A Scandinavian Alternative Christmas Playlist
Holiday music from Denmark, Norway and Sweden
Tis the season! And Scandinavia does it well. From festivals of light to delicious dishes to belting out tunes as you dance around the Christmas tree. Jul is cool up here in the north. My holiday tradition is to seek out some new songs to brighten the season. I do love the Christmas classisks by crooners and old school carolers, but will admit I need a little change in music to spice up our seasonal soundtracks. Last year I shared a playlist to warm your cold Scandinavian winter, you can find it here.
This year, let’s throw a Christmas party for the ones we love. And whether that fête features just your family or a full bevy of festively flocked friends, this playlist is built for an evening of fun. The Scandinavian independent music scene is incredibly diverse and inviting. So tune in, turn it up and try some of these new songs for your Christmas season. Light the candles and tap your toes. It’s gonna get hyggeligt up in here. Did I miss a favorite? Check last year’s list, then let me know!
Oh tell me why is Christmas only once a year? We should spread it out a little here and there. We should do a sleigh ride, do a hayride, do it during Gay Pride in July. Oh tell me why!”
– Crying Christmas Day Choir
SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS PARTY STARTERS
CHRISTMAS PARTY | THE SWEPTAWAYS | STOCKHOLM, SE
The Sweptaways are a twenty woman choir that began simply singing pop songs acapella around Stockholm. They now have multiple albums and several collaborations with other Swedish recording artists. “Christmas Party” is a perfect way to start this playlist off right. “Let’s throw a Christmas party for the ones we love.” I’d love to see a pitch-perfect performance of their song “Vintersaga” (later in the playlist) complete with The Sweptaways famous color-coordinated costumes. Come on. Let’s get the party started.
CHRISTMAS DAZE | GLOW KIT | AARHUS, DK
Glow Kit is a garage band pop-rock duo from the Jutland side of Denmark. If this 2015 tune “Christmas Daze” piques your party feet, then definitely go check out their most recent release Pick Your Fights. It’s a little punk, a little pop, plus a splash of John Hughes soundtrack and definitely rocking. And it’s not like much else that you’d hear on Danish Radio, which is kind of why I love it!
I DON’T INTEND TO SPEND CHRISTMAS WITHOUT YOU | THE GARLANDS | STOCKHOLM, SE
The Garlands are a super Swedish indie band and I don’t intend to spend Christmas without this song. Ever again. I’ll want it back, you know it.
ONCE A YEAR | CRYING DAY CARE CHOIR | SE
There are several selections by the Crying Day Care Choir, but this one is probably the catchiest. I completely agree that we should spread Christmas joy throughout the year. Folksy alternative tunes from this Swedish family trio are full of tambourine tapping and quirky lyrics that will have you singing Falalala along.
LADY DECEMBER | THE CONCRETES | STOCKHOLM, SE
Lady December brings the dark, damp and her cloak of snow, but when she sounds like Swedish indie band The Concretes, I am willing to forgive and forget. It’s not a new song, released in 2003, but if you don’t know it by now – see what you’ve been missing.
MEDITATION ONE | MY HEART THE BRAVE | COPENHAGEN, DK
This might be my favorite song on this list. But it’s not very Christmassy Erin. I know. But listen. This is a gift that keeps giving. Layers and layers of sound and beautiful subdued melody. Go to their Facebook page. I agree with their self-proclaimed genre of epicness and would happily hand over one billion awards. But apparently, they’ve already won them. Award yourself with a listen. I LOVE it. You’re welcome.
BLACK ICE | DELAY TREES | HELSINKI, FI
Not technically Scandinavian, Delay Trees brings some neighborly Nordic noise to our Scandi Christmas party. So nice that I chose to add them twice. This song “Black Ice” has a twang and turn of tune that reminds me of folk-rock bands like The Head and The Heart or Blitzen Trapper. Listen to the lyrics, they ring true for me, even if the band has said we’re finished in Finland. Follow their Facebook account to see what develops from band members from now on.
Watch out for the black ice, drive carefully. There are roads you must follow. There are roads that you must leave.”
