“We come from the land of the ice and snow/From the midnight sun, where the hot springs flow” Yes, Led Zeppelin were so inspired by the magnificent Icelandic nature that they decided to immortalise it in song. But they weren’t the only ones inspired. Iceland has also inspired local musicians for centuries and Iceland is famous for the sheer output of quality music coming from such a small nation. While some of them, like Björk and Sigur Rós, have become famous internationally we decided to put together the quintessential Icelandic road trip playlist, featuring our favourite artists whose songs perfectly complement your trip around our beautiful country. See the whole playlist here.
Moses Hightower – Bílalest út úr bænum
Here we go! You’ve set off from Reykjavík on your road trip. This song by the jazzy, smooth Moses Hightower is a must listen. Known for their clever and well written lyrics (in Icelandic), the title of this song refers to the traffic you encounter on your way out of town, especially on big travel weekends, like the first weekends in July and August, as well as some sights you might encounter on the way, like the super-chill Icelandic sheep that roam free in summer.
Other Suggestions: Stuðmenn – Tætum og tryllum, Ásgeir Trausti – Sumargestur
Nýdönsk – Frelsið
As you get closer to the famous Golden Circle why not put on some Nýdönsk? This classic Icelandic pop band has had many hits that have become extremely popular in Iceland, but their song Frelsið is one I guarantee every Icelander can at least hum a few bars of. The title means “freedom” and your first stop on the Golden Circle is Thingvellir National Park, where Icelander’s celebrated their independence from Denmark in 1944. There’s a certain kind of freedom in the power of the waterfall Gullfoss and the explosive Geysir hot spring area that the song’s uplifting melody captures.
Other Suggestions: Jet Black Joe – Higher and Higher, FM Belfast – Underwear
Hera – Stúlkan sem starir á hafið
As you head to the magnificent and awe-inspiring south coast this ethereal, plaintive song about the realities of life in a small fishing village is a great reminder of the delicate balance that exists between humans and nature. Written by local folk legend Bubbi, Hera’s pure and soulful voice lends the song a surprising fragility that is a great contrast to the towering waterfalls and glacier you’ll encounter on the South Coast.
Other Suggestions: Of Monsters and Men – Little Talks, EGO – Fjöllin hafa vakað
Skálmöld – Kvaðning
Recently the East Fjords have become a haven for artists of all kinds. The town of Seyðisfjörður has become a sort of an indie-artist village – Brooklyn of the North if you will, but the nearby town of Neskaupsstaður has taken a more hard-core approach. Home of the popular metal festival Eistnaflug, Neskaupstaður has become the Icelandic metal festival. One of the most popular metal bands in Iceland is Skálmöld. Skálmöld’s music is a mixture of traditional Icelandic music and metal and their lyrics draw inspiration from the Norse myths and Icelandic folklore. The perfect backdrop as you drive through the beautiful fjords of East Iceland.
Other Suggestions: Sólstafir – Fjara, Mínus – The long face
Kaleo – Vor í Vaglaskógi
Kaleo have recently become a massive international success, opening for no lesser bands than the Rolling Stones themselves. But before they found fame in the big, wide world they were a hit in Iceland with this cover of a song by the beloved singer Vilhjámur Vilhjálmsson. The story of two lovers in Vaglaskógur in North Iceland, this song a stable during camping trip sing-a-longs.
Other Suggestions: 200.000 Naglbítar – Láttu mig vera, Botnleðja – Hinn óbyggilegi heimur
Mugison – Guano stelpan
Ísafjörður resident Mugison sings about his hometown and his girl in this lovely ballad that captures the slow-paced living in the remote town on the Westfjords, as well as the longing for home you experience when away. Mugison has had a massive influence on the Ísafjörður music scene, not least as one of the founders of the annual free music festival Aldrei fór ég suður. His love for his stunning home is evident in most of his songs and the quality of life and stunning nature there no doubt has influenced his music.
Other Suggestions: Ylja – Á rauðum sandi, Reykjavík! – All those beautiful boys
Óðinn Valdimarsson – Ég er kominn heim
This ode to Iceland by popular 60’s crooner Óðinn Valdimarsson has become the unofficial song of the Icelandic football team after its massive success in the 2016 Euros. It’s now sung after every game by the supporters and proud Icelanders everywhere. The lyrics pay tribute to Icelandic nature, the green fields in summer and the way the sun seems to set the icy glaciers on fire. Snæfellsjökull glacier is one of the most beautiful glaciers in Iceland and it’s said to have mystical powers. Whether those mystical powers have anything to do with the football team’s success I don’t know but singing this song to the glacier can’t hurt!
Other Suggestions: Sigur Rós – Hoppípolla, Megas – Tvær stjörnur
Emmsjé Gauti – Reykjavík
Local rapper Emmsjé Gauti‘s love letter to the capital city was one of the biggest hits of 2016, capturing the ears and hearts of Icelander‘s of all ages, making Emmsjé Gauti a bit of an idol to Icelandic kids, much to his own surprise. But with its catchy beat and anthemic chorus declaring the city “ours” who can blame listeners for bopping along. Also, the perfect song to conclude your road trip around Iceland and getting hyped for city life again, it gives you the perfect taste of Reykjavík’s vibe before you head back home.
Other Suggestions: Sykur – Reykjavík, Friðrik Dór – Fröken Reykjavík