Continental Drift

continental drift 5/3/23: iceland

Today we are making the trek to Iceland. There will be baseball during drift next week, meaning this is the last episode of continental drift for quite some time. I’m talking about July 19th. I graduate this weekend, and I’d just like to say that if this is my last episode, it’s been a great run. Reviving this show has been truly a pleasure, and I’ve learned so much. Ethnomusicology is so important! (Fear not, Continental Drift will be revived by my friend and collaborator, Carolyne). Find the playlist for this episode here

Iceland is a dual ocean Nordic island country spanning both the North Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic Ocean. It is the most sparsely populated country in Europe, with less than 10 people per square mile. In fact, there are only 8 other countries in the world that are more sparse (can you guess #1? It is Greenland). Their official language is Icelandic, a Germanic language most similar to Norwegian. 

The idea that Iceland was named to discourage settlement on verdant land is a myth. In fact, it was originally named Snæland, or snow land, because it was snowing when Norse settlers first arrived, and then renamed Iceland after viking Flóki Vilgerðarson arrived. 

product — young bjork

Young Bjork

Iceland’s most famous musician is probably Björk. Björk Guðmundsdóttir’s career started when she was just 11 when a recording of her singing at a school recital was broadcast on RUV, then Iceland’s only radio station. Björk has released music as recently as 2022, and is also a climate activist in Iceland. NY’s Museum of Modern Art held a retrospective exhibition dedicated to her in 2015. 

Lots of literature on Icelandic music talk about the “Bjork effect.” This is essentially getting at the public perception of Icelandic music since she became internationally popular, which is one of “eccentricity.” One article said it’s as if Icelandic music says to people, “Come to Iceland. We have elves.”

I’m not going to refute the Björk effect, because I found it to be actually quite relevant.

We’re going to start with classical music. Icelandic classical music is different from other traditions, and other samples I’ve played on drift, because it is distinctly modern. Classical music was late to arrive in Iceland, only taking hold in the late 1800s/early 1900s. The innovation is still happening today, resulting in a robust contemporary classical scene. Lots of it, you will find, is very “Iceland.” I know I keep saying that, but if you don’t know what I mean already, you’re about to. The imagery is very rich. 

From Iceland — Sounds From The Quiet Place: Composer Hafdís Bjarnadóttir  Sees Music In Everything

Hafdís Bjanadótir

Classical segment:
From Beacon to Beacon // Hafdís Bjanadótir (composer, blues guitar), Nordic Affect (Icelandic chamber ensemble)
The Gospel of Mary: Gospel Text II // Hugi Guðmundsson, Aarhus Sinfonietta, Schola Cantorum Reykjavicensis, Hörður Áskelsson
Clean Teeth // Magnús Jóhann (composer, producer, keyboardist), Skúli Sverrisson
Loom – Sunrise Session II // Ólafur Arnalds (composer), Reykjavík Recording Orchestra

Post punk is not a genre I have covered extensively on drift before, but it is such a good one. Post punk emerged in the late 70s from the punk scene. It took a lot of influence from rock, but incorporated elements of funk, electronic, jazz, and even disco. A lot of post punk, like the punk that came before it, was political at heart. Bjork was in a post punk band before the Sugarcubes, Tappi Tíkarrass, which was active from 1981-1983 (post punk’s prime). They certainly weren’t the only ones in Iceland.

Tappi Tíkarrass | Discography | Discogs

Björk (keys) performing with Tappi Tikarrass

Post-punk segment:
Flughoppið // Purrkur Pillnikk (“The Plane Jump”)
I Don’t Like Your Style // Baraflokkurinn (“The Bar Party”)
Autopilot // russian.girls

Þú og ég has been called “the embodiment of disco music in iceland.HLH flokkurinn was dedicated to the 60s, though released music in the late 70s. Interesting, because I consider them to sound a lot like ABBA. 

