I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while. I know I might be a little late to the party given that Justin Bieber released his music video filmed in Iceland back in 2015. The thing is, I’m into other types of music, and I didn’t know about the video for a long time. Yes, I live under a rock, and everybody seemed to know but me. Shame on yours truly. But I mean, we can still learn a thing or two about protecting our nature, even if it’s a little delayed. And if someone as famous as Justin Bieber can provide some practical examples, then it’s never too late. Today we will share the top 5 things Justin Bieber did in Iceland that you should avoid.
Does Justin Bieber need an introduction? I don’t think so. But I’ll throw in some facts just in case there is anyone out there who, like myself, lives in a parallel universe. Justin Bieber is a world-famous pop singer, born in London, Ontario, Canada in 1994. As a child, he showed a bit of talent when it came to music. As he grew up, he learned to play the piano, the drums, the guitar, and the trumpet on his own. At the age of 12, he participated in a singing contest where he won second place performing the song “So Sick” by the R&B singer Ne-Yo. His mother soon noticed her son’s talent and decided to record him and upload those videos to YouTube. That was where prominent music and talent manager Scooter Braun discovered him and he became the global music superstar most of us know today.
The Bieber Effect
Every single movement and every little thing he does has an impact on millions of fans around the world. His records have been played worldwide on every radio station, his tours are sold out, and his videos have millions and millions of views. The music video for “I’ll Show You” has even increased already heightened interest in Iceland as a travel destination. And that’s where we got the inspiration for this post. As a disclaimer, I would like to say this is not against Justin Bieber himself. Just like you and I, anyone can make mistakes. The difference is we are not in the spotlight where millions of people pay attention to and attempt to recreate our behavior.
Here are the top 5 things that Justin Bieber did in Iceland that you should avoid. I simply want you to understand why you shouldn’t try to do what the Canadian superstar was probably told to do by people who didn’t know any better.
Justin Bieber’s Video Filmed in Iceland – I’ll Show You
The Canadian performer released this music video at the end of 2015. Locations for the video were Fjaðrárgljúfur and other places in southern Iceland. It has reached more than 438 million views on YouTube. The beauty of the images is absolutely breathtaking. And as a major production, we can delight in knowing how nice the shoot was. No wonder the number of visitors to this canyon increased exponentially after the video came out.
I definitely enjoyed the music video. I always love to see Iceland as a backdrop in movies, TV shows, and music videos. As an Icelander myself, it makes me feel proud. When watching Justin Bieber’s “I’ll Show You”, my delight turned into some cringe-worthy moments during certain scenes and I started to understand why there was so much outrage and controversy. Let’s go into greater detail.
Justin Bieber’s Iceland Mistake #1: Nothing is as Quiet or Calm as it Seems
The video starts and a soft beat comes in. Bieber’s voice is smooth and relaxing. It’s as calm as the nice stroll he appears to be enjoying up on a cliff edge in the very first seconds of his video. The emerald green of the moss offers a stark contrast to the midnight black of the volcanic rocks. A beautiful river flows quietly at the bottom. He’s peacefully looking down from the top of a 30-meter (nearly 100 foot) drop into the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon. What a bucolic landscape, what an idyllic place to be, you may think to yourself. You’re right, it is indeed.
Now, remember that this is a music video and the gorgeous shots are based in fantasy rather than reality. You cannot image how risky, hazardous and unsafe the real situation was. Do not be fooled but the beauty and the calm of the moment. We’ve said it a thousand times, and I’ll say it a thousand more. Iceland is a very, very windy country. The wind can be soft and enjoyable then suddenly it turns into a strong gust that will knock you over. In the blink of an eye, a soft breeze becomes a gale. These severe winds can catch you off guard, wipe you off your feet and make it hard for you to stay standing upright or keep your balance. If I were you, I wouldn’t get so close to the cliff’s edge; it’s quite tight and narrow and easy to fall off of. There is barely enough room for two people.
Justin Bieber’s Iceland Mistake #2: The Country’s Soil is Constantly Shifting
There is another beautiful scene in the video. Justin Bieber is placidly watching over the coastline from Dyrhólaey. That one sent shivers down my spine.
