New Holiday Music to Tune-up Your Christmas Hygge
HOLIDAY SONGS FROM DENMARK, SWEDEN, NORWAY
Turn on the twinkly lights, start up the stereo and pop on these tunes. This isn’t your Danish Mormor‘s Christmas music. It’s time for my 3rd annual Scandinavian holiday playlist chock full of new to you seasonal songs from artists all around Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
Having spent an inordinate amount of time creating, culling and curating this year’s compilation, I hope you’ll find a few new gems that will become classisks on your holiday playlist.
LOOKING FOR THE LATEST PLAYLIST? | SEE 2019 TUNES HERE
Scandinavian Christmas Party Starters
December is dark here in Denmark and there is nothing better than some bright, upbeat tunes to shake off the cold and damp.
NAVN I SNE | ULIGE NUMRE | COPENHAGEN, DK
Ulige Numre means “odd numbers” in Danish and while the band may not be getting back together (since 2015) you can’t help but wish they would when you hear this happy tune. Name in snow
If I may write your name in snow before the spring melts us away
Would you then forget everything I said – You know, we forget so easily, that’s for sure
And I don’t know where your eyes are taking me
If I’m in or out
But this city lays buried under snow
And every flake has fallen on its own
You’re a little hopeless girl, knocking on my door a snowy night
Do you believe that fate will pick you up?
And I dont know where your eyes are taking me
If I’m in or out.” – Ulige Numre, Navn i Sne
COLD ZONE | TELLA VIV | STOCKHOLM SE
I love the drum pushing rock-pop of Swedish indie band Tella Viv made up of friends Carl Hjelm Sandqvist, Benjamin Laven and brothers Fredric and Marcus Lindblom. Their music feels retro and modern at once all mashed up in toe-tapping rhythms. Cold Zone feels anything but and will keep you moving all Jul long. A little bonus Christmas gift – check out their other tunes, “No, No, No, No” and newest release “Bang, Boom, Crash,” equally as fab if not quite as festive! It’s a sound you better get used to.
[We are just] … four Swedes without driving licenses, writing surf songs about going down the highway.” – Carl in interview on Music Musings & Such
MERRY CHRISTMAS, MARIE | RED SLEEPING BEAUTY | STOCKHOLM SE
Staying in Sweden and giving a nod to some old-school Swedish independent music, let’s turn to pioneer band Red Sleeping Beauty which originally formed in the late ’80s and influenced Swedish pop music for decades. 2016 saw the band back together with their first full-length album in nineteen years. On it, I found this seasonal gem, “Merry Christmas, Marie.” Sway along to the synth beats of Swedish pop.
Red Sleeping Beauty have always been fans of old drum machines and vintage synthesizers. On [this album] they’ve cultivated their love and set up strict rules for the recordings: only analogue synthesisers and one acoustic guitar allowed. The result is a heartfelt mix of memorable pop melodies and timeless electronica.”
– Labrador Records
CHRISTMAS SONG | THE GARLANDS | STOCKHOLM SE
And because one Swedish indie pop band deserves another and any self-respecting alternative Scandi Christmas playlist must include The Garlands, I offer you this “Christmas Song.” How can you not love their self-labeled “twee pop.”
ANORAK CHRISTMAS | NIXON | HALMSTED SE
Nixon is a one-man Swedish band made up of Roger Gunnarson who went on to form The Garlands in 2007. Taking you back to his Christmas roots here with Anorak Christmas. I am charmed and smitten with the sweet keyboard quirkiness. It has a tiny bit of “Neverending Story” feel which endears it to me even more. Season 3 Stranger Things anyone?
LAST CHRISTMAS | KISSAWAY TRAIL | ODENSE DENMARK
I know, I know – who needs ANOTHER version of Last Christmas. But seriously, I do. I do. Here in Denmark, step into any store, shop, market and more and you will probably hear the Wham! one within five minutes of entering. It gets old. I love this slowed down moody version by Kissaway Trail out of Odense, Denmark’s little sister city on the island of Funen. Try it. You’ll see.
THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST | DYLAN MONDEGREEN | OSLO NO
Dylan Mondegreen is the pseudonym for Børges Sildnes, a Norwegian singer who takes Christmas back to ’70s soft rock, complete with rock flute. Oh yes. I mean we really don’t have enough rock flute anymore. It grows on you. Like Grandma’s fruit cake. “Do it again, now.”