Sumargleðin was not an actual band but a group of entertainers under the direction of Ragnar Bjarnason. They were very popular among rural Icelandic people, to the extent that people planned their summer vacations with regard to when the Summer Fun Ball was nearby. 

Sumargleðin [1] (1972-86) | Glatkistan


Classic Pop Segment:
Í Reykjavíkurborg // Þú og ég (“In Reykjavik”)
Vertu ekki að plata mig // HLH flokkurinn (“Don’t Be Fooling Me”)
Ég fer í fríið // Sumargleðin (I’m Going on Vacation)

Modern Pop/ Indie Segment:
Stop In the Name of Love // Bang Gang
Random Haiku Generator // Sin Fang, Sóley, Örvar Smárason

continental drift 4/26/23

Hello and welcome back to continental drift! This is my third to last episode, and the second leg of my “farewell tour” of sorts that kicked off in Fiji last week. This week, we are in Mexico! Find the playlist here

The United Mexican States is a country in southern North America bordering the US, the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific Ocean, and Guatemala and Belize. It is the 13th largest country in the world by area and the tenth most populated with its population of 126 million. Mexico is ranked fifth in natural biodiversity: remember #2?

It has no official languages, but does recognize Spanish and 68 amerindian languages in the country. 

Due to its proximity to the US, the prevalence of Spanish speakers in the US, and the inclusion of english in Mexican music, Latin music, much of it from Mexico, is growing faster than the overall US music  market. 

Classical guitar music is a popular genre often associated with Mexico. The classical guitar used in this kind of music is sometimes called a Spanish guitar, and features a wooden instrument with nylon strings, rather than steel strings. These are derived from Spanish vihuela and gittern instruments from the 1400s. 

Work by Mexican artist Maria Medem

Guitarra segment:
Piensa en Mi // Los Poetas De La Guitarra
Esperanza // Hermanos Gutierrez

Bolero is a form of trova music that was created in Cuba in the late 1800s. Lyrically, it draws not from European opera/canzone, but instead romantic folk poetry from Latin America. It quickly spread to the rest of Latin America, including Mexico. Bolero also was part of the latin influence on African rhumba, and was even popular in Vietnam for some time. 

Bolero Mexicano segment:
Candilejas // Trio Delfines
Talisman // Antonio Badu
Espumas // Yolanda Y Su Trio Perla Negra

Mexico is credited by some with introducing brass into jazz music.

Jazz Sample:
Amanceres // Los Músicos De José

Indie music has been blossoming in Mexico, and a growing movement is developing the scene in the Yucatan peninsula. According to Sureste Records president Alejandro Castilla Pinto, “unifying the peninsula is an objective many of us have had for years. There’s Indie Fest out in Campeche and lots of studios and bookers in Cancún and Chetumal, so the idea has always been to create a circuit independent of México City.”

In Caloncho’s album Balsamo he explores music as a mother figure. Composed partially in India, it also takes inspiration from the Dalai Lama’s teachings on positive thinking.

▷ Caloncho | Tickets Concerts and Tours 2023 2024 - Wegow


Indie segment:
Fotosíntesis // Caloncho
Háblame // Chicano Batman, Caloncho
Menta // Melted Ice Cream
Lo que tú me das // Juanpalitochinos
Cuando // Ruzzi

Women are at the forefront of pop and rock music in Mexico today. They are often incorporating “zany satire” in their lyrics, “reinvigorating and expanding the limits of rock ‘n’ roll armed with buzzing guitars, an irreverent sense of humor, and little patience for stale, boy’s club antics.” 

