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Einar Steinn Valgarðsson
Great Icelandic Songs That Aren't Icelandic
Great Icelandic Songs That Aren't Icelandic

Great Icelandic Songs That Aren't Icelandic

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While Iceland certainly has an abundance of great original music,  (see the section Music of Iceland for example), many songs have been borrowed through the years, as things go, adapted and arranged. Similarly, lyrics have either been translated, adapted or the songs have gotten entirely new lyrics, and may not even have anything to do with the original. 

It might be argued that in order for a cover to be successful, the artist has to put his/her mark on it, ‘make it theirs’ so to speak. This has certainly been common in Iceland, to the point of many Icelanders not being aware of the origins of a foreign song, as the song has been ‘made Icelandic’.

I recently stumbled upon a very enjoyable video on youtube, which the uploader entitles 'My favourite Icelandic songs that aren't Icelandic at all:

This made me think of a few other songs that many may not realise aren’t Icelandic:

Ellý Vilhjálms: Heyr mína bæn VS Gigliola Cinquetti – Non ho letspan class="users-anchor" id="elly-vilhjalms-heyr-mina-baenvs-gigliola-cinquetti-non-ho-let">

Vorkvöld í Reykjavík VS Sjösalavals

‘Nothing is prettier than a spring evening in Reykjavik’. Or was that Sjösala?

Eldgamla Ísafold VS God Save the Queen

Sadly I found no video of this, but will upload if I'll find it. For many years, back in the day, the patriotic verse 'Eldgamla Ísafold' was sung to the tune ' God Save the Queen', and the story goes that it even went so far as being proposed for the Icelandic national anthem. You know, 'cause nothing says Icelandic patriotic fervor quite like the British national anthem.

Bubbi Morthens: Söngurinn um Siggu VS JJ Cale: Drifter's Wife

Bubbi Morthens: Syneta VS Woodie Guthrie: Deportees (performed by Ario Guthrie & Pete Seeger)

Add to this the popular song Álfareiðin ('The Elven Ride'). The poem by one of Iceland's most beloved poets, Jónas Hallgrímsson is actually a translation of a poem by Heinrich Heine, whom Jónas greatly admired. The song is apparently by someone called H. Heide, though I have been unable to find out his full name as of yet or the original title of the song.

If you remember other popular Icelandic songs, that may not commonly be known to be non-Icelandic in their origin, please share in the comment section.