The Student News Site of Cranford High School


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How Laufey Revived Jazz


An artist on world tour, 13.5 million monthly listeners on Spotify, and 3 million followers on TikTok. It’s hard to imagine those stats belong to Laufey, the Icelandic-Chinese singer who has blown up in recent months. It’s even harder to believe that she makes jazz albums, including standards like Erroll Garner’s 1954 “Misty”. It was no small feat to reach this level of fame so quickly, but Laufey owes as much credit to her songwriting as she does the Internet.

While most artists struggle to utilize the Internet to their advantage, Laufey found fame by interacting with and reacting to fans’ videos. From the start of her career, Laufey found a community through live streaming jazz standards to a few viewers on Instagram. She quickly grew her fanbase to thousands as she uploaded nonstop on TikTok, uploading in the realm of three to five videos every day.

Now, millions of fans scramble for tickets to her tours, which sold out within seconds. It isn’t just her solo career either, as Laufey has collaborated with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Iceland Symphony Orchestra, and, just recently, indie sensation Beabadoobee. Her most recent album, Bewitched, reached 23 on the US Billboard 200 and received critical acclaim upon its release.

It’s difficult to pick just a few songs from Laufey’s catalog, but standouts from Bewitched include “Promise,” “From the Start,” and “Letter to My 13 Year Old Self.” “Promise,” the 9th track on Bewitched, is a down-tempo and ethereal song about saying goodbye to a loved one. Thanks to a softer snare sound and a nearly rubato style of singing, Laufey tugs on listeners’ heartstrings throughout “Promise.” On the other hand, “From the Start” is an upbeat, guitar driven bossa nova inspired by Astrud Gilberto (vocalist for “The Girl From Ipanema”). Featuring a vocalized solo, with licks from Charlie Parker’s “Donna Lee,” “From the Start” is a pleasantly upbeat change from the rest of the album. Finally, “Letter to My 13 Year Old Self” follows a similar pattern to “Promise,” being a slower paced ballad where Laufey reminisces on what she wishes she heard when younger. The second to last track on the album, “Letter to My 13 Year Old Self” introduces the conclusion to Laufey’s story, which comes in the final song, the orchestra propelled, “Bewitched,” where Laufey concludes on her experiences with love.

Angelic and elegant, the star of the album is Laufey’s voice, which rivals that of some of the jazz singers that inspire her: Ella Fitzgerald, Astrud Gilberto, and more. The excellent harmonies, chord progressions, and rhythms are tied together expertly by Laufey’s voice, characterized by a clean vibrato and a deep timbre. For a dying genre, jazz enthusiasts like myself can find solace in knowing that Laufey is doing what she can to keep a love for jazz alive.

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