Maria Medem

Misc Modern:
Mis Mejores Poses // EMJA
Chill // Miranda Santizo
Templos // CLUBZ
Cuando // Ruzzi
Mezcal // Nina Dioz, Hispana

continental drift 4/19/23- fiji

Welcome back to continental drift! This week is the start to what is likely to be the last month I will host drift. Kicking off my farewell tour is our first stop, Fiji. Listen to the playlist here

The Republic of Fiji is an island country in Melanesia, a subregion of oceania in the southwestern pacific ocean. Fiji is actually an archipelago containing around 330 islands, of which ⅓ are inhabited. Its main islands are Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, where ~87% of the population lives. That being said, under a million people live in Fiji, and it is the 161st most populated country. It’s official languages are English, Fijian, and Fiji Hindi. The name “Fiji” comes from the name of the main island Viti Levu.

Though Fiji is located in the Melanesian region of oceania, its musical style more closely resembles Polynesian music. Folk music often includes stringed instruments like guitar, ukulele, and mandolin, and also percussion such as lali drums. The lali drum is made of wood and features a slit in the middle. They were traditionally used as a form of communication to announce births, deaths, wars, and other important happenings. 

Wooden lali

The Lali Drum

Meke segment:
Vei Yanu Yanu // Rewasese Entertainment Group
Ni Sa Bula // Rewasese Entertainment Group
Mumu Mai // World Geographic Explorer

Other traditional:
Kauti Au Ena Vakacegu // Vatulawa Trio (city on Vanua levu)
Au Bau Via Talanoa // Naselesele village group (taveuni island)

Just kinda old:
Hey Nice Bola // Vinaka
Isa Lei Toga // Fijian Teachers Choir Association

Pacific music legend Daniel Rae Costello dies | RNZ News

Daniel Rae Costello

Vude is a newer genre out of Fiji that combines elements of disco, folk, meke, rock, reggae, and jazz to create its distinctive sound. 

Daniel Rae Costello had an illustrious career spanning 4 decades 1979-2008. He was not only a singer but also a songwriter, composer, audio engineer, and producer. Laisa Vulakoro is known as the queen of vude. 

Vude segment:
Jungle Walk // Daniel Rae Castillo
E Dua Na Siga // Laisa Vulakoro

Laisa Vulakoro | SpotifyFijian band Nasio Domoni, active since 2005, started in the vude scene before transitioning to more electronic stuff. 

Newer stuff:
Lady Malo // Josateki Wainiqolo
Drau Sa Moce Lei Adi // Simi Rova
Senikakala // Nasio Domoni
Medu Butu // Black Rose
Margeritaville // Daniel Rae Costello

continental drift 4/12/23: lebanon

Continental Drift is proud to take you to Lebanon this week. Find the playlist here

The Lebanese Republic is a country in Western Asia situated between Syria and Israel on the Mediterranean Basin. With an area of just 4,036 sq miles, it is the second smallest country in continental Asia, beating only singapore. The official language of Lebanon is Arabic, though French is also recognized. 

Lebanon was originally part of the Ottoman Empire, and then came under French rule after the Ottoman Empire collapsed in World War I. Lebanon declared independence in 1943. Following World War II, there was an explosion of music and arts culture in the country. 

Elias Rahbani music, videos, stats, and photos | Last.fmElias Rahbani was a musician, composer, songwriter, and TV personality responsible for many of the hits coming out of Lebanon in this period. These songs I’m playing for you are from his first solo album, “Mosaic of the Orient,” released in 1972. Rahbani studied to become a pianist, but upon injuring his right hand at 19, shifted to production. He died in 2021 at age 83 from Covid. 

Elias Rahbani segment:
Sweet Eyes // Elias Rahbani
Leila Leila, Jolie Fille // Elias Rahbani

Up next we have several selections from Habibi Funk Records, which is masterminded by Jannis Sturtz. I’ve featured Habibi before, but only because they’re the best in eclectic sounds from the arab world. The first featured artist here is Issam Hajali, known for jazz funk fusion with a unique arabic sound. He is also the singer and lead composer of Ferkat Al Ard, which we’ll hear from later. This album was recorded in one day in Paris in 1977, when Hajali was away from Lebanon due to political unrest. Less than 100 copies of the tape were made, of which Hajali kept one, which is where the digital versions come from. 