– Black Ice, Delay Trees
ÅRETS BESTE FEST | KAJA GUNNUFSEN | ÅS, NO
Kaja Gunnufsen gives us the year’s best fest, a plucky but mature tune that showcases her unique vocals. Younger than her musical maturity misleads, I look forward to following this Norwegian singer-songwriter as she evolves. This song is so lovely, it doesn’t even matter that it is in Norwegian.
WOLF | SKØTT | VIKARBYN, SE
Listening to the glossy voice and polished sound of Skøtt, it’s hard to believe she never heard pop music until her teens growing up in a small village in Sweden where she learned folk music from a young age. Wolf howls winter up north to me. This year you can see Skøtt on tour with Danish pop star Mø, who featured on last year’s Scandi winter playlist.
ON CHRISTMAS NIGHT | NELSON CAN | COPENHAGEN, DK
Breaking news! Stop the presses! Edit the post! New discovery, late addition to the list, but this “On Christmas Night” by Danish girl band Nelson Can will definitely add some Danish December energy to your darkest days. Full of taiko drums, whistles, harmony and wow.
In the North, the sun has gone away. It returns on Christmas day. …In the eyes of every child hides a little piece of the sun… I promise soon the darkness will be long gone.”
– Nelson Can
LIGHT THE LANTERNS | SOFT RIDE | BERGEN, NO
Ask Soft Ride themselves and they’ll tell you that they are an indie-western-soft-psych-pop band from Bergen, Norway. I love Bergen. It’s beautiful. Have you been? I’ve been in the snow and sledded down Mt. Fløyen under starlight. I wish someone had lit lanterns for us! This song is warm and wonderful, perfect for winter.
FEEL LOVE | BODEBRIXEN | AARHUS, DK
Not necessarily a Christmas song per se, this song is my julegave to you. That’s Christmas gift in Danish. It’s hard not to enjoy the infectious energy of Aarhus trio Bodebrixen and to be honest we could all use to feel a little love after this past year. Merry Christmas!
DECEMBER THEME | SATELLITE STORIES | OULO, FI
Another Finnish addition to the festive fun, if you follow European indie music scene, you may have already heard of Satellite Stories, popular beyond Finland’s fair borders. And if this December theme doesn’t have you tapping your toes and bouncing around the room, I’m not sure what will.
MER JUL | ADOLPHSON & FALK | STOCKHOLM & UPPSALA, SE
Now I didn’t promise that all the songs on the playlist would new did I? “Mer Jul” is a Swedish Christmas classic from 1984 and translates to more Christmas! Yes please! Listen in even if you don’t understand Swedish and pay attention to the end and you can pick up a bit of Sweden’s Christmas obsession with Donald Duck.
DANMARK DET ER JUL | NORDSTRØM | DK
And because the Swedes definitely can’t claim all the cheesy holiday carols, let me give you a few Danish delights. Denmark, this is Christmas! Also check out It’s Hard to be a Nissemand, Hvem er du Mon Julemand, Op Til Jul and Julefrokosten. Skål!
REINDEER | THE KNIFE | STOCKHOLM, SE
Dark, brooding and a little bizarre, Reindeer is old school synth-pop Scandi noir. That’s a niche. Look it up. Reminiscent of Iceland’s Björk, this song may not be an instant favorite, but listen again. It gets under your skin, seeps in and you can’t help but follow it to the end.
Reindeer, reindeer, reindeer
I caught one of your horns
And even if it rains here
It’s much worse in the north,”
– Reindeer, The Knife
Time for the Afterglow, Turn the Lights Down Low
You know that time of the party when the food has all been eaten, the toasts have been made, the presents opened and the dancing shoes ditched? The party might be over, but some of you aren’t quite ready to call it a night. These songs are for that. Time for the afterglow. Gather your favorite friends, bring all the candles to the table, sit by the fire or around the tree. You may never want to leave.
OSLO | ANNA OF THE NORTH | GJØVIK & oslo, NO
Anna Lotterup is Anna of the North and I’m smitten with her sound. Hailing from Gjøvik, Norway north of Oslo on the way to Lillehammer, her alternative pop is backed by beautifully raw vocals and a lush 80’s synth beat. She has opened for the likes of Lorde and most recently collaborated with Tyler, the Creator and Frank Ocean on 911/Mr. Lonely. I could stay in her version of Oslo all season.
