“100 Bestu Plötur Íslandssögunnar” (“100 Best Icelandic Albums”)

I’ve written before about my borderline unhealthy love of lists. I’m always a sucker for any kind of “Best Of,” “Worst Of,” or “Any Other Kind Of Of” lists, whether they be about music, movies, places to see, or ways to fold your laundry. If you can make a list about it, I’ll probably look at it and think about it. Which probably explains why I’m pretty good with spreadsheets. Which happens to be a good thing, since I’m not good at a lot of other things (fixing things, building things, karate….) and our society values spreadsheet skills enough to allow me to pay my bills and go to Iceland at least once per year.

When we were in Reykjavik for Airwaves in 2012 I picked up a nice hardback book called 100 Bestu Plötur Íslandssögunnar, roughly translated to 100 Best Icelandic Albums despite the fact that Google Translate tried to tell me it meant 100 Best Albums Island Story Acid, though that sounds like it would be a pretty cool read too. The book was published in 2009, so it’s relatively current, and it’s well laid out and has tons of pictures. Unfortunately for me, the text is all in Icelandic, and given some of the translations Google has provided over the years it doesn’t seem worth the trouble to try to read it using the translator.

Turns out I have 35 of the Top 100 albums on this list. A few thoughts that put this into perspective for me:

1. I did this same exercise with Rolling Stone’s The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time back in August, and I only had or had heard 27 of its Top 100.
2. I own exactly zero Sigur Rós albums, five of which are among the 100 Bestu Plötur, which is sort of ironic since there are certainly a number of Americans who if they looked at the book would only have those five albums.
3. I found myself being somewhat critical of the book for some of the albums that I felt were deserving, but not included, like Icecross, Ghostigital‘s In Code We Trust, GusgusThis Is Normal, and
XXX Rottweiler Hundar (which, let’s be honest, should be included just for the name alone). Criminal! Sure, XXX Rottweiler Hundar came in at #102 in the abbreviated list of albums from 101-200 (of which I have 16!), but that’s no excuse!

This makes me think I may have crossed over from “fan” to “obsessive” when it comes to Icelandic music (except for Sigur Rós). I mean, I can’t even read this book and I’m taking issue about bands I felt were slighted. I may need help. I may also need more shelving soon if I keep buying vinyl at this rate.

I don’t want to run afoul of any copyrights, and I certain don’t want to ruin it for you, but I will tell you that Sigur Rós’ Ágætis byrjun took the top spot (don’t have it!), and that Björk made the Top 10 twice, with Debut (#6) and Gling-Gló (#7) (have ’em both). And as I previously mentioned, somehow XXX Rottweiler Hundar failed to crack the Top 100 (travesty!).

All kidding aside, 100 Bestu Plötur Íslandssögunnar is a well-put-together book, which devotes two full pages to each album – one with a large image of the front jacket, a smaller image of the back jacket, a song list and credits, and the other with text and photos of the performer(s). The one exception is the Rokk í Reykjavík at #32 (only 32???), which justifiably gets a four page spread. It’s a pretty cool reference for the music junkie who has a (perhaps troubling) interest in the Icelandic scene, at least through 2009.

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