‘Tis the Season for New to-you Holiday Tunes.
Sharing a few songs for your December from Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
Pour yourself a glass of warm spiced gløgg, light your calendar candle and listen in. It’s December and it is decidedly Jul time in Scandinavia. Here in Denmark, the Danes adore Christmas. Good thing I do too. Part of my tradition at this time of year is to wade through a ton of Christmas tunes seeking and searching for a few new seasonal gems. It’s time for the 4th annual alternative Scandinavian Christmas playlist.
Step away from Wham! And turn down the Mariah. This is a different kind of playlist. With just the right amount of Christmas kitsch, you’ll find a couple cheesy but classic Danish tunes, some swoony Swedish indie folk crooners, a few alt Norwegian singer-songwriters, plus a sprinkle from our Nordic neighbor Finland for good measure. Find the 2019 list along with the others now on Spotify – just search for Oregon Girl Around the World. Or click the links for each year’s list below.
Tunes to Turn on While Decorating Your Own Juletræ
Most Scandinavians don’t decorate their tree until mid-month as it needs to stay fresh and green to safely illuminate all those candles they adorn it with when they hold hands and dance around come Christmas night. While there are requisite and traditional tunes to sing when circumnavigating your own festive firs, no one says you can’t tune in to a few alternative songs all season long. Let’s get this party started.
DINE LEPPER SMAKER JUL | HVITMALT GJERDE | MINDE, BERGEN, NO
Listen to this tasty little number from now-disbanded Norwegian group Hvitmalt Gjerde, which means White Painted Fence, to kick off this season’s Scandi winter sampler. I love the retro rocking guitars in this saucy tune, which makes me want to bust out the white go-go boots. Your lips taste like Christmas. Dine lepper smaker jul.
SNOW IS FALLING | MAGNE FURUHOLMEN | OSLO, NO
You may not recognize the name Magne Furuholmen, but you must know the iconic 80’s synth-pop band A-ha. Magne was the keyboardist and c0-wrote many of the Norwegian band’s iconic hits like “Take on Me.” Don’t lie – you can sing his keyboard part on cue, can’t you? This year, Magne released an entire holiday album called White Xmas Lies which you should check out. I’ve featured two on this year’s list, but like this one best – “Snow is Falling.”
SÅ’ DET JUL | KIM LARSEN | COPENHAGEN, DK
Christmas isn’t Christmas in Denmark without a Kim Larsen tune. Put this on and it’s Jul again in Copenhagen. And Aalborg and Aarhus and Svendborg and Dragør and Ribe – plus plenty more points in between. Yes. It’s in Danish. Don’t try to understand. Just enjoy.
DEEP FOREST GREEN | HUSKY RESCUE | HELSINKI, FI
I shared a tune from Finnish band Husky Rescue last year on my 2018 playlist, but just love their unique and rhythmic, pulsing and dreamy sound. I also love rescued Huskies – so there is that too. With a driving almost melancholic feel, the band’s “folktronica” still feels upbeat with lovely vocals from Swedish singer Johanna Kalén.
WHITE NIGHTS | OH LAND | COPENHAGEN, DK
Nanna Øland Fabricius is the real name of singer, songwriter and composer known as Oh Land, a play on her middle name. Multi-talented Nanna has collaborated with the Danish Queen Margrethe herself helping create original works for the Tivoli Ballet – she as the composer, the Queen as scenographer and costume designer. You can see her performing now as the Snedronnigen, or Snow Queen, playing this winter season at the Tivoli Concert Hall.
SCANDILOVE | IDA MARIA | NENSA & BERGEN, NO
“Can you make love like a Scandinavian?” is the flippant and fun question posed Ida Maria. You can’t help be caught up in her taunting lyrics and upbeat sound. Not all is dark in December up north.
ANORAK CHRISTMAS | SALLY SHAPIRO | GOTHENBURG, SE
HOLIDAY | TAKEN BY TREES | STOCKHOLM, SE
Taken by Trees is the solo project of Victoria Bergsman, formally frontwoman for the Swedish band The Concretes. If you’ve been listening along to previous year’s playlists, you make remember their Christmas classic – Lady December. I love that one. “Holiday” is a little more thoughtful and moody, but equally delicious vocally.