WINTER OLYMPICS ’94 | TEAM ME | OSLO, NO
Remember the Lillehammer Olympics? The Norwegians do! Not only did they host, but took home the most medals that year. This tune from Team Me takes us all back. No need to speed skate your way into this song, it slides right along nicely.
PEACE AND LOVE | KATHINKA | BERGEN, NO
Moody, a little edgy. Maybe a little of my ’90’s angsty college self is soothed with this number by Kathinka also out of Bergen, Norway. And we all need more peace and love this year.
DRØMTE MIG EN LILLE DRØM | DICTE | GLOSTRUP, DK
Benedicte Westergaard Madsen, also known as Dicte is a popular Danish singer-songwriter who has been performing since the 80’s. Dream me a little dream with this swoony deliciousness.
VELVET | TUSSILAGO | STOCKHOLM, SE
Like a modern Swedish Neil Young with layers of U2, Coldplay and Tame Impala, this nugget from Tussilago is lush, slow and yummy. Wrap yourself in this velvet this season.
DEAR CHILD | SØREN LØKKE JUUL | COPENHAGEN, DK
There is something at once familiar and completely unique about the sound of Søren Juul. Add some cowbell and maybe it’s Blue Oyster Cultish? Or maybe in the Bon Iver zone? Whatever it is, I love it. Cozy and warm and easy. One more glass of gløgg please, lay another log on the fire. All through the night….
All of this and more on the playlist. Pop over to Spotify and follow along. Even if you don’t have Spotify it’s ok. You can listen for free. Just log in and after a few songs, you may have to listen to an ad. But you can create your own playlists, share songs and connect with friends. We have the no-ads version and link it to our in-house Sonos system. It’s fantastisk. That’s Danish for fantastic. Check it out.
This is my Scandi ear candy gift for you. Did I miss one of your favorites? Or have another indie Scandi band favorite you need to share – PLEASE – I always am looking for new music. Cheers from Copenhagen and happy listening. Get your hygge on. Glædelig Jul to you!
Know someone who might enjoy these tunes? Share it! Spread the peace and love and light the lanterns. Let’s have a Christmas Party for the ones we love!
43 thoughts on “Sample Some Scandi Ear Candy for Your Holiday Hygge”
This is an amazing list. I feel like you are picking up where I left off. Keeps me in the Danish mood.
Happy to hear from a Dane! Glædelig Jul fra København!
Oh, many of these are quite nice! I particularly like Skott! For having never heard pop music until her teens, she sings very beautifully! #FarawayFiles
I know! Amazing right?
Yes I liked Skott too. I usually need to listen to a song a few times to decide if I really like it so I’ll pop back to your playlist later Erin and see if it brings on the hygge! Joyeux noël from the sunny South of France! #farawayfiles
Merci beaucoup Phoebe! Glædelig Jul from Denmark! Mull on the list, it may just grow on you!
Love this! Such a spirited post, and you’re quite the reviewer, have you considered a new career in that, you could! My teen was just telling me that we, as in the world, needs new holiday music! I’m going to share this list with him, and see what he thinks! I recently discovered a new Snow Patrol Christmas song… didn’t even know they did Christmas music! That was a gift! #farawayfiles
Ok that Snow Patrol song is 17 years old – you guys definitely need some new holiday music! ? If he likes that – I’ve got another spotify list of alternative Christmas music from all over the world – they are my new Christmas classics!
Whoops! I guess we are out of the Christmas song loop… have you heard the Killers Christmas album? I know that one isn’t 17 years old… maybe 10?! LOL! We will be listening to your list tonight. thank you!
This is absolutely perfect! Feeling very un-festive here in Bangalore and this is just what I need! #farawayfiles
I’m guessing the white wintery feeling of a Scandinavian Christmas is probably QUITE different from the seasons greetings in Bangalore! Hope there is a little spirit for you in this playlist! Glædelig Jul from Denmark!
Thanks for this – I’m pretty bored of the same old xmas tunes so this is grand! #FarawayFiles
Ha! You’re welcome! I started making a modern mix each year, this is the second Scandi influenced one! Cheers from Copenhagen, Erin
I love Christmas music but I’ll admit, I’m getting a little tired of the same old carols and songs that always play year after year. Maybe I’ll throw in a few of these and see if my family notices. 😉 #farawayfiles
Oooh! Tell me which ones you take a fancy to! Cheers from here!
