Today is the National Day of Greenland, and I thought I would offer something a bit different this time with demonstrating the wonderful world of Greenlandic music!
For those unaware, Greenland has a surprisingly large music scene with many, MANY different styles being encapsulated, not also to mention many other areas of the country as well.
For the past few years as well as for now, Greenlandic-language music remains my absolute favorite, despite the fact that the lyrics can often be difficult to acquire online (although perhaps coming years can definitely change that).
(By the way, if you are reading this and you are from Greenland AND you own any album-booklets from Greenlandic-language albums with song lyrics in them, feel free to post them online somewhere, at Musixmatch or Lyricstranslate or the equivalent, or even in a comment below!
Now, you’ve come here for music, and so it’s music you’re gonna get.
- Sumé – “Where To?”
The classic rock of Greenland seems to have originated with Sumé, back from when the Greenlandic language didn’t undergo its orthography change. Now, the word would be spelled as “Sumi”.
Their songs touch on very important issues related to the various ills that colonialism wrought. Thanks largely to my parents having worked on the Navajo reservation, they told me throughout my life how they experienced this first-hand as far as the native peoples of the Americas are concerned.
Yes, the cover you see here actually sparked controversy by virtue of the fact that it shows an Inuk man having ripped off the arm of a Norse Settler. This song in particular Imigassaq (Firewater), touches on precisely what you would expect.
Greenlandic music has been influenced duly by traditional Inuk beats (some of which can be VERY well hidden), as well as by outside influences from the Anglophone world as well as from Denmark. Many a Greenlandic musician has been influenced by the giants of American and British music.
- Rasmus Lyberth
His prose as well as his lyrics are imbued with an extraordinary sense of spirituality and whenever you take in his texts, you feel as though you are connected to the human spirit as a whole.
Rasmus’s songs reflect on the many sides of the human experience in many emotional registers. Owing to his religious background, there are detectable church-music influences as well as aspects present in prayers and meditations in religions throughout the world.
Here’s a co-production of a song about gladness, bilingual in Greenlandic and Danish, between the legend himself and Lars Lilholt, a giant in his own right as well. Rasmus’ tunes always had a way of letting me embrace my emotions and realize their parts on the great saga that is human existence:
And here’s another one. Don’t lie. You’ve heard this tune before:
And now for something completely different:
Ah, yes, the one that Americans LOVE.
And one of their best-known songs has probably the longest one-word song title known to humanity, “Asaneruleraluttuinarsinnaarpasippakkimmi” (It seems that I’m starting to love you more and more)
Even people who have never heard Greenlandic music before will find something very familiar about SUSSAT’s music, and perhaps it has to do with the autotune, which certainly makes it stand out in your playlist.
And, of course, the Summer Love Anthem that will get stuck in your head for weeks:
Fun fact: John G. Sandgreen, the lead singer of the band, was also featured in Greenland’s first-ever film entirely produced and written by Native Greenlanders, “Hinnarik Sinnattunilu” (Henry and his Dreams). He plays a high-sex-appeal celebrity who goes under the name “MC Qilaat”.
Arguably the best-known band in the country’s history, Nanook’s music echoes what it is to be a Greenlander. The landscapes, the national pride, the sadness of climate change with a hint of hope that maybe, just maybe, it might come together in the end, as well as dozens of songs related to emotional expression, from sadness to excitement to infatuation.
Nanook’s lyrics are literary masterpieces, ones that scholarly works will be written on in times to come. (They are all available with Greenlandic texts and English translations on their Facebook page…look under the photo album section)
October brought forth a fantastic music video featuring their song about the Polar Bear, the Mighty Nanook, who continues to struggle in a land and world of shrinking ice:
And you want another climate change song? Harder to get heavier than what you just saw, but this certainly comes close:
I got introduced to Greenlandic music via the How to Learn Any Language Forum, and from the 1980’s onwards ASUKI (“I Don’t Know”) acquired noteworthy repute:
I can’t help but think of the Beach Boys for a lot of reasons whenever I listen to them.
The Heavy Metal Band bearing the name of the Rhinoceros. Their songs bear the names of various animals and their lyrics are quite puzzling in their content. Their website pretty much stated outright that the lyrics were optimized so as to be irritating to older people.
The story behind the band is related here: http://www.angelfire.com/on/siissisoq/english.htm
And here’s a concert:
And here’s another playlist:
A confession I should make: I’ve probably listened to their first album more often than I have any other album in my life, period.
It’s interesting to note at this juncture that whenever I mention “Greenlandic Music” one of the first questions I get asked is “do they have Heavy Metal?” Well, now you know.
- Nuuk Posse
Named by the UN as Messengers of Truth as well as having their music featured in the French Film “The Voyage to Greenland” (in which Nanook was also featured!), Nuuk Posse still remains Greenland’s trademark Rap group (as far as I’ve heard):
The first Greenlandic Rap certainly sets a good example. Qitik – “Dance”
And now it seems that Greenlandic Music is breaking into new genres with…
- Furos Image / Marc Fussing Rosbach
…video game music!
This piece was used not only in a rough animated trailer for some game concept sketches, but is also going to be the wake-up-in-the-morning and eat-your-breakfast theme in my (our) first video game!
Marc has worked on dozens upon dozens of projects, including his own TV show in which he reviewed video games in Greenlandic, many music videos, short films, as well as his upcoming feature film “Tarratta Nunaanni” (In the Lands of Our Shadows).
With “Kaverini: Nuuk Adventures”, a video game being set in Greenland, fantastic new pieces are in the works, including a not-yet-released piece which is intended for “confrontations” (the closest thing that comes to “combat” in the Kaverini series, where you use your emotional intelligence of different flavors in order to convince bad guys to stop being so mean to you).
That piece (not the one above, mind you) is genuinely one of the most frightening pieces of music I’ve ever heard in my life, and I can’t wait for you to hear it in-game, where I’ve made sure to include it in situations in which it will seem even more frightening. I even almost considered asking Marc to tone it down! (I didn’t, actually, and I’m glad I didn’t).
I can’t wait to see where else Greenlandic music will go! Just whenever I think it can’t possibly get any better I get even more surprised!
Did I leave anyone out? Did I leave YOU out? Feel free to mention any further Greenlandic music suggestions, whether they be individual pieces OR artists, in the comments!