Laufey Sets New Jazz Standard on Spotify

Bewitched / From the Start

Icelandic musician Laufey’s album Bewitched broke Spotify’s jazz streaming record with 5.7 million day-one streams, RÚV reports. The standout track From the Start has also gained viral traction on TikTok.

5.7 million streams on its first day

Icelandic musician Laufey’s new album, Bewitched, has set a record for the most streams in the jazz category on Spotify on its day of release, accumulating 5.7 million streams, RÚV reports. The previous record was held by Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett’s 2021 album Love for Sale, which received 1.1 million streams on its first day.

Bewitched, released by music label AWAL on September 8, is Laufey’s second album. It features the British Philharmonic Orchestra on two of its tracks and consists mostly of original compositions, along with one cover song.

It received a five-star review from NME: “There’s a certain magic in Laufey’s music. Filled with swooning strings and gently sighing backing vocals, her lush offerings can evoke both the Great American Songbook and modern pop greats like Billie Eilish.”

The track From the Start has gained notable attention, particularly on the social media platform TikTok, becoming the most popular song from the album to date.

Speaking to the radio programme Reykjavík síðdegis yesterday, Laufey was overjoyed by the reception: “I strive to focus less on metrics and more on creating the highest quality music possible. Yet, when the album is released and the statistics begin to roll in, it’s always an unexpected delight.”

Human Skull Unearthed in Minister’s Residence

Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Residence of Minister

Human skull fragments were found in the attic of the Prime Minister’s Residence on Tjarnargata during ongoing renovations, Mbl.is reports. Authorities have transferred the bones to the National Museum for analysis, and preliminary investigations suggest no criminal activity is involved.

Analysis conducted by the National Museum

Human skull fragments were discovered last week beneath the attic floor tiles of the Prime Minister’s Residence on Tjarnargata, where renovation work is in progress. Analysis and age determination of the bones are being conducted at the National Museum.

“During the process of removing the attic’s floor tiles and insulation, workers uncovered two fragments of a human skull, reacting with discernible surprise,” Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir stated in an interview with mbl.is yesterday.

“The origin of the skull remains unknown, including its age and how it came to be hidden beneath the floor tiles,” Katrín stated. “Preliminary assessments suggest the bones may have already been old at the time of placement, but conclusive evidence is lacking.”

According to the Prime Minister, law enforcement was notified and the bones were subsequently transferred to the National Museum, where experts are conducting further examinations to determine their age.

Attic seldom accessed

Foot traffic in the residence’s attic is infrequent, Katrín noted, adding that it was not unprecedented for bones to be found in buildings, citing an earlier discovery at a house on Vitastígur. “Nonetheless, such a discovery is quite uncommon,” she added.

As both the Prime Minister and a crime writer, Katrín acknowledged the intriguing nature of the find. “While it presents intriguing story material, my primary role is to ensure its proper investigation, including its historical context,” she noted. She also mentioned that the building has a lengthy history, both in its current location and previously in the Westfjords.

“At present, there’s no indication of anything criminal having occurred,” Katrín stated. “The working hypothesis, pending expert analysis, is that the bones were already aged when placed beneath the floor.”

Recent renovations

Renovation work, including enhanced fire protection measures, recently commenced at the Minister’s Residence. Significant modifications were previously carried out in 1980, and additional upgrades were made toward the end of the 20th century. The recent investment in maintenance work comes as the residence has seen increased use in recent years, particularly for governmental meetings and similar functions.

The minister’s residence in Reykjavík has a storied history, originating as a one-story log house built in 1892 by Norwegian Hans Ellefssen for his whaling station in Önundarfjörður. Sold to Iceland’s first minister, Hannes Hafstein, for a nominal fee, the house was disassembled and moved to Reykjavík in the early 20th century. It served as the official residence for Icelandic prime ministers until the 1940s, with its last occupant being Hermann Jónasson. Over the years, the residence has hosted various dignitaries including David Ben Gurion and Duke Philip of Edinburgh, and has been used for receptions and meetings.

National Gallery Probes Suspected Art Forgeries

Art Museum

About a dozen works of art by famous artists are being examined by the National Gallery of Iceland due to suspicion of forgery, RÚV reports. The museum’s director says the case is devastating and plans to put on an exhibition with fake works.

Similarities to the Big Forgery Case

Approximately a dozen artworks, attributed to eminent Icelandic artists like Kjarval and Ásgrímur Jónsson, are currently under scrutiny at the National Gallery of Iceland due to concerns of potential forgery. The issue was recently highlighted on the Þetta helst podcast on Rás 1, Iceland’s National Broadcaster.

Ólafur Ingi Jónsson, the Conservator of the National Gallery, expressed scepticism about the authenticity of these works, citing similarities to forgeries from the notorious Big Forgery Case (Stóra Málverkafölsunarmálið) that gripped the nation’s attention two decades ago.

Ólafur claimed familiarity with the techniques of the individuals responsible for those forgeries, stating he has regularly encountered similar fakes in recent years. Notably, the works in question have never been the subject of police investigation.

Last year, the gallery received a donation from Þorvaldur Guðmundsson’s private collection, which is often linked to his company, Síld og fiskur. The donation is considered a significant cultural asset, comprising 1,400 works by some of Iceland’s most notable artists. Within this collection, about a dozen works specifically attracted the attention of Conservator Ólafur Ingi, some of which were already flagged as forgeries, with others now under suspicion.

Ingibjörg Jóhannsdóttir, Curator of the National Gallery, described the situation as unfortunate and acknowledged possible links to the Big Forgery Case of years past. She suggested the establishment of a special exhibition focusing on forged artworks to educate the public on recognizing different types of art.

Survey Finds Iceland Priciest for Shoppers

Nettó Hagkaup Bónus Iceland Fjarðarkaup

According to a recent price survey by the Confederation of Icelandic Labour (ASÍ), Iceland is the most expensive supermarket chain in the country. Fjarðarkaup increased prices the least between years, although it is still the cheapest to shop in Bónus.

19% year-on-year increase

According to a recent survey conducted by the Confederation of Icelandic Labour (ASÍ), Iceland ranks as the most expensive supermarket chain in the country. The study, which included eight different supermarkets, was a follow-up to a similar survey carried out in October of the previous year. It showed that Iceland had the highest prices overall and also saw the most significant year-over-year price increase, at over 19%.

Among the surveyed supermarkets, Bónus had the lowest price levels, consistently offering the least expensive products. Fjarðarkaup, meanwhile, registered the smallest annual price increase, averaging about 6.5%.

Heimkaup, which held the distinction of being the most expensive supermarket last year, limited its annual price increase to 8%, moving it to fourth place in the current ranking. Hagkaup and Kjörbúðin are now the second and third most expensive supermarkets, respectively. Following Bónus in affordability are Króna and Nettó, with Fjarðarkaup trailing closely behind as the fourth least expensive option.