5th annual festive playlist of seasonal songs from Denmark, Sweden and Norway
GOD JUL FROM OREGON GIRL AROUND THE WORLD
Hej from here! It’s Jul time y’all. This is our seventh Christmas season in Scandinavia. Holy wow. That is surreal, even for me. We moved to Copenhagen in the dark December of 2014 and spent the first two+ weeks of that month bopping between Airbnb rentals like veritable vagabonds. It felt like forever. Maybe not as “forever” as 2020 feels, but everything is relative.
And while this year looked nothing like any of us planned, I’m grateful to be here in my home. Safe and happy surrounded by my little family. These songs are a snapshot of this season. In Scandinavia. I hope you find some new to you Christmas classics. It’s the 5th annual list I’ve made from here. You’ll hear a few foreign languages but should still feel the season. Enjoy the songs. Stay safe. Love your people. Cheers from here.
HOMEPLACE | DAYS OF AUGUST | ROGALAND, NO
Let’s ease into the 2020 playlist with this lovely layered folk tune from Norway’s Days of August. This trio hails from the Rogaland region of Norway, a stunning area of immense natural beauty that we were lucky enough to sneak in a road trip through this summer. When you were allowed. We were safe and stayed away from big cities and soaked up all the scenery. I found Days of August while we were roaming around fjells and fishing in fjords. This song “Homeplace” may not be so very Christmassy per se, but a lovely starting point for this season’s list. Not being able to travel or have our people travel to our home places makes this winter a little different. If I can even create a little of the cozy that this song conjures this season, I’ll be grateful that we’re here. We’re happy. And safe. I hope you are too. Play on people. Play on.
NORDSJØEN | HVITMALT GJERDE | MINDE, BERGEN, NO
White picket fence (the translation of Hvitmalt Gjerde) may not be playing together anymore, but I still think they deserve a spot in this mix. If you follow my lists, you may remember them kicking off last year’s with “Dine Lepper Smaker Jul” – your lips taste like Christmas. “Nordsjøen” – or North Sea – is a little slower, but so is this year.
ANOTHER CHRISTMAS SONG | REMINGTON SUPER 60 | FREDERIKSTAD, NO
I don’t know how in five years of curating Scandinavian seasonal songs I have never come across Remington Super 60 before. I am so pleased with the find, that there may be three selections on this year’s list. Jingle your boots to the future past with this charming number from 2017.
COME DECEMBER | THE SHERMANS | SE
When a band is described as “jangly” I’m usually in. Especially if it comes in the form of a Christmas tune. The Shermans band mates have connection to Red Sleeping Beauty band (also featured on last year’s list.) “Come December” is a quick and cute little confection – perfect like peppermint.
CHRISTMAS (I CAN HARDLY WAIT) | THE COURETTES | DK and BRAZIL
Can you tell I like my Christmas a little nostalgic, but still sounding fresh and new? The Courettes have some of that wall of sound, sound with the fuzzy lyric delivery, bass drum beat and tinkle of the tambourine. I want to be their back up singer.
DEN VÆRSTE JUL EVER | MAJA OG DE SARTE SJÆLE | COPENHAGEN, DK
Maja and The Delicate Soul offers up this sweetly lush vintage-sounding ditty about the worst Christmas ever. I promise – it’s modern. They recorded it this year. I actually fell in love with their less seasonal song, “Den Eneste Goth i Vejle.” The last goth in Vejle. (Don’t worry I share it later in the list like a yummy little extra advent gift.)
BOY FROM THE NORTH | MONICA HELDAL | BERGEN & OSLO, NO
Monica Heldal’s sound is pure Scandi folk brilliance. Enjoy her guitar picking prowess and gorgeous voice. Do you hear a little old school Dolly, with a Norwegian accent? This one grows on you. Take a couple listens.
A MERRY OLD CHRISTMAS | NORDGARDEN | OSLO, NO
Something sentimental, familiar and a little melancholy about Norwegian singer-songwriter Terje Nordgarden. Can’t sleep? Pour another glass of gløgg and have a Merry Old Christmas this year.
