‘Even Cute Babies Will Bite When Provoked’: Icelandic Popular Music and the Rise of the Krútt
Þorbjörg Daphne Hall [+]
Iceland Academy of the Arts
This chapter focuses on a specific genre of Icelandic popular music, which can be categorised as indie rock/pop, and which within Icelandic discourse received the label ‘krútt’ (ie. cute, twee). The musicians and bands most often associated with the term include Sigur Rós, Amiina, Seabear, Emilíana Torrini, Skakkamanage, Benni Hemm Hemm, Ólöf Arnalds, Borko, Rúnk and Mugison. Even though musicians are the most prominent members of this categorisation the label has also appeared in discourse around visual arts (Proppé, 2005) and even in titles of exhibitions (‘Krútt and Lorna,’ 2013). The term first appeared in 2002 and has been attributed to the writer Gerður Kristný Guðjónsdóttir, who saw the emergence of a new group of artists who deployed cute personas and ‘publicly appeared as they still ate sand’ (Guðjónsdóttir quoted in Arnsteinsson, 2007). It seems as if the term describes not only a certain musical genre but a group of young people, then in their 20s, who had several things in common, but some see the term as describing musical and artistic practices which feel particularly ‘Icelandic’ (Proppé, 2005). A journalist for the Guardian who visited Iceland in 2008 regarded krútt as ‘eco-aware, earnest but pampered’ (McVeigh, 2008). In 2007 and 2008 the term and its definition became a controversial issue in Iceland and several articles appeared in newspapers announcing the death of krútt, either defending or contesting the term or celebrating its ideology.