“King and Lionheart” by Of Monsters and Men

Of Monsters and Men’s “King and Lionheart” may intentionally read like some sort of fable, but it is actually based on two real-life, contemporary individuals. And that would be lead vocalist Nanna Hilmarsdóttir and her little brother. And as far as the titular characters go, he would be the “king” and she his “lionheart”. Moreover, the sentiment behind the lyrics is premised on the reality of her missing him.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Of Monsters and Men's King and Lionheart at Lyrics.org.


And for the most part the featured narrative appears to be, let’s say relatively-simple to understand. It starts off in the intro with the vocalist being out in the world, and it’s like she’s doing her thing.

But amidst it all she can’t help but think back to the addressee, whom she is separated from. Yet despite them not being together, she takes solace in the fact even though they may not have spent as much time with each other as idealized, at least when they were she “taught him well”. 

So considering that we know this is an older-to-younger sibling relationship, Nanna comes off as the loving sort of big sister, one who is genuinely interested in the proper upbringing of her little bro.

2nd Verse of Narrative

Meanwhile the second verse is a lot more metaphorical than the first. So going a bit out on a limb, what it appears to symbolize is the moment the singer and the addressee parted ways. 

And this is an ample spot in the post to reveal that what actually separated Nanna Hilmarsdóttir from her brother wasn’t her touring lifestyle as a professional musician, as some may presume. Rather as the story goes their parents got divorced, with dad going to live in Canada while mom remained in Iceland. 

So the brother left with the father. And you can imagine how emotionally devastating that must have been on the narrator, having both a parent and a sibling suddenly living half a world away.  But evidently it is the sibling who matters the most to her, since he’s the one getting a shoutout.

And fundamentally, she concludes the second verse by noting that they will remain connected, even if now they are now “far away” from each other.

Choruses of “King and Lionheart”

Then as far as the choruses go, they are premised on an idea like the world being a perilous place. Perhaps due to the fact that she can’t physically protect her brother, Nanna is highly concerned for his wellbeing. 

Then on top of that, as just noted, she recognizes that harrowing challenges are more or less inevitable. She knows that her brother will not be spared the hardships of life “as the world comes to an end”.

But despite not being by his side, she is still dedicated to doing her very best to support him. And that is because he is her “king”. All lyrics considered, that’s another way of saying that she really loves and admires him. And relatedly, she pictures her role in his life as being his “lionheart”. She is his fearless, faithful soldier on the battlefield of the world, so to speak.

Lyrics to "King and Lionheart"

At the end of the day…

So conclusively, what we’re dealing with here is a song of strong love. The relationship between the singer and addressee is never specified in the lyrics. And as such, the narrative therein can be applied to any scenario where we will generally say a female has dedicated herself to protecting a male.

Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir discusses "King and Lionheart"

Facts about “King and Lionheart”

This song was written exclusively by Nanna Hilmarsdóttir. She is one of the two lead vocalists Of Monsters and Men. And she would have been 22 years old when this track came out.

She and her bandmates also collectively co-produced the track. Said crewmates are as follows:

  • co-lead vocalist Ragnar Þórhallsson
  • drummer Arnar Rósenkranz Hilmarsson
  • accordionist Árni Guðjónsson
  • guitarist Brynjar Leifsson
  • bassist Kristján Kristjánsson

This is one of the songs found on “My Head Is an Animal”, the first album which Of Monsters and Men, hailing from Iceland, ever put out. The release date of the track was on 20 September 2011, along with the rest of the project. Then about a year and-a-half later, King and Lionheart came out as the fourth and final single from My Head Is.

The other two co-producers of this song are Aron Arnarsson and Jacquire King.

The directors of this tune’s music video are Mihai Wilson and Marcella Moser, who together are known as WeWereMonkeys.

“King and Lionheart” proved to be the least commercially-viable out of all of singles issued from “My Head Is an Animal”. But as with the other prior three, it was received well in the United States. That is where it appeared on 4 different Billboard charts, faring most impressively on the Adult Alternative Songs listing, where it peaked at number 14.

"King and Lionheart"

“My Head Is an Animal”

“My Head Is an Animal” is the maiden album of the Icelandic rock band, Of Monsters and Men. The album was released in Iceland on the 20th of September 2011 and on the 3rd of April, 2012, on the international front.

Before gaining popularity in the United States and Europe, the album was released under Record Records in Iceland. After gaining substantial success in the U.S however, the group signed with UMG (Universal Music Group).

Its lead single “Little Talks” which was released on December 20, 2011, drove the group to popularity, especially in the United States. The single was widely promoted from July 2011 in Europe and the US and has sold more than a million copies as of this writing.

It was followed by the strategic release of the second single “Dirty Paws” in April of 2012, in Ireland and the United Kingdom. It was a set-up well executed in preparation for the re-release of the album in Europe. The release of “Mountain Squad” in the U.S cemented the album’s commercial success both locally and internationally.

In addition to “King and Lionheart”, three other power singles emerged from the album. They are:

2 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    who was the pink spirit in the music video (like what did that represent, is that her spirit leading the actress to her brother) and why/how did it die? (i saw black smoke carry it? but was that just someone else or something.

    • Anonymous says:

      THATS WHAT I WAS WONDERING!!! (this is why I don’t like that song or the video bc its so sad, and it reminds me of getting separated from my parents!!!) I feel bad for the pink spirit bc it looked like the spirit was reaching out to the actress/girl running. (I’ve never really been separated from my parents, but i am so scared they will die.) i never want anything bad to happen to them.

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