Published December 19, 2013
The holidays can be hard on the ears for most people with a modicum of taste for decent music. It’s a well-known fact that most Icelandic Christmas songs suck pretty hard, but of course there are always some exceptions. We present to you some of those:
1. Alli Rúts – “Grýlupopp”
Alli Rúts was a car dealer who moonlighted as an entertainer in the `70s and in 1972 he recorded a four-song Christmas album. It included a cover of the electronic instrumental song “Popcorn” made famous by Hot Butter that year. He replaces the synthesizer bleeps of the original with a bassoon and melodica and sings some hilarious lyrics about Grýla and Leppalúði buying some popcorn for Christmas.
2. Amaba Dama – “Yo La La”
There’s something wonderful about juxtaposing reggae music that is usually associated with sunny Caribbean beaches with the Disney idea of a white Christmas. Amaba Dama, one of the stalwarts of the Icelandic reggae scene, made this little gem of a Christmas song two years ago and we like it so much that we started blasting it already in the middle of November.
3. Björk – “Jólakötturinn”
“Jólakötturinn” (“The Christmas Cat”) is a beast that, according to Icelandic folklore, eats children who don’t receive new clothes in time for Christmas. The song is Björk’s contribution to the `Hvit Er Í Borg og BÒ’ Christmas compilation, issued on the Hljóðaklettur label in 1987. “Jólakötturinn” is one of few real Icelandic Christmas songs in which the song and lyrics are both performed and written by Icelanders. The lyrics were written by the Icelandic poet Jóhannes úr Kötlum and the song is by Ingibjörg Þorbergs.
4. Bogomil Font – “Hinsegin Jólatré”
Bogomil Font is the crooner alter ego of Sigtryggur Baldursson, former drummer of the Sugarcubes and a whole lot more. In 2006, he teamed up with Stórsveit Reykjavíkur to record `Majones Jól,’ an album full of swing jazz renditions of classic Christmas staples. Our favourite is “Hinsegin Jólatré,” sung from the first person perspective of a gay Christmas tree dreaming of having a disco ball on its point instead of the star.
5. Haukur Morthens – “Aðfangadagskvöld”
“Aðfangadagskvöld” is the opening song of Iceland’s first Christmas LP–`Hátíð í bÒ’ by the late great Haukur Morthens (the Frank Sinatra of Iceland). The album was recorded in Copenhagen with Danish musicians and the Icelandic guitar player Ólafur Gaukur and released two months later in December 1964 by HljóðfÒraverzlun Sigríðar Helgadóttur (HSH).
6. Stafrænn Hákon – “Glussasnjór”
The Icelandic musician Ólafur Jósephsson (Stafrænn Hákon) loves Glussi (Hydraulic fluid) so much that, shortly before Christmas in 2010, he released a Christmas themed album called `Glussajól.’ “Glussasnjór” is Stafrænn Hákon’s take on the Christmas classic “Let It Snow.” He makes the song his own with a beautiful arrangement and very funny lyrics about hydraulic fluid snow, Tony Danza’s chin and many other Christmas-related topics.
We put these songs into a Youtube playlist for you. Find them at our Youtube page.