Dyrhólaey is a very touristy area on the southern coast of Iceland. It’s not too far away from the beautiful seaside village of Vík. It’s a 120-meter (394-foot) high natural rock arch. Just like in the video, when the tide is low, you can see the beautiful black sands from its heights. Walking to the edge of the arch, however, is a horrible idea. Not only because of the wind, as we mentioned before, but also because of the continually shifting soil. You could easily slip and fall, and it’s a long way down.
Landslides are a constant in the area. The forces of nature are quite active on the South Coast. The sea is continuously eroding the cliffs, and so is the wind. The Environment Agency of Iceland regularly closes off access to tourists as they cannot always guarantee safety. Justin Bieber probably had experts at his disposal. And a whole staff monitoring his wellbeing while shooting the video. None of us have that. So be safe and stay away from the edge.
Justin Bieber’s Iceland Mistake #3: Waterfalls Are Slippery When Wet
Upon replaying and further analyzing Justin Bieber’s video shot in Iceland, it seems the film crew decided to film some safer scenes. He’s running on meadows, that’s good. During the lovely shots of Seljalandsfoss waterfall, I even think to myself “He was lucky, a sunny day in Iceland! Awesome”. Sadly, it did not take too long until another Iceland travel and tourism faux pas flashed across my screen. In this frame, he is running like a gazelle behind the waterfall — not nice Mr. Bieber, not nice at all.
For those of you don’t know this, Seljalandsfoss waterfall is one of the most beautiful cascades in Iceland. There is a cave behind it so you can walk around to the back and have a different point of view of the falls. Now, keep in mind that there is water splashing everywhere. The ground is muddy, completely soaked or icy (depending on the season), and therefore very slippery. Many tourists take a tumble even while walking carefully here. The chances of encountering harm on this type of slick, uneven surface are even higher when running. Sliding, stumbling and falling into the waterfall area is not the ultimate Icelandic experience. Just use your common sense.
Justin Bieber’s Iceland Mistake #4: Beautiful Things Can Be Life-Threatening
Let’s keep on playing the track. Ok not bad, I kind of like the melody and sweet harmonies. Oh, look! Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon! What a beautiful angle! It’s amazingly shot. Wait…is that Justin Bieber coming out of the freezing waters of the lake in his underwear at minute 2:55? Facepalm.
The fact that you see icebergs floating around the lake and a glacier on the horizon may give you a small clue as to just how cold the water is. The temperature of the lagoon is between 3°C to -3°C (26-37 ºF), and it can take just a couple of minutes of being submerged for you to suffer from hypothermia. It is very dangerous and so harmful it can kill you. And if the literally freezing cold water doesn’t do you in, a rogue iceberg just might. We can only see the tip of the iceberg, but there is much more lying underneath the surface. You could get caught up and trapped in any of its hidden tunnels. Drowning in freezing water and death by iceberg don’t sound so beautiful or appealing now, do they?
Justin Bieber’s Iceland Mistake #5: Causing Irreparable Damage to Volcanic Moss
This article would not be complete if we didn’t talk about Icelandic moss. Oh, Justin! Why? WHY? Or as they say in Mexico, POR QUÉ??? I know that rolling down hills is fun and entertaining (full disclosure: I’ve done it in Austria), just please don’t do it on the moss!
Iceland is known as the Land of Fire and Ice and is the result of volcanic activity. The rocks you see were once lava. The only vegetation that manages to grow on lava rocks and that eventually will turn into soil is special Icelandic moss. It is so fragile that even stepping on it can kill it, causing irreparable damage to Icelandic flora and fauna. It can sometimes grow back, but it takes almost a century to recover. A century! That’s 100 years, people. So please, just stay away from the moss. The damage you cause will remain long after you’ve left our fair shores.
Top 5 Things Justin Bieber Did in Iceland That You Should Avoid
I’m well aware that everything we mentioned looks cool, appealing and all very Instagram friendly for your Iceland camping trip. Plus, Justin Bieber did it, so why shouldn’t you?! But please don’t try to imitate everything the young Canadian singer-songwriter does in his video. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt; he probably was not appropriately informed about proper Iceland travel etiquette. His producers and the director probably just wanted to have an astonishing video with some really cool, unique, fun, interesting footage. But you don’t have a whole crew to protect you. And if you made it to the end of this article, you are now aware of how dangerous and harmful these actions can be. Enjoy Iceland, but please stay off the volcanic moss and away from the icebergs.