Reviving the forgotten sounds of Lebanese folk legend Roger Fakhr | Middle  East Eye

Roger Fakhr

Habibi Funk Segment:
Yawma Konna // Issam Hajali
Express Line // Rogér Fakhr
Lahnon Lemra’ati Wa Beladi // Ferkat Al Ard
Tayyara Warak // Charif Megarbane

Rogér Fakhr left Lebanon for France at the same time as Issam Hajali, and actually contributed as a musician on the record we just heard from. This was made in the late 70s in Beirut, before he eventually moved to the US. 

Charif Megarbane’s Tayyara Warak is Habibi Funk’s first contemporary release. He describes his music as “Lebrary music,” a Lebanese spin on Italian Library music. He’s made over 80 albums in the past 10 years, releasing only a handful, and often under different names with fake band histories to match. He rejects theoretical knowledge of music, going so far as to deliberately not know the names to chords he plays. “I work better from an abstract manner. I can’t even remember the names of chords, I have no idea what they are called and refuse to learn more because as soon as you start intellectualizing those abstract ideas, you start to corrupt them in a way. Before you turn it into written theory and numbers, and words, sometimes it’s good just to make the music.”

OurStage | Lydia Canaan

Lydia Canaan

Lydia Canaan is often credited as the “first rock star of the middle east.” Indeed, she was the first internationally successful artist from Lebanon. She performed rock music in English during the Lebanese civil war, often in the dangerous parts of the country. She was known for defying tradition, challenging conventions, and reversing gender barriers in Middle Eastern music and culture. Big in the MTV era. She was raised by conservative parents who forbade her from musical training, so she developed the ability to create and retain melodies and lyrics in English from memory. Her break came as a teenager when she joined a metal band as the singer, and then she launched her solo career from there. Eventually, she transitioned to pop music. 

نجوى كرم = Najwa Karam - شمس الغنية = Chams El-Ghinnieh | Releases | DiscogsFemale Pop segment:
Lydia Canaan – Hey Richie
Diamonds not For Me // Khaled, Diana Haddad
My Loved One // Najwa Karam
Aayshalak // Elissa
Get It Right // Yasmine Hamdan

Diana Haddad hit her peak during the late 90s and into the early 2000s. In the middle of her career, she got a degree in computer science. 

Najwa Karam is one of the biggest celebrities in Lebanon, though she began her career as a teacher of Geography and Arabic. She got her break on a TV program “Lebanese Nights,” in which she won the singing competition. Her career took off in the mid 90s. 

Yasmine Hamdan was part of Soap Kills, an influential rock group that was part of rebuilding Lebanon’s music scene after the civil war. Known for underground influence. 

Rap sample:
Njoom ‘Am Te’rab // Fareeq El Atrash

Indie sample:
Bearable Lightness of Being // Sandmoon

Atmospheric Sample:
So long lover // Charbel Haber

the music of sports: sunday special 4/9/23

Continental Drift takes on Sunday Special!

This sunday special explores the music (and a little bit of history) of international sporting competitions! Find the spotify playlist here. All other songs are linked in this post. 

We’re starting with the Olympics. The modern olympics governed by the International Olympic Committee began in 1896 in Athens, Greece. They are held every four years, alternating winter and summer olympics in 2 year periods. Until the 70s and 80s, when eastern bloc countries bent amateur rules, the olympics banned professional athletes outright- training was thought of as cheating. That’s hard to imagine!

Over 200 teams (countries and territories) compete in the olympics each year. The next olympics are the 2024 summer olympics in Paris, France. The olympics are represented by 5 rings: red, yellow, green, blue, black. Every country has at least one of these colors in their flag.

