The Null Device


Recently, Boing Boing posted a link to a video for an instrumental composition by an Icelandic band named For A Minor Reflection. The music and visuals are much as most people these days would imagine upon hearing the words "Icelandic band"; i.e., it sounds a bit like Sigur Rös. Perhaps more interesting is a comment on the page, by an anonymous Icelander:
Incidentally, in Iceland this style of music is now known as touristcore. That term refers to how it panders to the elves and northern light image promoted by the tourist industry while simultaneously rehashing the twee-drama-romantic music style that broke into the mainstream with Sigur Rós, Múm, Björk a good 12 years ago. People who insist on flogging that horse are forced to make it outside of Iceland as back there they can't be heard over the sound of rolling eyes and despairing moans.

There are 7 comments on "Touristcore":

Posted by: wolfstar Fri Aug 6 21:42:27 2010

That doesn't surprise me at all. I think acts like Steed Lord, Svala, Bjartmar, Hera Björk and Haffi Haff are much more representative of what young Icelanders listen to.

Posted by: acb Sat Aug 7 01:43:40 2010

Wasn't Hera Björk Iceland's Eurovision contender this year? Is she considered a credible artist in Iceland?

Posted by: Jean-Michel Jarry Sun Aug 15 05:58:19 2010

Volcanocore acts like Strætisvagn Empedocles Xenu are the real future of Icelandic music.

Posted by: wolfstar Sat Oct 9 10:08:24 2010

I don't know that she's "credible" (or even to what extent the whole concept of "credible" can be applied outside English-speaking countries), but she's massively popular with the general public and considered Iceland's leading female vocalist within the domestic music industry. Her mother was also a big-name singer. Haffi Haff isn't credible either (or even a good singer - his vocals are all studio-processed and he often struggles to sing live) but his song "Give Me Sexy" was Iceland's biggest selling single of 2009.

Personally, and with regard to my own musical tastes, I consider credible an utterly meaningless concept - it seems to be defined by a (usually rockist/indie) self-appointed pop-cultural elite who see fit to rubber-stamp entire genres and styles as "good" and "bad", then mock, judge and belittle people for liking the wrong things and having "inferior" tastes, as Petridis and his ilk commonly do.

Posted by: acb Sat Oct 9 10:43:40 2010

Interesting; so you'd draw no distinction between, on one hand, Radiohead or Iron Maiden or Wu Tang Clan or The Velvet Underground or Bob Marley and, on the other hand, the musical career of Lindsay Lohan or someone, and regard any such distinction as rockist/indie snobbery?

Posted by: wolfstar_de Sat Oct 9 18:38:18 2010

That's an interesting question. I would make a distinction - not between credible and non-credible, but between artists and performers. The first are all artists who charted their own musical course, whereas Lohan and co. are merely performers who don't write their own songs. The artistry there lies with the songwriters and producers. I know next to nothing about Lindsay Lohan and couldn't name one of her songs, but I'd strongly argue that the songwriters and production houses that write songs for commercial performers deserve to taken seriously and respected musically. My approach is that a good song's a good song and a bad song's a bad song, whether it was written by an independent band or singer-songwriter or crafted to a deadline by some studio mogul sat in Stockholm...

Posted by: Sun Oct 10 13:06:31 2010

What about artists who write their own material, which is massively commercially successful but artistically and culturally insipid? (I.e., Coldplay or Marilyn Manson.)

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