If I Had a Heart

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"If I Had a Heart"
Single by Fever Ray
from the album Fever Ray
Released 15 December 2008
Format CD single, 7" single, 12" single, digital download
Length 3:50
Label Rabid
Songwriter(s) Fever Ray
Producer(s) Fever Ray, Christoffer Berg
Fever Ray singles chronology
"If I Had a Heart"
"When I Grow Up"
"If I Had a Heart"
"When I Grow Up"
Music video
"If I Had a Heart" on YouTube

"If I Had a Heart" is a song performed, written and produced by Swedish recording artist Fever Ray. It was released as the lead single from her debut self-titled album, Fever Ray (2009), marking Ray's debut single as a solo artist, after her work with previous band, The Knife. The track was first released digitally in Sweden and across Europe on 15 December 2008 by Rabid Records,[1] followed by a digital EP release on 26 January 2009.[2] It was later released on CD, 7" and 12" formats in early 2009.[3] The single's B-side premiered three days prior to the single release on Stereogum and is a remix of the track done by English experimental duo Fuck Buttons, the duo's maiden work as remixers.[4]


The song takes on a generally unconventional, dark and experimental style with its slow tempo, organ backing, repetitive synth beat and distinct vocals. Ray teamed up with long-term production partner Christoffer Berg (well known for his work with The Knife) for the production of "If I Had a Heart". The single, like the rest of the tracks on Ray's debut album, was written by Ray herself. The lyrics were inspired by observation of her young children—a motif evident in the lyrics "Dangling feet from window frame / Will they ever ever reach the floor / More give me more give me more".[5] Also featured on the single is a remix by Stockholm-based techno/electropop artist Familjen.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

The single received universal acclaim from various music critics. Daily Music Guide likened the track to scenes from a film Jim Jarmusch would make, as well as to Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 film Apocalypse Now. Their review went on to describe the song as "dark and hypnotic", and "[taking] an echo of a Native American cry, but still [...] maintaining the song's dark undertone."[6] Mark Pytlik of Pitchfork Media reviewed it as "a shivering, timely meditation on greed, immorality, and lust for power that dovetails nicely with AIG and Madoff."[7] Anthony Balderrama from Consequence of Sound positively opined that "the most notable quality of 'If I Had a Heart' is its similarity to some of the quieter tracks on Silent Shout, particularly 'From Off to On'", whilst describing it as "a four-minute dirge that bemoans inadequacy as much as it professes love."[8] PopMatters's Ian Mathers ranked "If I Had a Heart" among Ray's best work, boasting it as "[marrying her] more introspective side with something like the withdrawn inverse of Silent Shout's low, twinkling throb."[9] Graeme Thomson of The Observer labelled the track as an "ancient shamanic chant piped through an iPhone."[10]

In October 2011, NME placed it at number 145 on its list "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years".[11]

In popular culture[edit]

"If I Had a Heart" is featured in the opening credits sequence of the television series Vikings. The song has also been used in episodes of Breaking Bad, Misfits, Person of Interest, The Following, The Originals, Longmire, Wentworth, Born to Kill, and Black Sails. It was also featured in several films, including Horns,[12] Laurence Anyways, and the short animation Dildoman of the erotic anthology Dirty Diaries. It also appears in the African Kingdoms expansion for Age of Empires II: HD Edition.

Track listings[edit]

iTunes EP
  1. "If I Had a Heart" – 3:48
  2. "If I Had a Heart" (Familjen Remix) – 3:54
  3. "If I Had a Heart" (Fuck Buttons Remix) – 8:26
  • Swedish promo CD single
  1. "If I Had a Heart" – 3:50
  • Swedish 12" single
A. "If I Had a Heart" (Fuck Buttons Remix) – 8:26
B. "If I Had a Heart" (Familjen Remix) – 3:54
  • UK 7" single
A. "If I Had a Heart" (Original Version) – 3:50
B. "If I Had a Heart" (Fuck Buttons Remix) – 8:26


Year Category Genre Recording Result
UK Music Video Awards[13]
2009 Best Indie/Alternative Music Video If I Had a Heart Nominated


  1. ^ "If I Had A Heart – Single by Fever Ray". UK iTunes Store. Apple Inc. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  2. ^ "If I Had a Heart – EP by Fever Ray". UK iTunes Store. Apple Inc. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  3. ^ "Fever Ray – If I Had A Heart at Discogs". Discogs. Retrieved 21 November 2009. 
  4. ^ a b "If I Had a Heart Remix News". feverray.com. Retrieved 21 November 2009. [dead link]
  5. ^ "Fever Ray Biography". feverray.com. Retrieved 21 November 2009. 
  6. ^ "Fever Ray – If I Had A Heart (Rabid Records)". Daily Music Guide. Retrieved 21 November 2009. 
  7. ^ Pytlik, Mark (20 March 2009). "Fever Ray: Fever Ray". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 21 November 2009. 
  8. ^ Balderrama, Anthony (20 January 2009). "Album Review: Fever Ray – Fever Ray". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 21 November 2009. 
  9. ^ Mathers, Ian (26 March 2009). "Fever Ray: Fever Ray". PopMatters. Retrieved 21 November 2009. 
  10. ^ Thomson, Graeme (15 March 2009). "Electronic review: Fever Ray, Fever Ray". The Observer. guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 21 November 2009. 
  11. ^ "150 Best Tracks Of The Past 15 Years". NME.COM. 
  12. ^ "Soundtracks of Horns". Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  13. ^ (2009-09-29). UK Music Video Awards 2009 – the Best Video nominations in full. PromoNews. Retrieved 26 June 2010.

External links[edit]