I was born and raised in Reykjavík and still live here. As with probably every place where you grow up, it has its share of the good, the bad and the ugly. It is a part of you and always will be.
There will be times where you can‘t wait to get away from it and others where you miss it so much you‘ll think you‘re heart is going to burst.
I thought I‘d share with you seven of my favorite songs about Reykjavík, celebrating the high, the low and the in-betweens.
Björk & KK: Ó borg, mín borg
A beautiful and romantic ode to the city, praising it‘s low houses, lights and streets. It also has the wonderful line about the narrator even kissing the city‘s hard streets ‚ ‘for from them grew my life‘s long dream, one small child, and that was my love‘. This song was originally performed by singer Haukur Morthens. As I didn‘t find an upload of the original, I instead chose to share this great version of the song by Björk and KK.
Ragnar Bjarnason: Vorkvöld í Reykjavík
Technically, this song isn‘t an Icelandic one, but Swedish. However, as Icelanders tend to do with pretty much everything, we‘ve 'made it our own'. The Icelandic lyrics celebrate the beauty of a spring evening in Reykjavík.
Actually the whole of Megas‘s great album Loftmynd is focused on Reykjavík, sort of an ode to it‘s seedier aspects, its underside and outcasts. A sort of a love/hate/mixed feelings-thing. I could really have picked any song of the album, but his song is probably its most famous and may best describe the aforementioned mixture. The brilliant lyrics basically describe first-generation youths of Reykjavik looking for thrills and losing themselves in the city. Note a young Björk and her sister Inga singing the background vocals.
Spilverk þjóðanna: Reykjavík
A witty 70‘s song by the excellent Spilverk þjóðanna with satirical lyrics. The refrain goes ‘they put asphalt / and the city grew / the pay stayed the same / but the rent got higher / Reykjavík, what are you going to be / when you grow up?' There's also a line about the ducks of Reykjavík pond planning on a strike.
Innvortis: Reykjavík er ömurleg
While I love Reykjavík, this song is insanely catchy and has hilarious lyrics, basically describing a frustrating and irritating day and proudly declaring that Reykjavík sucks.
Bubbi Morthens: Reykjavík brennur
I would have loved to share this song, but it seeems to have been removed. Why anyone would want to censor this sort of apocalyptic-doomed generation- vision of Reykjavík, where Bubbi has Reykjavík burning and nuked and both Davíð Oddson, the mayor of the city at the time (later prime minister, head of the federal bank and editor of the Morgunblaðið newspaper) and Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, who was then president of Iceland, swallowing poison is quite beyond me...
This greatest and most punky track by the 80‘s band Vonbrigði was immortalised in Friðrik Þór Friðriksson's great documentary about the punk/new wave scene in Reykjavík, Rokk í Reykjavík. A really catchy song with a good punch, sarcastic lyrics and biting social commentary. 'Oh Reykjavik, oh, Reykjavik with old folks, packed like sardines into the retirement homes...‘ The guy chanting a rhyme at the beginning of the video is Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson, who was head of the Icelandic pagan society, as well as being an excellent poet.
There‘s plenty of other great songs about the many aspects of Reykjavík. Feel free to share some of your favorites in the comments section. And if you haven't visited Reykavík, I recommend you do and find out for yourself. Below are a few tour suggestions.