SNOW | SWEET TEMPEST | BERLIN, DE & COPENHAGEN, DK
Julian Winding and Luna Kira are the duo Sweet Tempest. I love this dreamy, ethereal song – something soooo soothing about the sounds.
OSLO (GETS COLD THIS TIME OF YEAR) | CHARLOTTE QVALE | AKUREYRI, IS & MANDAL, NO
Icelandic-Norwegian singer Charlotte Qvale offers an honest story of winter in the Norwegian capital. Listen to the visceral lyrics sung so liltingly. “Oslo you’re beautiful, but you are killing me tonight. I don’t know what keeps me here, oh Oslo, you’re cold this time of year.” Ha. Anyone who has lived in Scandinavia may be able to relate. In Denmark – we all remark about the dark.
SNOWSTORM | THE RAVEONETTES | COPENHAGEN, DK
You may recognize The Raveonettes retro vintage garage band sound at this time of year from “The Christmas Song,” from 2003. Maybe just me, but I’d been into finding alternative Christmas tunes for a few years and that song is now one of my classics. Kind of like Starbucks. It was unique. At one time. Listen to this year’s “Snowstorm” for some serious Mele Kalikimaka vibes and Hawaiian slide guitars. The lyrics are timely too. “The world is not the same. Not the same. It’s in flames. We are apart. From Loved ones.” Dreaming of snow.
CHRISTMAS SONG | NIVE NIELSEN & THE DEER CHILDREN | NUUK, GREENLAND
The first Greenlandic addition to my Nordic winter playlists! Sing with Nive, this sweet and swinging Christmas song from way north. SXSW fans may know Nive and crew as the first to bring Greenland to Texas – or the festival anyway. This Christmas song is a fast classic for me with the sweet sound of her voice over the oompa bass drum. Enjoy.
CHRISTMAS IN JULY | BRUTALLIGATORS | HITCHEN, UK (RECORDED IN OSLO, NO)
“I’ve spent almost 7 holidays 11,000 miles away, I almost miss the smell of sunscreen.” Written by an Aussie expat in the UK about the differences between Christmastime across hemispheres. Beautifully sung by this “post-youth” band (I get that), it hits all the buttons about living far away from loved ones in a year like this. Produced and recorded in Oslo with Sjur Lyseid, of the Norwegian band Sunturns (featured below) who also sings back up vocals on this song.
ELECTRIC CHRISTMAS | SUNTURNS | OSLO, NO
Hilarious lyrics offer an honest take on Christmas in Norway and around the world. “That’s what you get when you teach a Norwegian how to play guitar.” The Sunturns have been featured on my Scandi Christmas playlists before, I love their version of Low’s “Just Like Christmas,” from last year’s mix. This one is equally fun and festive in its own right.
JULEMANDEN ER KOMMET TIL BYEN | IBEN HJEJLE | COPENHAGEN, DK
Here is where the playlist turns a little kitsch – and maybe the songs aren’t that new if you live here or are actually Scandinavian. I always like to share a few kitsch local classics that you will hear more than once this season if you live here. Welcome to my life – hey! I recognize that song. I understand half of what she is saying. Enjoy Santa is Coming to Town in Danish. Here he is known as Julemanden. The Christmas man.
JULIGEN | JUST D | STOCKHOLM, SE
Every Christmas mix needs some cheese. Enter Just D. This is Swedish. In case you couldn’t tell. This is Swedish Christmas rap. It’s a thing. It means – it’s Christmas again and it’s a tongue in cheek take on the overbearing and very specific ways that Scandi’s celebrate the season. “Sure, Christmas is bright, but I’m still smiling and laughing at rites and insane behavior
Because there is no room for any variation here.”
