rodriguez said. “I unironically use it to go to sleep.”

Five months after appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live as a musical guest, Laufey released her first album “Everything I Know About Love”on Aug. 26, 2022. Much like the release of “Typical of Me”, the album received a large amount of critical acclaim.

It was not long before she began to work on new music, announcing in early 2023 that her second album was in development. A month later on May 11, 2023, she released what is now her most popular song, “From the Start”. The song flooded social media like TikTok, trending almost instantly. Three more songs from the album—”Promise”, “California and Me”, and “Bewitched”— released throughout the year until her second album, titled “Bewitched”, finally released on Sept. 8, 2023.

While retaining the classical and jazz elements of her earlier work in songs like “Dreamer” and “Misty”, songs such as “Letter to My 13 Year Old Self” and “Serendipity” taking a much more somber tone.

“I think her music definitely evolved to represent herself more,” Peregrina-Rodriguez said.

Unsurprisingly, this album was praised upon its release by fans and critics alike. At the end of 2023, the album landed at number 46 on Billboard’s “Best Albums of 2023” chart, and even ended up winning the Grammy for Best Traditional Vocal Pop Album.

On top of winning, the Grammys gave Laufey the opportunity to perform not once, but twice—she was invited to perform at the Premiere Ceremony, where she serenaded the crowd with “From the Start”, and was also given the opportunity to play cello for legendary musician Billy Joel during his closing performance.

It is clear that the world loves Laufey. News outlets and fans alike have stated that she is “bringing back jazz”, insinuating that it has been gone for some time. Sophomore Agnes Albert gave her take on this.

“I think that she takes classical jazz and adds to it, making it her own and new and fun. Her jazz is geared towards a different audience than what jazz used to be, but still has elements that people know and love,” Albert said. “I don’t think jazz was ever “dead”, there’s just a very specific audience for it, and most people aren’t making music like they used to. She’s repopularizing jazz as we know it with her own twist, and making it ‘Laufey jazz’ instead of just ‘jazz jazz’.”

Despite how rapidly it may seem the music industry is changing, Laufey is able to continue making the music she loves. With a deluxe edition of her Grammy-winning album slated for release next month, it is clear that she’s not done bewitching her fans just yet.

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