COME ON SANTA | THE RAVEONETTES | COPENHAGEN, DK
Danish Indie-rock duo The Raveonettes are another repeat playlist performer. You may know them from their indie-Christmas classic, The Christmas Song. I love the laid back loungey atmosphere of this song, Come on Santa. Slow, evocative, raw the Raveonettes are at once modern and truly retro.
ELECTRIC CHRISTMAS | SUNTURNS | NO
When Norwegian bands collaborate for Christmas and Christmas only, you get the Sunturns. A little quirky, a little kitsch, but all sorts of seasonal and fun, there are tons of their tunes you can turn on this time of year. I’ve included a couple for you on this list. This one, Electic Christmas, is like an intimate gathering of friends after the party sitting around singing a few last songs before hitting the cold, dark night.
That’s what you get when you teach a Norwegian to play guitar.” – Electric Christmas, Sunturns
WINTER KILLING | STINA NORDENSTAM | STOCKHOLM, SE
You might be able to sniff out Swedish singer-songwriter Stina Nordenstam’s influences when listening to this tune Winter Killing. A bit of Björk, a bit When the dark descends up here in Scandinavia, it can feel like it is killing you sometimes. Stina’s innocent voice has an edge and while this song is from 2004, it is worthy of a wintery reprise. For me holidays bring all the emotions, not just the bright and shiny ones.
OSLO | THE LITTLE HANDS OF ASPHALT | OSLO, NO
While maybe not really about Christmas, when a tune mentions IKEA frames and the lovely, but small Norwegian capital Oslo – it has to make a spot on your playlist. Folksy and sweet, it fits.
I’ll be seeing you around, because Oslo is a small, small town.”
– Oslo, The Little Hands of Asphalt
SILENT NIGHT | JENS LEKMAN & ANNIKA NORLIN | STOCKHOLM, SE
Not your typical Silent night, this beautiful tune tells the story of the song itself. Written as the final piece in a collaboration between the artists Jens Lekman and Annika Norlin where they posted songs all year long as letters to each other. You can see the entire series here. Listen to the lyrics and picture a cold, dark battlefield at Christmas during World War I when both sides knew the same sweet tune. I’m not crying, you’re crying.
SNOW BALL | HAJK | OSLO, NO
Hajk, pronounced like “hike” popped onto my wintery playlist last year with “Dancing Like This.” This year’s contribution is much more layered and languid. It starts slow with a simple piano line and builds all the way through. I love the unique tone of lead vocalist Sigrid Aase, like nothing I’ve heard before.
WHITE TREES | MADS BJØRN | ESBJERG, DK
Savor this sumptuous, serene and seriously beautiful little slice of electronica by Dane Mads Bjørn at the end of a day of shopping, wrapping, baking and general holiday hustling. It is at once so soothing and warm.
On New YearS Eve | BLAUE BLUME | COPENHAGEN, DK
Danes really do it up for New Year’s eve with brilliant blast of rockets and fireworks. I’ll even wager that Copenhagen has one of the best New Year’s Eves in the world. Don’t believe me? Come to Denmark, she said. And when you do put this Danish alt-rock band Blaue Blume’s tune in your ears. Maybe after all the festing, this is the perfect song to end your holiday season. Rich and layered like a kransekage washed down with plenty of kaffesnaps. Skål.
2019 Alternative Scandinavian Christmas Playlist on Spotify
There you go. It’s Jul, y’all. Queue up all the songs in your Spotify and sing-along all season. Not a Spotify member? No problem at all – you can listen for free online when you sign up for an account, no credit cards required, but maybe an ad or two in between songs. Here’s the whole playlist for 2019.
Let me know if you loved one or more of these new to you tunes. Have one I missed? I’m already collecting songs for the 2020 list! It’s true. Sharing is caring. Cheers from here. Happy Christmas. Glædelig Jul! All the best, Erin.
Want more holiday goodness from Scandinavian and Nordic neighbors? Check out my playlists from previous years here: