Mag
Editorial
Merry Christmas, Gleðileg Jól, Buon Natale

Merry Christmas, Gleðileg Jól, Buon Natale

Published December 6, 2013

Love it or hate it, Christmas music is an inseparable part of the holiday season. It serenades listeners far and wide over the airwaves and, more cynically, spurs shoppers in the consumer-driven Christmas creep.

In Iceland, one man in particular is responsible for a great deal of the cheery holiday pop. That man is Iceland’s most prolific pop star Björgvin Halldórsson. Gracing the cover of our annual Christmas issue this year, Björgvin sits at a restaurant in Reykjavík with a plate of pasta in front of him. Pasta, it turns out—or more generally, Italy—has played a role in shaping Iceland’s Christmas.

As the story goes, Björgvin went to Italy on holiday in the ‘80s and fell in love with its culture, its food and… its music. “It was when I was listening to those Italian pop songs on our holidays and watching Sanremo [an Italian song competition] that I started to notice a certain dramatic character in them that reminded me of Christmas music,” he says in our feature interview. “My daughter Svala and I talked about this and felt that all these songs needed were some Christmas bells and new lyrics and they’d suit perfectly as Christmas songs.”

Inspired by his trips, Björgvin commenced transforming a slew of Italian love songs into soon-to-be classic Icelandic Christmas songs. Marcella Bella’s “Dopo La Tempesta” became “Ég hlakka svo til” (“I Can’t Wait”). Ricchi E Poveri’s “Voluez Vous Danser” became “Fyrir Jól” (“Before Christmas”). “Gente di mare,” “Komdu um jólin” (“Come For Christmas”), “Chi Voglio sei tu,” “Þú komst með Jólin til mín” (“You Brought Me Christmas”). “Quanto Di Amo,” “Svona eru Jólin” (“This Is Christmas”). “Ci sara,” “Þú og ég (Jólagjöfin mín í ár)” (“You And Me (My Christmas Present This Year)”). “Gente come noi,” “Þú og ég og jól” (“You And Me And Christmas”). The list goes on.

Now, if your love for Christmas music is being tested with too much “Silent Night” and “”Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” go enjoy these Icelandic varieties and their Italian counterparts on YouTube.

Then turn to page 16 to read “’Tis The Season of Björgvin Halldórsson,” Árni Hjörvar Árnason’s feature interview with the man, who is actually responsible for giving us a lot more than a handful of popular Christmas songs. As Árni writes, “Björgvin is the perpetual patriarch of pop music. Björgvin is our Elvis. He’s our Sinatra. He is our Legend.”


Mag
Editorial
Healing Hands

Healing Hands

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In the above photograph, I am accompanied by one of my favourite people in the world, Dr. Haukur S. Magnússon, my paternal grandfather and my namesake (I had to make sure not to get a doctorate degree, so folks would be able to tell us apart). It was taken a couple of Christmases ago, in-between bouts of us eating, drinking and being merry. What a time we had. Dr. Haukur is 82 years old. He became a doctor in 1961, and spent the brunt of his career working as a General Practitioner, helping thousands of humans overcome illness and injury.

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Editorial
We Care A Lot

We Care A Lot

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Hey, check out the above photo. Who are those people? I’ll tell you: I’m in there, along with our designer Hrefna, along with our former interns Parker and Rebecca (currently visiting from abroad to do some writing), along with our current interns Tom and Saskia and Elín and Melissa, along with our listings editor Gabríel, along with our journalist John, along with the ghost of what should’ve been (always lurking in the background, him). Behind the camera is the lovely photographer Matt Eisman, who set up shop at our office over Airwaves, where he’ll be shooting some of our favourite

Mag
Editorial
So Long, And Thanks For All The Cheese!

So Long, And Thanks For All The Cheese!

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For someone who is used to having an entire aisle at their disposal when they run out of toothpaste, Icelandic grocery stores can seem, shall we say, a little mundane. Of course when it comes to toothpaste, all that choice is perhaps excessive. Ever since I started spending considerable amounts of time in Iceland, this ‘paradox of choice,’ and what it might mean, has been on my mind. As I noted in my 27th editorial a few years back: there’s Crest, there’s Colgate, there’s All-Natural, there’s Aquafresh, there’s Arm & Hammer, there’s Oral B, there’s Sensodyne, there’s Mentadent. There’s gel.

Mag
Editorial
You Probably Just Want To Read About The Eruption, Huh?

You Probably Just Want To Read About The Eruption, Huh?

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The biggest news from Iceland these days is undoubtedly the eruption. Of course it’s not everyday that a volcano erupts. But it’s hardly a once-in-a-lifetime event either. Holuhraun is actually the fourth Icelandic volcano to erupt in the last four years, and it’s been hurling lava for nearly a month now. Sprawled across three seats on a half-empty flight back to Iceland shortly after the latest eruption began, I found myself wondering if it was an unusually slow day for travel or if the eruption was scaring people off. The Eyjafjallajökull eruption certainly showed the world that our volcanoes are

Mag
Editorial
Halló, I’m Back!

Halló, I’m Back!

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I went on a vacation last month. It was wonderful. I left the country. I spent very little time sitting behind a computer. I stopped following Icelandic news. I browsed our website and Facebook a few times. It was really wonderful. I tuned out (and all but turned on, tuned in, dropped out). To say that nothing much happened while I was gone would be an understatement. The Icelandic media seems to be in shambles (turn to page 16 for the scoop on that). The office ate Thai food last print week (we usually subsist on burgers and pizza). They

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Editorial
Free Pink Street Boys Album! Free Editorial! Free Love!

Free Pink Street Boys Album! Free Editorial! Free Love!

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Here is a short editorial, inspired by the late, great Bill Gates and his vision, which continues to warm our hearts and our thighs through our pockets, via sturdy, glowing Gorilla Glass: Here’s to the volcanos. The eruptions. The shaking moneymakers. The ones who remind the world that, yes, we exist. While some may see them as extremely dangerous and not to be trifled with, we see them as tremendous opportunities for market expansion, advanced brand awareness building and vast merchandizing profits. Because the people who are arrogant enough to shamelessly exploit potentially catastrophic events, are the ones who make bank.

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