ENDELIG JUL IGEN | GASOLIN’ | COPENHAGEN DK
This song is definitely not an alternative tune if you live in Denmark. Finally, it’s Christmas again. Especially sentimental this year with the 2018 passing of Danish music icon Kim Kjærside, lead singer of 1970s band Gasolin’.
jul på vesterbro | anders matthesen | COPENHAGEN DK
This is Danish Julerap. Yep. Christmas rap. In Danish. This is also not really an alternative song here in Denmark, you’ll hear it on the radio all season long. It was originally performed by Danish comedian/rapper Anders Matthesen on a Christmas advent TV series in 2003 with characters and humor that is decidedly dark and oh so very Danish. Check out the YouTube here, where you can get a better sense of Christmas at the bottom of the barrel.
WINTER SOUND | OF MONSTERS AND MEN | REYKJAVIK IS
Close enough to Scandinavia, but technically Nordic, Icelandic super band Of Monsters and Men needs little introduction. But maybe you don’t know the members’ names – say halló to Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir, Ragnar Þórhallsson, Brynjar Leifsson, Arnar Rósenkranz Hilmarsson, Kristján Páll Kristjánsson. With Viking names like those and Iceland celebrating 100 years of independence from Denmark on December 1 2018, they definitely deserved a spot on the Scandi seasonal playlist this year.
CHRISTMAS ON EARTH | MARCHING CHURCH | COPENHAGEN DK
Christmas on Earth reminds us that the holidays are complicated and challenging for many this time of year. The tune conjures all sorts of nostalgia in delivery as Danish punk rocker Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, about Marching Church’s Christmas on Earth. Previously part of the punk band Iceage, Rønnenfelt left to explore his own music but evolved into his own full-fledged band in 2014. Christmas on Earth is a bit boozy, arms flung ’round your friends, all singing together at the end of the night kind of fun despite the slightly depressing lyrics.
STARLIGHT | STORME | SE
Amanda Liedberg and Gabrielle Mazza are the Swedish duo fronting London based STORME. Starlight starts off with pretty piano and brilliant vocals and builds into an atmospheric, layered and powerful piece that will brighten any dark winter sky.
STORME are all about silver linings: the defiant little lockets of light that glimmer in even the blackest clouds. “I always to try to find hope, a reason to just hang on in there,” says one half of the fast-rising electronic pop duo, vocalist Amanda Liedberg.
DANCING LIKE THIS | HAJK | OSLO NO
Easier to pronounce than it looks Hajk (just say “hike”) hails from the Norwegian capital of Oslo and has climbed right onto the radar of the International pop scene in 2018. Take happy bright lyrics that aren’t too spammy or cheesy, add a mature mellow sound and take a listen. You may be dancing like this all Christmas.
Light the Candles and Turn on the Tree, Time to Slow it Down
IN THE MOOD | SKOTT | VIKARBYN, SE
Pauline Skött, also known as Skott, is a Swedish pop phenomenon about to happen. If you tuned in to last year’s Scandinavian Christmas Party, you may remember her song “Wolf” track I shared there. Growing up somewhat sheltered in a small folk-music community in Dalarna Sweden (you know those iconic Dala horses? They’re from here), Skott is derivative of no one. And her voice? Dreamy. This tune will definitely get you in the mood.
JULEN BLIVER HVID | KALA-OK + KIRSTEN & MARIE | COPENHAGEN + VIBORG DK
A unique Christmas collaboration sponsored by the Danish radio show, The Electronic Barometer (Det Elektriske Barometer) in 2012. Kirsten & Marie are twins from a small Danish town called Viborg blend their neo-folk pop vocals with the electronic stylings of Copenhagen/Beijing based Kala-Ok (which means karaoke in Chinese.)
WINTER SUN | ELIDA HØGELMAN | BERGEN NO
In Scandinavia, there is something about the sun in winter. Not just do we see less light, but the sun sits lower on the horizon and casts long shadows all day. Norwegian Elida Høgalmen may not live in the Arctic but does know about the dark come December from her home in Bergen, Norway. This track “Winter Sun” is a bit melancholy, beginning slow and soft, builds into layers and layers of languid vocals, drums and synthesizer. “Wake up to something new.”
FIRE WITH FIRE | ST. NIKLAS | TRONDHEIM NO
St. Niklas’ pastel pop gets special seating on this playlist in part due to the name of the band. Before you dismiss the pretty-boy Norwegian as potentially bubblegum, take a listen.