I l.o.v.e the idea of this post!!! Christmas music is great already but getting to listen to christmas music from around the world is just awesome! Definitely adding all those songs to my chrismas spotify list 😀 #FarawayFiles
Yay! Let me know which ones you love! Merry merry from Copenhagen!
I will! Merry Christmas to you too. 🙂
What a fun idea! These songs definitely have a different vibe than our typical Christmas songs in the States. I loved Skott the best! #farawayfiles
Skott seems to be a popular one! Hope you find a few to enjoy! Cheers from Copenhagen.
The Crying Day Care Choir sound quite a lot like Mumford and Sons. It’s interesting that the Swedish bands haven’t automatically added a load of bells and jingles to their Christmas songs like so many British bands do! #Farawayfiles
I love this! Some fab songs – definitely going to be playing these in the lad up to Christmas. Thank you for sharing them! #farawayfiles
Great! Let me know which ones you like!
A bumper list. I got halfway through listening to the tunes but the pasta for tea is cooked now so I must stop and come back later. Lovely to discover different artists! #farawayfiles
I am a traditionalist when it comes to my Christmas music – I must hear Nat King Cole and the crooners at this time of year, but seeing as how I am living in Scandinavia, I am excited to check out these new tunes tomorrow. Thanks for encouraging me to try something new.
No harm in mixing it up!
By the way, and on the note of Christmas music from other lands, did you know that Away in A Manger and Oh Little Town of Bethlehem are sung to completely different melodies in the UK?
YES! That freaked me out at choir – I could NOT get the tune!
Very special list. I didin’t know any of these songs. #Farawayfiles
What a great list! I’m listening to The Sweptaways right now, they’re awesome. I think I’ve found a way to get “12 Days of Christmas” out of my skull, thank you! #FarawayFiles
Happy to help! Although some of these are stuck in my head on repeat!
For the Christmas cake baking 🙂
What a fun post. I really liked The Garland and Crying Day Care Choir. Good to hear some different Christmas tunes #FarawayFiles
The total irony of reading your post right now, is that I’m sitting in a cafe in Seoul, called “Fika Swedish Coffeebreak.” 😉 It seems Scandinavia has made it all the way over to East Asia too. Haha. I should give them your playlist to make it more authentic – cuz right now, they are playing AWFUL K-pop. 😉 #farawayfiles
Since last week, I started to be envious about all the Christmas markets and traditions in Europe. Seems like there is a party atmosphere everywhere. Because of you, I have an idea of how the festivity is celebrated in Denmark. Hope you have a fantastic time with your family and friend. Well, I know you guys are going to have great music! #FarawayFiles
How cool… Who knew a song list could look so attractive? Such diverse graphics on the music covers. #FarawayFiles
I loved last year’s Christmas music list so really looking forward to this one. We’re still listening to Bing Crosbie in our house!! Keep these Scandi tunes coming. Is this going to be a Christmas tradition for Oregon Girl, Erin? #FarawayFiles
It’s always been a tradition of mine to make a new holiday music mix every year, I used to burn CD’s and give them as gifts, but now with Spotify and other ways to make online playlists – it’s harder to wrap up, but easier to share! So, yes – there will probably be an annual blog tradition now too! Glædelig Jul from Copenhagen Claire!
My aunt was with me when I opened your post, so I asked her to listen to all of the songs and to pick her favourite. She likes the first one which reminded her so much of the movie Pitch Perfect, haha! I kinda like it too 🙂 #FarawayFiles
Fun! Thanks for sharing with her! Cheers from Scandinavia Kat!
My husband and I were just reflecting yesterday that so much of the Christmas music – specifically American Christmas music on the radio – sounds the same and gets annoying rather quickly. Thanks for sharing all this Scandi variety with us! #FarawayFiles
Hope there are some new tunes for your listening pleasure! Happy Christmas from here!
I’m a huge Neil Young fan so Tussilago sounds like it’s right up my alley. Just can’t listen now as my daughter just climbed in bed next to me and don’t want to wake her up – so looking forward to listening tomorrow! #farawayfiles