Olympic Games Nutrition in Tokyo 1964

The athlete’s dining hall at the 1964 Olympics

We’ll be starting our journey through the olympics in 1964 with the Tokyo summer olympics. These were the first olympics to be held in Asia, and the first games which excluded South Africa due to their apartheid policies. These were also the first olympics to be televised internationally without the need to ship reels overseas. 

Music critic Kuniharu Akiyma made a commposition entitled “environmental music for dining room of athlete’s village in tokyo 1964” which, as the title indicates, was for the athlete’s village dining room. In addition to this piece, Akiyama created another for the olympics, in the same style: music for resting. It follows after the first of such compositions, music for coffee house.   

Sanukite | LOVE Sanukisan

Sanukite songs

But what is it? These are ambient pieces made entirely of the sounds of sanukite stones. The precursor began in early 1963 when Akiyama was asked to compose “Song of Stone” for a TV progam about Sanuki, Shikoku Island, which is known for granite quarrying. He is quoted, “I was deeply moved when I hit the natural stones of various sizes that had not been modified by artificial elements. Clear beautiful sounds with amazingly long sustain. Each stone had a different tone. Sharp and very powerful. To be honest, I never had thought that stones could have such a beautiful, strong and sharp tone.”

In addition to composing these pieces, he also engineered stone speakers to play them. They were advertised as having a pure sound “because all vibration except for the paper speaker cone can be suppressed to the utmost limit by the weight of the stone.”

Kuniharu Akiyama – Environmental Music for Dining Room of Athletes’ Village in Tokyo Olympics 1964
Helmut Zacharias Orchestra – Tokyo Melody – 1964 45rpm

The first official song of the Olympics was “Bienvenue à Montréal”, performed by 15 year old René Simard for the 1976 Olympics in Montréal.

René Simard Bienvenue à Montréal 1976(first official song)

Calgary 1988 - Team Canada - Official Olympic Team Website

1988 Calgary Winter Olympics

The winter olympics were first held in 1924 in France to showcase winter sports that logistically were not possible in the summer. Until 1994, the winter olympics were held in the same year as the summer olympics. Now, they are staggered. They are more expensive than the summer olympics, costing 1.3 million per athlete on average. In Sochi in 2014, that figure was 7.9 million. 

Calgary, Canada:
Winter games // David Foster

Now we will fast forward 4 years to Barcelona. The 1992 games were the first since the end of the Cold War, and the first to feature South Africa after their 32 year ban due to Apartheid policies. The unified team, made up of former soviet republics, officially won with 45 gold and 112 overall medals. 

Barcelona // Freddie Mercury
Free Your Mind // En Vogue
Anita Baker – How Fast, How Far 

The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia: The bombing of the 1996 Atlanta  Olympics - Southern Torch

Now we get to the 1996 centennial olympics, held right here in atlanta!  The summer olympics will not have been held in North America since until 2028, LA. 

 10, 320 athletes from 197 teams competed in 26 sports, and many of them stayed in the North Avenue apartments that are currently Georgia Tech student housing. The 1996 olympics opening ceremonies were the most watched (3.5 billion viewers) live event until 2022, when the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth overtook it. 

Atlanta Olympics 1996 - Lessons - BlendspaceThese olympics were the debut of volleyball, mountain biking, softball, lightweight rowing, women’s swimming, women’s fencing, team rhythmic gymnastics, and women’s association football (soccer). The US won with 101 total medals, 44 gold, the first time since 1984. Notably, the 1996 olympics turned a profit. 

The 1996 Olympics were the first to broadcast the Olympic Theme, written by John Williams in 1984. It adds on to “Bugler’s Dream,” written in 1958 by Leo Arnaud.

The Olympic Spirit // John Williams, The Boston Pops Orchestra
Bugler’s Dream and Olympic  Fanfare // John Williams, Leo Arnaud, The Boston Pops Orchestra
Reach // Gloria Estefan
Power of the Dream // Celine Dion
Mary J Blige – Everlasting Love (cover of chaka khan)

Taylor Swift’s “Change” was included on 2008 AT&T Team USA soundtrack, as well as Sheryl Crow, Lady Antebellum, Luis Fonsi, etc. These were the most expensive olympics to date (40-44 billion dollars). 

