Summer is here, and with it comes road trip season. Here’s our essential Icelandic playlist. Roll down the windows, turn up the volume, and off you go.
Buddies and beats
There’s nothing like cruisin’ in the sun with your buddies and some beats. On those days, you gotta set the vibe with Joey Christ’s legendary track “Joey Cypher.” It’s basically a time capsule of Iceland’s legendary 2017 summer, back when times were simpler, Costco was just opening, and Iceland’s rap explosion was in full flow. In three short minutes, Joey cemented himself into the zeitgeist of Icelandic pop history with a chorus that fans and haters alike can recall at a moment’s notice. Warning: this is a serious earworm. If that track wets your whistle, throw on “Tarantúlar” by Úlfur Úlfur to follow. HJC
Sofia Coppola road-movie
There are few Icelandic songs more summery in this life than Prins Póló’s instant classic “Lifið, Ertu að Grínast?” ( “Life, Are You Kidding Me?” in English). Never mind sunny—it’s positively tropical. In fact, despite their kind of world-wise-and-weary quality, there are a bunch of Prins Póló songs that belong on your road trip list—“París Norðursins” for the open road, and “Niðra Strönd” for that riverside barbecue. You’ll want to learn Icelandic just to sing along. I’d also throw in the euphoric, dreamy shoegaze of Oyama’s “The Right Amount” for that Sofia Coppola road-movie quality, and a couple of tracks by Samaris, Sykur, GusGus, Hermigervill, Berndsen and M-Band will keep the mood high. JR
Hay on a tractor
If you ever wanted to hear literally the most Icelandic song ever written, a strong contender for that spot would be Bubbi Morthens’ 1983 ballad “Afgan”. Driven by acoustic guitar, harmonica and voice, the relaxed waltz rhythm of this tune may evoke imagery of being out to sea, or bringing in the hay on the back of a tractor under the summer sun. The lyrics are a bleak portrait of love lost and heartbreak, but the tune is undeniably Icelandic. On a more upbeat note, there’s 200.000 naglbítar (200,000 pliers), who—as the name might suggest—are a rock band. While ‘Vögguvísur fyrir skuggaprins’ (‘Lullabies for the Prince of Darkness’) is their second album, it vastly overshadows the first, including the quintessentially summery “Stopp NR. 7”. AF
Fights, crying and ‘80s vampires
If you’re going with your friends to Flúðir or wherever Icelanders meet to get overly drunk and beat each other up, you need to go native. The first track on the trip has to be Ísbjarnarblús by the legendary Icelandic singer Bubbi Morthens. It’s mandatory to scream your lungs out to the line about a thousand cod on the conveyor belt while you burn through the raining heath. After you arrive in Flúðir, you’ll get into your first fight, and you’ll play “Rómeó og Júlía,” also by Bubbi Morthens, then everybody will be friends again and cry in each other’s arms. When it rains—it always does—you need to play “Mér Finnst Rigningin Góð” (“I Love The Rain!”), from SSSól. But to really get into it, play “Hey Kanína” by Sálin Hans Jóns Míns. When you play this song on a campsite there’s a 50/50 chance that you’ll either attract some aggressive tweakers—there’s always one group roaming around like a band of ‘80s vampires—or you’ll meet your future spouse. Either way, drink some Gull, and leave your tent behind. Who needs it anyway? VG
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