“Icelandic Music for Every Occasion” – A Short Guide to Properly Scoring One’s Life


SKE English

Ideally, a person’s life should be scored, moment by miscellaneous moment, with precisely the right music: Miles Davis for when one sits, cross-legged, contemplating the many mysteries of the universe; King Krule for when one teeters upon some dark London bridge, dreaming of suicide. 

Every song has its occasion, every moment its mood – and the same holds true of Icelandic music, of Icelandic life. 

Hjálmar’s Leiðin okkar allrafor example, is for those rare moments of public violence (don’t let the song’s gentle notes fool you), when one strolls, leisurely – shoulders back, arms relaxed – into the octagonal belly of some beastly metal cage, poised to dissect one’s opponent’s sweaty skin with a pair of sharp knuckles. To play the song on any other occasion is sacrilege.


*The song was once Gunnar Nelson’s Entrance Song in the UFC.

KK and Ellen Kristjáns’ When I Think of Angels is specifically funereal, and to be reserved, exclusively, for creaking pews: when one mourns the passing of some cherished ginger, and weeps quietly along to the songstress’s ethereal notes, hopelessly bereaved. 

*When I think of angels, I think of you /
And you’re flaming red hair, and the things that you do /

Aron Can’s Enginn mórall is to be played on summer nights only, as one swaggers through vermiculate alleyways, reinforced by a gang of tipsy adolescents, steeling oneself against inherited Catholic guilt by intoning the chorus’ secular mantra: Enginn mórall.” Sans pangs of conscience.

Mugison’s Gúanó stelpan is for heartbreak in Ísafjörður, when the serrated western fjords – like some geographical Rorschach – begin to resemble the fractured, saw-tooth remnants of one’s broken heart; and, sitting there – reeking of cigarettes, vodka, and fish – one looks out, forlorn, over the deep inlet of the sea.

Björk’s Oh So Quiet is for romantic redemption – hope reborn; when one vacillates between a state of whispered expectation and resounding, rapturous love, bipolar as the island’s seasons: either kicking the newspaper vending machine with abandon, or hovering slowly above lazy streets.

Words: RTH