Hum Along: Sigur Ros’ “Hoppípolla” and Slumdog Millionaire

by | Nov 30th, 2008 | 1:39PM | Filed under: Hum Along, Other Bits

My friends know that one of my "endearing" (aka borderline annoying) traits is my fascination (aka obsession) with songs and soundtrack music that spreads, virus-like throughout TV shows, commercials, promos, films, and movie trailers. I could list dozens of examples, but instead maybe one of these days I’ll whip up a Hall of Fame article.

For now, I want to ennoble this Sunday (and wash the wretched taste out of my mouth from Death Racers) with Sigur Rós’ "Hoppípolla," one of my favorite spirits-lifting songs of recent years. It feels like pure, distilled hope and joy, and lately it’s been heard in the second half of the Slumdog Millionaire trailer:

Slumdog Millionaire Trailer


For more on the group, the song, and other places it’s popped up, follow me over the jump.

Sigur Rós is a magnificent Icelandic band whose name means "Victory Rose" and came from the lead singer’s little sister, who was born the day the band was formed. "Hoppípolla" was released in 2005 on the album Takk… and appeared in the Children of Men trailer two years ago. And honestly, at that time I thought it was going to quickly reach a tipping point and start showing up everywhere (you know, like at the end of Grey’s Anatomy):

But in fact, while it is often used in British and European promos, I didn’t hear "Hoppípolla"  anywhere for the next couple years. This year, however, it was used at the end of the film Penelope, which starred Christina Ricci as a girl with a porcine snout. (The scene, with James McAvoy, is available online, but it really is the climactic moment of the film, so I’ll refrain from linking to it.)

With the Slumdog Millionaire trailer, this could be "Hoppípolla" second chance at reaching mainstream awareness in the U.S. (Or rather, increased awareness among music supervisors, so maybe it will end up on Grey’s Anatomy one of these days. At which point it will instantly cease to be cool.)

Not a bad trick for a song that’s in Icelandic. (A previous Sigur Rós album featured songs written entirely in "Hopelandic," a made-up language.) The title means "Jumping into Puddles" and the lyrics are about just that, while the official music video reinforces the theme of eternal childhood play and joy, even in the face of hardship. (The closing lines are:""And I get a nosebleed / But I always get up.")

And then there is this. Enjoy!

Know of other "Hoppípolla" appearances on TV, in films, or in promos? Let’s hear about them!

9 Responses to “Hum Along: Sigur Ros’ “Hoppípolla” and Slumdog Millionaire

  1. Nick
    Posted on December 4, 2008 at 2:52 am

    It is also being used in the trailer for “Earth” a big screen feature length version of the the BBC/Discovery series “Planet Earth” due to be released on Earth Day next year.

  2. E
    Posted on December 4, 2008 at 10:46 am

    I heard Sigur Ros in a video game commercial last night. A quick search revealed that it was the Prince of Persia commercial. Such a great song. Here’s the long version/video game trailer (?), with lots more song:
    Locke, you introduced me to Sigur Ros, and I’m so glad you did — thanks!

  3. Deb
    Posted on December 12, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Sigur Rós make music that’s incredibly well suited to movies–highly emotional, orchestral and absolutely massive in scope. Perhaps even the fact that the lyrics are sung in Icelandic or Hopelandic (not really a made-up language but more like scat singing using Icelandic word fragments) makes the music even more suitable–since most people have no idea what’s being sung, the lyrics can’t interfere with whatever’s on the screen. Saw them for the second time (first time without Amiina) in Montreal in September, absolutely incredible. God bless ‘em for debuting the latest album (which totally kicks, just like the other three) at #5 on the US charts, not bad for such a very unusual band whose music could never be confused with mainstream pop.

  4. Locke Peterseim
    Posted on December 13, 2008 at 4:16 am

    The idea of Sigur Ros doing an entire soundtrack for a film seems so obvious, such a no-brainer it’s a wonder no indie producer has used them yet… in fact, it’s such a perfect idea, it makes me suspect that maybe Sigur Ros themselves have turned down the idea.

  5. rad
    Posted on January 27, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    sigur ros’s fljotavik was the closing song in last week’s episode of private practice. considering they are essentially the same show made by the same people, grey’s anatomy can’t be far behind ….

  6. Locke Peterseim
    Posted on January 27, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Excellent news, Rad. While I’d sooner have weasels gnaw out my innards than watch either PP or G’sA, I admit that getting a song on either is a big boost in recognition. And Sigur Ros definitely deserves a bigger audience–not since “99 Luftballons” has America truly embraced a song sung in another language!
    (Though how long before Gray’s Anatomy is nothing BUT 45 minutes of yearning, soulful montages to earnest singer-songwriter tunes?)

  7. emilyrln
    Posted on February 15, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    Thanks so much for posting this! I recently saw a preview for Earth at the theaters and immediately recognized the artist, but not the song. Then I heard it again in the trailer for Slumdog Millionaire (must see that!), and still didn’t know what song it was!
    Which is pretty pathetic of me, considering I own Takk…
    So yes, than you very much for the info! (And for reminding me that I really wanted to see Children of Men when it came out and never quite managed to. Renting time!)

  8. Locke Peterseim
    Posted on February 16, 2009 at 1:22 am

    You mean I actually provided a useful service, Emily?! Yay!
    I do love it when a piece of music reaches that point where it starts showing up everywhere.
    And your kind response has encouraged me to do more of these Hum Along pieces — I’ve been slacking off on them, and we have a whole new season’s worth of trailers full of good stuff!

  9. Locke Peterseim
    Posted on February 16, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    Oh, I should also add, Emily that by all means catch up with Children of Men — it’s a stunning, powerful film–one of my favorites of the past few years. It can be grim and brutal and even a bit despairing, but it’s so infused with artistry and sure-handed vision that it elevates you cathartically. And it does eventually work its way toward the sense of hope conveyed in the trailer by “Hoppipolla.”