Saturday, 22 November 2008

More on the Icelandic Music Scene

Everyone here is a musician, and of course everyone is connected to everyone else. The guy who sat in front of me in the cafeteria today? I'm going to watch a concert with them performing tonight. Your next door neighbour? Björk or the next international export. You might even be able to ask her to play at your next party.

At any night of the week in almost any cafe there's bound to be some form of free live music and it's not the bad stuff that you have to wince and plug your ears to. The city is very musical in this way. There needs to be no reason for live music at a place - it's not a festival, there's no special event. Who needs a pre-packaged Starbucks rotating soundtrack when you have this?

Yes, Canada, Toronto and Montreal especially, have some great exports. The arts and crafts label especially, etc. The difference between here and there is that you wouldn't be able to do the above-mentioned things.

And now as the world is entranced by Sígur Rós, Icelanders are enraptured by one song. "Þú komst við hjartað í mér" (you touched my heart) is the club, radio, and shower-song hit of the month (or year - I haven't been here long enough to know, but ever since Airwaves they've been playing it more and more). Once the song comes on people scream and sing along as if it's an old favourite. It's a cover by the ensemble Hjaltalin that people are really obssessed with. The original was not the most well known song by the disco singer Páll Óskar. Both versions sound alike and different at the same time.

And oh, as much as I think the Icelandic language sounds ugly (sssh don't tell anyone I said that!), I think it's a beautiful language to sing in.

Here is the link for the Páll Óskar version on YouTube:

Here's a live version of the cover by Hjaltalin:

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