Gay Pride is in Iceland tomorrow – and this is a preface that was completely unnecessary in the Icelandic version; but the king of Gay Pride in Iceland will always be singer Páll Óskar – he uses the name Paul Oscar in English. A unique bundle of musical talent, great singing voice and disarming sincerity and intellect, few people have done more for the LBGTQ+ scene in Iceland.
But he wasn’t always huge. I first remember him in the ’90s, an incredible talent, but he didn’t quite fit in with the music of the day. Nobody was making music like that and nobody seemed to be looking for it. This was the time of the countryside bands in Iceland (now almost extinct, that’s probably a phenomenon worthy of another article) while Paul Oscar‘s music was both more old-fashioned and more modern, he was like an old-fashioned gentleman strutting the streets of Paris in the ’60s – while simultaneously using electro-beats that wouldn’t become mainstream until a decade later. And the queer scene he was certainly a part of was just starting to break into the mainstream at that point.
This ’90s Paul Oscar was fascinating – and it was inexplicable he wasn’t a huge star, despite being well known for sure. He also had the legendary radio show Dr. Love – where people called in with random problems related to their love lives and there has probably never been a more brutally honest radio show on the Icelandic air. Later Paul Oscar claimed that his own personal life was a mess at the time of Dr. Love – but I suspect that just made them better. I mean, how can eternally happy couples understand the mess the rest of us are in?
But as for the music, it proved deceptively simple; Paul Oscar simply stayed loyal to his own music – although of course it evolved – and eventually became fashionable. I don’t think that lasted long though, after that he simply became classic, a living legend.
P.S. Oh, and speaking of legends; the guy introducing, the late Hemmi Gunn, is probably our very own Johnny Carson, the biggest late show host Iceland ever had, not to mention one of it’s best footballers too.
Texti: Ásgeir H Ingólfsson