Table of Contents

Born as Páll Óskar Hjálmtýsson in Reykjavik, Iceland on 16 March 1970. Known internationally as Paul Oscar, he is an Icelandic pop singer, songwriter and disc jockey.

The youngest of seven children, he displayed artistic talent in drawing, writing fairy tales and singing – his mother had him sing for the women in her sewing club and at family birthday parties. He also spent much time singing in choirs and in media commercials, and recorded his first album at the age of seven. Although Paul Oscar’s family encouraged his musical talent, his parents did not get along with each other, and he was bullied by his schoolmates.

At age 13, he realized that he found men attractive, and came out to his family at 16. In 1990 he won a talent contest for his college; later that year at the time of his graduation, he played Frank-N-Furter to great success in the college’s production of The Rocky Horror Show. Around the same time, he began appearing in drag shows at a notorious Reykjavík nightclub. After the club closed, he became a radio jockey on independent radio station FM 90,9. He also appeared in a film, Svo á jörðu sem á himni (As in Heaven, 1992).

In the summer of 1993, Paul Oscar left Iceland for New York City, where he met fellow Icelanders Jóhann Jóhannsson and Sigurjón Kjartansson who were then on tour with heavy metal band HAM. They helped him release his first album, Stuð (Groove). In October 1993, Paul Oscar started singing with a band called Milljónamæringarnir (The Millionaires), which released the albums Milljón á mann (A Million for Each, 1994), Allur pakkinn (The Whole Lot, 1999) and Þetta er nú meiri vitleysan (This is Completely Foolish, 2001).

The year 1995 saw Paul Oscar make his début as a solo artist. In that year he formed his own recording company, Paul Oscar Productions (P.O.P.) and released an album of ballads entitled Palli which he personally arranged, performed and produced. This album included his version of Feel It. It was the best-selling Icelandic album of 1995. It was followed by his album Seif in 1996.

Paul Oscar was Iceland’s entrant in the annual Eurovision Song Contest in 1997. He performed the song ‘Minn Hinsti Dans’ (‘My Final Dance’), which he co-wrote, backed by four women dressed in latex playing suggestively on a sofa behind him. Although the song only reached 20th place in a field of 25, the daring presentation attracted wide attention, especially amongst gay audiences, and made him known internationally.

Paul Oscar worked with easy-listening group Casino on their album Stereo (1998). He followed this with three albums: the English-language album Deep Inside (1999); and two collaborations with harpist Monika Abendroth, Ef ég sofna ekki (If I Won’t Sleep Tonight, 2001) and Ljósin heima (The Lights at Home, 2003). His musical range spans traditional Icelandic songs, ballads, love songs in the style of Burt Bacharach, disco, house and techno.

He was a judge in the third season of Idol stjörnuleit (Idol Starsearch, 2005), Iceland’s version of the UK reality TV series Pop Idol; and in The X Factor (2006), also modelled on the UK’s The X Factor. In 2002 he appeared as Dr. Love in the teenage movie Gemsar (Made in Iceland). In 2018 he starred in the Borgarleikhúsið production of Rocky Horror Show that set attendance records.

He has a reputation for being brash, even rude, when it comes to discussing gay concerns, especially gay sex. As a gay activist, Paul Oscar helped to organize a Gay Pride Festival in Reykjavík in 2005.


  • Paul Oscar. Wikipedia, retrieved 6 December 2023