Íslenk Tónlist: Day of Icelandic Music

The powers that be (AKA a slew of Facebook posts by similarly Iceland-obsessed friends) inform me that today is Icelandic Music Day.  I have no idea who began this tradition or for what purpose, but apparently the national radio stations played three songs simultaneously  at 11:15 local time and Icelanders were encouraged to sing along (to one, or two, or all three?  I don’t know).  The three songs were:

I learned (er, attempted to mumble-sing) Á Sprengisandi during our kvöldvaka at Hofsós this summer.  Anyway, Icelandic Music Day seems like a good excuse to celebrate some of my favorite Icelandic artists.  Some are well-known and predictable choices, others (at least I hope) are lesser-known gems:

Of Monsters and Men

We might as well start it off with something highly predictable.  If you haven’t heard about Of Monsters and Men, you have probably been living under a rock (or you are an amenities-shunning, turtle-catching hermit who lives in a shack in the Kentucky backcountry and showers in a barrel of rainwater).  Arguably Iceland’s biggest crossover success since Sigur Rós.  They sing almost entirely in English, but watch or listen to an interview and you’ll know without a doubt that they are Icelandic.  Incidentally, lead singer Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir is my ninth cousin, a fact of which I’m sure she is acutely aware.

Favorite songs: Mountain Sound, Dirty Paws

Links:

Official site

Facebook

Twitter

Ásgeir Trausti

A young, up-and-coming singer-songwriter.  I first heard about him because he performed at A Taste of Iceland in Seattle back in October.  I didn’t get to see him then, but I’ve spent hours listening to his music on YouTube.

Favorite song: Dýrð í dauðaþögn (translates roughly to “Glory in Stillness” or something like that).

Links:

Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

Ylja

A folksy band that I had the pleasure of seeing in concert at the Stúkuhúsið in Patreksfjörður this summer (at least one of the members is from Patró).  Just saw that their single Út is #11 on the RÁS 2 charts.  Til hamingju!

Favorite songs: Dúmdaralara, Á Rauðum Sandi (this one is about Rauðisandur, a beautiful red sand beach near Patró and one of my favorite places in Iceland)

Links:

Facebook

YouTube

Svavar Knútur

A wonderfully friendly and talented fellow who writes his own songs and also brings old Icelandic folk songs to life with new musical settings – basically a troubadour in a lopapeysa.  He played a few songs for the Snorri group and taught us a little about Icelandic music history.

Favorite songs: Yfir hóla og yfir hæðir, While the World Burns (both of which he played for us); Baby Will You Marry Me (a duet with Marketa Irglova, of “Once” fame).

Links:

Official Site

Facebook

Twitter

SoundCloud

Bandcamp

YouTube

Sigur Rós

Goes without saying.

Favorite songs: Inni Mér Syngur Vitleysingur, Hoppipolla

Links:

Official Site

Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

Jónsi

The frontman of Sigur Rós is also a splendid solo artist.

Favorite Songs: Go Do, Sinking Friendships

Links:

Official Site

Facebook

Twitter

There are, of course, many more Icelandic artists of varying fame, but these are my favorites at the moment.  I wrote about Lay Low, Without Gravity, Sykur, and others in this blog post from long ago.

So, reader who may or may not actually exist, did you celebrate Icelandic Music Day?  Do you have a favorite Icelandic artist or song?

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