November 29, 2022

Top 10 Icelandic Pop Songs with English Lyrics

I absolutely love music. Music is very important in my life. Popular music from 1945 to 2022 appeals to me the most. I consider myself an omnivore of popular music. But I’m not going to go on and on about my love of music; instead, I’m going to tell you about some Icelandic music that you might enjoy listening to.

When I was a teenager in the 1970s, there was only one government-run radio station in Iceland. There were hour-long radio programs three times a week where you could listen to pop songs. One program was dedicated to hospital patients, another to sailors, and the third was dedicated to young people. The number of programs increased as the decade progressed. Pop music was heard more frequently than before.

And what did music-obsessed Icelandic teenagers do when they couldn’t afford to buy vinyl records or cassettes? They were listening to an American radio station operated by the US military. It had a presence at Keflavik Airport for nearly six decades. This station broadcasts American pop, soul, and country music 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This station influenced my musical tastes, as well as the tastes of many other Icelandic teenagers growing up during those years. It can also be argued that the station had a long-term influence on the development of Icelandic music.

The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service launched a new channel in the 1980s. It was devoted primarily to light programming and popular music. I recall it having a short broadcast time at first. A new law allowing free media was passed in 1986. New radio stations were established. Soon, there was a plethora of stations and channels to choose from. 

Shaped by American and British music, Icelandic musicians tried to make themselves known abroad, and some artists succeeded very well, such as Björk, Sigurrós and Of Monsters and Men. However, Mezzoforte was the first Icelandic band to hit the charts abroad in 1983 with the song “Garden Party.”

I’ve compiled a list of 10 excellent Icelandic pop songs with English lyrics. Some of these songs have gained international acclaim, while others have only gained popularity in Iceland, but they are all very good pop songs that have become deeply embedded in the national psyche. This list reflects my opinion. It is not based on any numerical facts and does not represent the Icelandic people’s opinion.

  1. Little Talks
    Of Monsters and Men
  2. Think About Things
    Daði Freyr
  3. Human Behavior
    Björk
  4. Is It True?
    Yohanna
  5. Garden Party
    Mezzoforte
  6. Birthday
    The Sugarcubes
  7. All out of luck
    Selma Björnsdóttir
  8. It’s oh so quiet
    Björk
  9. Can’t Walk Away
    Herbert Guðmundsson
  10. King and Lionheart
    Of Monsters and Men

How about enjoying the next 40 minutes listening to great Icelandic music?