Laufey: The Hidden Darling of Gen Z

todayJuly 1, 2023 84

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By Michael Ybarra

Music Journalist

Laufey, pronounced Lay-vey, is an Icelandic-born artist who has brought jazz and bossa nova to Generation Z with an orchestral twist. She was inducted into the music industry via TikTok — a common gateway these days — and she has been stealing hearts ever since. The mere 24-year-old has collaborated with the likes of Adam Melchor, and even the Iceland Symphony Orchestra.

I discovered Laufey when she was singing jazz standards,  and when she began to sing it felt like all the air in the room had been sucked into the screen before me. The classics she sang seemed to leap out and transport me to an old-timey movie. Even in her early days of attempting virality, her husky, heady voice was enamoring. With a talent like hers, it did not take long for Gen Z, TikTok’s primary audience, to fully recognize her potential.

Her career began with the popularity of “I Wish You Love” from her EP Typical of Me, a song which borrows themes from the bridge of Dolly Parton’s notorious “I Will Always Love You.” With this song, she won the hearts of millions, and it served as the launching pad for her quick rise to fame. After her performance on Jimmy Kimmel, her name began circling the music industry, and soon her debut album would become, in my opinion, one of the best albums of 2022.

Laufey stands atop a grassy green hill in a flowy white dress
Everything I Know About Love Album Cover

This album, full of sweeping strings, bossa nova beats, and groovy jazz chord progressions, is practically perfect. It delivers songs for hopeless romantics like “Beautiful Stranger,” “Dear Soulmate,” a touching letter to her future partner, “Just Like Chet,” where she finds herself falling too soon and against her best efforts, and the title track “Everything I Know About Love,” but Laufey’s lyricism shines when she dips her toes into the world of introspection.

“Slow Down,” a deluxe track, is a beautiful reminder for listeners who have been pressured to feel like they are running out of time to be successful, to relax and realize it is okay to grow older and wiser, to be content where they are now. This subject is extremely relatable, especially to Gen Z. As pioneers of societal deconstruction, this song brings their previously taboo concerns to the forefront, adding another reason why Laufey is adored by a younger audience.

During down-tempo songs, Laufey seems to be laying right next to you, singing a lullaby, and during moments with full orchestral accompaniment, her voice shines through rather than getting lost. For her first album, it is extremely impressive.

Laufey’s latest releases contain her signature sound, yet they allude to even better creations on the horizon. “From The Start,” the first single from her sophomore album Bewitched, set to be released September 8th, leans on her expertise with up-tempo bossa nova. The song is supposed to resemble an epic confession although the persona Laufey portrays is somewhat flippant and positive the subject loves her back. The “blah blah blahs” in the second verse aid in creating this unserious attitude.

The track list for Bewitched has not yet been released, but it would not be a surprise if the song “Promise” came directly after this hasty confession. As one of her best ballads to date, Laufey’s voice knocks at the door of the listener’s heart and dares the audience to remain composed as she clings to a love that will never work. With beautiful tenderness and ebbs and flows that rival the seven seas, the second single keeps Laufey’s fans in anticipation for the album set to release in three months.

Laufey’s growing popularity is a big deal for the jazz community. She joins Grammy Award Winner Samara Joy in carrying the torch of traditional jazz music and singing into the new decade, and it comes as no surprise that Gen Z is looking for a taste of the past. Old trends such as ‘70s bell bottoms, ’90s JNCO jeans and 2000s digital cameras have returned as mainstream – possibly essential – items. Now it seems music is joining this revolution as Gen Z picks bits and pieces from previous decades to make their very own mark on the present.

It is clear Gen Z has chosen Laufey as their resident jazz superstar, and tickets to her tour are so sought after people have gone as far as to watch her set through cracks in the venue walls. She is set to perform at the Paramount Theatre in Austin on November 10, and I cannot wait to be put under her spell.


Written by: Preethi Mangadu

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