Now we will shift in focus to FIFA. The FIFA world cup is the international soccer competition. The first tournament was held in 1930, and ever since in 4 year periods (except during world war II), in winter olympic years. The games involve a qualification phase, where for the 3 years leading up to the tournament countries play each other to determine who will go to the world cup. Brazil, who has 5 wins, is the only team to have played in every men’s tournament. The 2022 world cup was held in Qatar, and an estimated 1.5 billion watched the final match where Argentina was crowned champions. The next tournament is to be held in the US, Canada, and Mexico in 2026. 

1962 WORLD CUP FINAL: Brazil 3-1 Czechoslovakia - YouTube

1962 World Cup Final

In the 1962 World Cup, Brazil beat Czechoslovakia 3-1 in Santiago to defend their title. The tournament was marred by violence between players on the pitch and a toxic atmosphere; it included the first-round match between Chile and Italy (2–0), which became known as the Battle of Santiago, one of a number of violent matches played throughout the tournament. It was the first World Cup in which the average number of goals per match was less than three (2.78), and this has since been repeated at every World Cup.

1962, Chile
El Rock del Mundial // Los Ramblers, best selling single in chilean history

Pickles dog.jpg


1966, England
World Cup Willie // Lonnie Donegon

England defeated West Germany 4-2.

All 15 African nations who entered the qualifying later boycotted the tournament in protest after FIFA, citing “competitive and logistical issues,” ruled that there would be no direct qualification for any African team. The Jules Rimet trophy was stolen before the tournament, but was recovered by a dog named Pickles four months before the tournament began. This trophy was stolen again in 1983, never to be found. 

1994, The US
Gloryland – Daryl Hall (feat. Sounds Of Blackness)

Brazil wins 3-2 over Italy in penalty shoot out after game went 0-0 in regulation, the only world cup championship to be decided entirely by penalty kicks. 

1998, France
La Copa de la Vida // Ricky Martin

This was the longest world cup tournament, at 32 days. France eventually won 3-0 over brazil. It was also the subject of a terrorism plot from Al-Queda targeting the English football team. 

FIFA World Cup flags

2002, South Korea and Japan
Let’s Get Together Now~KOREA/JAPAN Ver.

This is the last Brazil victory, 2-0 over Germany. In the third place play-off match against South Korea, Turkey won 3–2 and scored the fastest goal in the FIFA World Cup history (10.8 seconds after kick-off).

2006, Germany
Hips Don’t Lie // Shakira

Italy beat France 5-3 after regulation ended 1-1.  The 2006 World Cup is one of the most watched events in television history, with an esimated 26.29 billion views over the entire tournament. 

2010 FIFA World Cup - Wikipedia2010, South Africa
Official anthem:
Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) // Shakira

Coke advertising anthem:
Wavin’ Flag // K’naan

Pepsi advertising anthem:
Oh Africa // Akon

Mascot anthem:
Game On // Pitbull, tkzee, and Dario G

Spain went 1-0 over the Netherlands, becoming the first European nation to win a World Cup hosted outside its home continent: all previous World Cups held outside Europe had been won by South American nations. 

This was also the first time that the hosts had been eliminated in the first stage. New Zealand, with three draws, were the only undefeated team in the tournament, but they were also eliminated in the group stage.

2022, Qatar
Tukoh Taka // Nicki Minaj, Maluma, Myriam Fares

The last two songs are for horse racing and the Masters.

Where the Turf Meets the Surf // Bing Crosby

This song is dedicated entirely to one racetrack — Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in San Diego, California, which Bing Crosby co-founded. It was written in 1938, one year after it opened. 

Augusta //  John Story

Thanks for tuning in!