GLÆDELIG JUL ALLESAMMEN | POWERSOLO | AARHUS, DK
Don’t skip this song after the first few seconds, it definitely grows on you. The title means “Merry Christmas Everyone” in Danish. In a gritty voice, Kim Kix, the lead singer lists off everyone he wants to send seasons greetings to from his doctor, to the trash collector to teachers and the Danish Queen herself. Glædelig Jul til dig! Merry Christmas to you.
DEN ENESTE GOTH I VEJLE | MAJA OG DE SARTE SJÆLE | COPENHAGEN, DK
“The Last Goth in Vejle” may not seem like a Christmas song, but believe me this little ditty is going to warm every 80s Smiths, Joy Division and The Cure fans hearts. Listen and even you may even understand some Danish. You’re welcome.
SNOWY ROADS | CECELIA EBBA, EMMA MILLER| NORTHERN SE & LONDON, UK
Beautiful piano that harkens Agnes Obel on my first seasonal playlist, maybe even a little George Winston December. The luscious harmonies pull you along while the words might hit you right in the gut, “all the snowy roads, they lead to you. I’m coming home. I’m coming home.” I’m not crying. You’re crying.
TWO QUEENS IN A KING SIZED BED | GIRL IN RED | OSLO, NO
Marie Ulven is the Girl in Red – hailing from Oslo, Norway. Young, queer and so very talented, Ulven offers a tender but moody melody that everyone can love this season. Love is love. It might be my favorite song on this year’s list. “There’s no mistletoe above our heads, but I’ll kiss you anyway on Christmas Day. I don’t have a lot to give, but I would give you everything. All my time is yours to spend. Let me wrap you in, with my skin.” People are noticing her potential. Read this piece about her in the New York Times.
IT’S CHRISTMAS AFTER ALL | SKAAR | STORD & OSLO, NO
The tone of Skaar’s (sounds like score) gorgeous voice might remind you a little bit of Billie Eilish, but she is all Scandinavian. This song was featured on the Norwegian Netflix series Hjem til Jul – Home for Christmas. If you can stream it I can highly recommend. Yes – it’s in Norwegian, but the story is human and humorous and lovely. AND last season (2019) ends in a cliff-hanger. Good news. The second season begins on December 18, 2020. Until then enjoy Skaar.
SILENT NIGHT | TRENTEMØLLER | COPENHAGEN, DK
Let this song play, it slowly intensifies into a beautiful layered version of the Christmas classic, Silent Night. Almost as if you’re listening to it underwater, Trentemøller’s eclectic electronica is hypnotic and mesmerizing.
SNOW, LIGHTS | FLORA CASH | STOCKHOLM, SE
Such an interesting story behind the lovely pop duo Flora Cash. I mean I love them for the band name alone. Lead singer Shpresa Lleshaj’s family fled war in Kosovo with her family to Sweden. Cut to 2012 when she met Minnesotan Cole Randall on SoundCloud online. It’s modern digital amazing as I love the music they make together. A slow build accumulates such interesting layers and jingles bells, booming drums – “I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas, sha-la-lalalala-la-la.”
A CHRISTMAS NIGHT | THE NEW FEVER | COPENHAGEN, DK
So modern, so strange, so wonderful. From the 2020 album, “Formerly known as Spacey Kevin,” give this song a chance. “A warm Christmas night in the city, in Copenhagen we are. How long have we been here?” Honestly, I ask myself the same thing all the time. It feels like a modern remix of a song from Some Kind of Wonderful – maybe. Just me?
Here’s the entire playlist for your listening pleasure
So there are a few more extras on the list. I didn’t write up every tune. Phew! I thought she’d never finish. Here is the whole thing friends. There are some extra gems. Stream it up. Pop over to Spotify and follow along. Don’t worry – you don’t have to pay for Spotify – but you do need an account to listen along and may have a few ads in between. But if you join, you can save the songs you love and make your own winter wonderful lists. OR click on my profile and you’ll see all five Scandinavia seasonal mixes in one place! Give them a heart and you can listen to the lists online where ever you go. Let me know what tunes speak to you. Cheers from here. Glædelig Jul. Merry Christmas.