Everyone has come to know the latest Disney classic, Frozen 2, but little did they know that one of the characters in the film, The Voice of the North Wind, has a career and story of their own.
Born and raised in the fjords and mountains of Bergen, Norway, Aurora makes for the perfect haunting voice, calling out Elsa into her next adventure. Wordless, it beckons her throughout the film, and in the sequel’s anthem, “Into the Unknown.” It was immediately nominated for “Best Original Song” in the Oscars shortly after the film’s release.
Originally performed by Idina Menzel, this song has instantly become the perfect sequel to, “Let it Go,” and even mimics some of the themes of the first movie. Amid her isolation, Elsa hears The Voice of the North Wind, sung by Aurora. Elsa at first ignores it, out of fear of causing issues for her people as the new queen. The voice continues to call her, distant and faraway; encouraging Elsa to follow it. She starts singing her way through the dilemma, deciding whether she should keep listening. By the end of the song, she has readied herself and becomes determined to follow the voice. It calls to her throughout the entire movie until she discovers the secrets it holds to offer her. Due to the persistence of The Voice of the North Wind throughout the film, Aurora’s voice becomes more of a character rather than a backup voice in a song. “My character is not human at all. It’s more ancient than humankind and bigger than what people can ever become.”
Aurora also makes an appearance in this year’s Oscars, along with all the other voices of the Elsa’s around the world. However, rather than being showcased at the front of the stage like everyone else, she stands hidden at the back, a small spotlight shining on her when her voice calls out to the other women singing in front of her.
This week, Aurora released her own rendition of “Into the Unknown,” co-produced by her and Magnus Aserud Skylstad. Not only does it sound entirely different from the version that Disney released, it sounds as if The Voice of the North Wind is further brought to life. Much like her original works, its otherworldly nature comes out in the sound of her unique voice, a wide range of pitch, and almost whispered words.
Aurora lures her listeners in with the original motif; the “oohs” at a lower octave, with bass and chimes in the background. She seems to murmur the first few lines, expressing a sense of fear of being called away from her safe space. At first, there is that comfort in the lukewarm and safe. But further along, she battles with herself as she expresses her longing to become something more than she is, a longing to grow and discover parts of herself she doesn’t know.
The unknown is an abstract concept, but we all know it with the way it makes us feel. It can be daunting; dark and vast and full of fog. However, we all feel that sense of calling throughout our lives to feel something more; to become something more. Whether or not we listen to it is a choice of our own.
As the song progresses into the chorus and bridge, Aurora seems to open up, as her voice grows louder and wider. A sense of empowerment fills my bones, and inspiration to break free from my comforts, to bound into the vast forests and seas of my mind, and to discover everything that has not been uncovered before. I long to create and sing and dance and do what makes me feel me again.
Aurora generally has a way with words. Her original work evokes feeling much like what I’ve mentioned before. The fact that she released her own version of this song is fitting; especially with her own spin. In her music, she sucks her listeners into an entire world where all you want to do is what makes you happy, and to share love and happiness with the broken people in the world.
When witnessing her live last February, I was amazed by her; dancing around the stage like an innocent child. She remained bare-footed throughout much of her performance, releasing energy within her that felt pent up for generations. All the pain of years before her she held within her small frame as she beckoned forth love and positivity and release from hurt and anxiety and fear. An artist like her should be showcased. Soft-spoken, arms wide open to express love and gratitude out into the world. Her version of “Into the Unknown” is an emotional and heart-wrenching take on the latest Disney classic.
Along with releasing more music soon, she will be playing in her home country of Norway for many festivals. One of these festivals includes one on my bucket list—Oyafestivalen this August— a five day festival also featuring the reclusive Bon Iver. “I have been making so much music lately,” she says in her latest Instagram post, “and I cannot wait to start shouting it. Crying it. Dancing it. I realize more and more with every day what a force music makes…I am happy to feel that there is so much music in me. And I keep finding new reasons to write. And produce. I cannot wait to show you.”
The Best of Aurora: a playlist on Spotify