Sigur Ros: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Facts
Eligible Since: 2023
Grammy Awards/Nominations: 0/1
Career Top 40 Hits: 0
Essential Tracks: Svefn-g-englar, Ný batterí, Vaka, Samskeyti, Njósnavélin, Popplagið, Glósóli, Hoppípolla, Sæglópur, Gobbledigook, Inní mér syngur vitleysingur, Brennisteinn, Ísjaki
Essential Albums: Ágætis byrjun (1999), ( ) (2002), Takk… (2005), Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (2008)
The Icelandic weirdos known as Sigur Ros have put together an impressive career since arriving in the late ’90s with an acclaimed brand of rock music featuring strings, piano, crashing drums, and the enthralling voice of singer Jonsi.
Their music has been featured in countless movies and tv shows. There’s no mistaking a Sigur Ros song – their sound is so unique that you know it when you hear it.
Sigur Ros don’t have the name recognition in America that many popular rock bands can claim. But is it possible this wonderful group of oddballs could be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame someday?
Sigur Ros Rock Hall Credentials
Maybe I’m biased, as someone who’s been a huge Sigur Ros fan for years. But it’s crazy to me that Sigur Ros haven’t entered the RNR Hall conversation. They pretty much invented their own genre. How many bands in the 21st century can say they invented a genre?
Ok, “invented” may be an exaggeration. Their dreamy, ethereal sound was built on post-rock, new age, and other styles, but it turned into their own signature sound. A small number of contemporary bands, like Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky, do make similar music, but none do it with the same commercial or critical success as the guys from Reykjavik.
Sigur Ros became known for building long tracks, usually 7 minutes or more, with quiet valleys and majestic musical peaks.
Many of their best songs start softly, with just piano and voice, and then slowly build until a dramatic climax and explosion of drums, strings, and/or guitars. This pattern played out in tracks like “Ny batteri,” “Glosoli,” “Saeglopur,” and several more of their most well-known recordings.
Their lyrics were unintelligible to English-speaking listeners, because the words were in Icelandic or, in some cases, complete gibberish. But the words didn’t matter. Jonsi’s falsetto was merely another instrument, another layer of color and depth in the soundscape.
Their debut album Ágætis byrjun earned massive critical acclaim, putting them on the radar of tastemakers like Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, and the Village Voice.
Their second album, titled ( ) – yes, that’s a set of parentheses – was gloriously pretentious. None of the eight songs had titles. The liner notes for the CD had no words whatsoever anywhere in the booklet. The pages just depicted artwork showing a vaguely icy landscape.
Tracks 1 and 4 became fan favorites. Track 3 was featured in a number of movies. Track 8 became a live staple, as its eventual eruption of drums and screeching guitars served as a great concert closer. Sigur Ros made their first U.S. tv appearances around this time, playing Track #1, which came to be known as “Vaka,” on Carson Daly.
Their third album Takk… gave them perhaps their biggest entry into the mainstream, thanks to the epic “Hoppipolla.”
“Hoppipolla” reached #24 in the UK, making it the band’s biggest worldwide hit. It’s a gorgeously-crafted tune with an epic climax as strings and brass instruments erupt. With such a cinematic vibe, it’s no wonder this song appeared in nature documentaries and several feature films.
In 2008, they went in a completely different direction, releasing Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust, a brilliant record that showed the band could write insanely catchy three-minute pop songs.
Lead single “Gobbledigook” was a joyous, infectious number that should’ve been a big hit, but it was once again relegated to the cool indie rock best-of lists.
As Sigur Ros songs tend to be dramatic, emotional, and complex, their music has appeared in a bevy of movies and tv shows over the past two decades, including Black Mirror, Mysterious Skin, Vanilla Sky, Game of Thrones, and many more.
Their most noteworthy appearance may have been when the group appeared as themselves in a 2013 episode of the Simpsons. The group even re-worked the show’s opening theme in their own style.
As a foursome, Sigur Ros were great in the live setting. Jonsi occasionally played the guitar with a violin bow. Bassist Georg Holm sometimes played the bass with a drum stick. They would create beautiful quiet moments and towering bursts of rage when the drums and electric guitars kicked in together.
Influence is a major factor in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame consideration. Sigur Ros can rightly claim to have inspired a good number of pop and rock artists with their ethereal sound. Matthew Healy of the 1975 is among those who’ve directly cited Sigur Ros as an influence.
The Case Against Sigur Ros
By typical Rock Hall standards, Sigur Ros definitely did not have a great deal of commercial success. The group never appeared on the Hot 100 singles chart in the U.S. They did reach the Top 30 on the album chart four times, peaking at #7 with 2012’s Valtari, but none of their albums reached Gold certification in the States.
One could argue that the quality of their work has slipped a bit over the years. Their recent comeback effort Atta was well-received by fans, but the slow, atmospheric record lacks the energy and vibrancy of their earlier music.
Though they’ve been mainstays on the indie rock scene and concert festivals, Sigur Ros have never been household names in the U.S. They earned a single Grammy nomination, for Best Alternative Music Album in 2004.
There’s a huge number of people – probably even some Rock Hall voters – who have never heard of the band, or couldn’t name one of their songs. But chances are they’d recognize “Hoppipolla” or a few of the other tracks that have been featured in movies.
Sigur Ros have never appeared on a televised American award show, and made only sporadic appearances on late-night talk shows. While rock critics, hipsters, and indie rock fans have gushed about the band for years, their name recognition among the general public is quite low.
The lack of name recognition also applies to the members of the group. Only diehard Sigur Ros fans can name the band members beyond singer Jonsi Birgisson. Those would be bassist Georg Hólm and keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson, both of whom remain with the group, and drummer Orri Páll Dýrason, who left the group in 2018 after a sexual assault allegation.
Another factor working against them: Their complete lack of songs in English. They have just one (“All Alright”) in the entire Sigur Ros catalogue, though Jonsi released a couple of compelling English-language solo albums.
The Verdict: Will Sigur Ros Ever Get Inducted Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
At this point, no. Rock Hall voters will not consider honoring Sigur Ros. As much as I’d personally like to see the Hall recognize Sigur Ros, don’t expect it to happen.
But there’s still time for the band to continue performing, building its fan base and its legacy. So let’s check in ten years from now, and maybe the band will have a stronger case then.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Sigur Ros
Odds of Getting Inducted Next Year: 0%
Odds of Getting Inducted in the Next Five Years: 1%
Odds of Getting Inducted Eventually: 5%
Do you think Sigur Ros will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame someday? Leave a comment and let us know!
Last Updated on October 12, 2023