HER KOMMER VINTEREN | INGRID OLAVA | OSLO NO
Don’t try to understand Ingrid Olava’s Norwegian, just enjoy her tone and how she moves easily between percussive annunciation to buttery lilting as she sings about the arrival of winter. Here comes winter with some sumptuous cello and strings. Gives me chills every time.
CAROL OF THE BELLS | FALLULAH | COPENHAGEN DK
My new favorite version of Carol of the Bells, this drum driven atmospheric take by Copenhagen artist Fallulah have you singing hark, how the bells before you know it. Sexy, smooth and cool.
HYMN FOR THE SEASON | CRYING DAY CARE CHOIR | MALMÖ SE
Folksy, alternative, brilliant. I can’t have Christmas without the Crying Day Care Choir. Hailing from the other side of the Øresund Bridge from Copenhagen, this Malmö, Sweden trio is made up of husband-wife duo Jack and Sara Elz plus brother Bill Nystedt. Family ties make sweet tunes; intelligent and entertaining. You’ll find another of their fun tunes called, Cosas Caras on the Spotify playlist.
There’s something softly uplifting about Crying Day Care Choir. An alt-folk trio from Sweden, the band’s gentle, warm, and personal harmonies seem to effortlessly push past life’s troubles. Imagine a Nordic parallel to Simon & Garfunkel and you’d be close, with those neatly packed melodies recalling the best aspects of Fleet Foxes.”
– Clash Music.com
FEELING OF CHRISTMAS | EMELIE HOLLOW | NO
“Just when you feel like you don’t have a friend, I’ll make you feel like it is Christmas again.” Listen to the lyrics of this lovely seasonal song from Norwegian Emelie Hollow. I adore it. Wishing we could all light up the way for one person this Christmas.
WINTER’S CALLING | URBAN CONE | STOCKHOLM SE
Peaceful piano and simple harmonies from this Swedish foursome called Urban Cone. Self-classified as indie-electro-rock, if this is what winter sounds like, I’m coming. The bandmates are truly that, friends since high school and write songs that bring an emotional connectivity you can hear and feel. Urban Cone is Rasmus Flyckt, Tim Formgren, Emil Gustafsson, Jacob William Sjöberg.
VINTER | KATINKA | Copenhagen, DK
Katinka’s gorgeous voice and tone will carry you through these Danish lyrics that you may not understand, but you’ll be hard-pressed to not feel the emotion.
When the winter comes with frozen arms
And I’m alone to hold it
I’m alone to pray
Again alone to take care of it
If one day will be spring again” – translated from Katinka Vinter
WHEN IT RAINS ON CHRISTMAS DAY | SOFIA TALVIK | GOTHENBURG SE
Sofia Talvik brings a twangy brand of Swedish folk music, that might remind you of First Aid Kit, but is definitely her own. If Sofia is your style and this song speaks to you, do yourself a favor and take in her entire Christmas Album – When Winter Comes, released last year. With Oregon in my heart and Denmark on my address label – it has often rained on my Christmas days.
INTO THE COLD | ANNA LEONE | STOCKHOLM SE
Melancholy, achingly luscious and gorgeously sung, I could listen to this song on repeat all winter long. A young singer-songwriter from Stockholm, a city that seems to breed beautiful voices, Anna Leone’s tone and tunes bring a humanity and feeling harder to find.
LOVERS | ANNA OF THE NORTH | GJØVIK & OSLO, NO
I’ve shared Norwegian singer Anna of the North on my winter playlists previously, but when you hear this one, you’ll understand why. Cozy up on the couch with your lover, put a fire (on the television?) and light some candles. Reach out and show a little love.
BLANKET | SIV JAKOBSEN | ASKER NO
Wrap yourself in the blanket that is the voice of Norwegian folk artist Siv Jakobsen. Simply stunning. Rich, otherworldly, immersive, Jakobsen has created a unique modern folk sound she calls Nordic Mellow.
2018 Alternative Scandinavian Christmas Playlist on Spotify
Tune in and turn it up. Here are all the songs featured above plus more collected in one happy place on Spotify. Not a Spotify member? No worries – you can listen for free, when you sign up for an account.
Did you find a new seasonal favorite for your own winter playlist? Let me know – I’d love to know which ones resonate with you. And if you loved them all – feel free to share. Cheers from here. Happy Christmas. Glædelig Jul. All the best, Erin.