magnus carlsson

Julmust - Swedish Christmas Drink

Christmas Music and Sweden

Meeting Magnus Carlsson at Golden Times in Stockholm

Meeting Magnus Carlsson at Golden Times in Stockholm

Over the last few years I’ve written a couple of blog posts about the proliferation of of “Christmas Music” on the Swedish pop charts at this time of the year.

The first post was in 2009 when I mentioned that…

One of my colleagues, half-Australian/half-Swedish, asked me today if I had any Swedish Christmas music she could borrow. “Of course I do”, I told her, promising to bring some in to work. She said she was feeling a little homesick. I don’t quite understand why “Christmas Music” is so popular in Sweden. Perhaps it’s the snow? In the same way that we so strongly associate this time of the year with summer, perhaps the Swedes, with their dramatically contrasting weather, feel as strongly as we do about the season, but for completely different climatic reasons?

And then last year, I wrote about it again, noting…

THE leading nation for Christmas music has got to be Sweden. Every year at this time their charts are dominated by Christmas albums and singles. It’s quite a phenomenon. I remember a couple of years ago when something like 6 out of the Top 10 CDs were Christmas-themed. Check out swedishcharts.com and you’ll see with words like tomten (santa) and jul (xmas) there are currently about 10 albums in the charts which are Christmas albums. Even Benny from ABBA, with his group, BAO, has a Christmas album this year.

Today I was asked to come on the 702 ABC Sydney Drive show and have a chat about this… (Scroll through to the 32 minute mark to hear Agnetha Faltskog and Magnus Carlsson, as heard on Australian radio.

Signs of Christmas in Sydney

Christmas Musik

When it comes to public opinion, “Christmas Music” can be a real conversation divider. There’s a radio discussion forum I participate in , for example, which seems evenly divided at the moment by those who quite like or are indifferent to “Christmas Music” and those who absolutely loathe it.

I must admit years ago I fell into the latter camp. It was mostly because I worked at Coles Supermarkets and had to “endure” weeks and weeks of “Christmas Music”. What made it especially unbearable was the limited loop and predictable nature of it all. As I used to take lunch at exactly the same time every day, I quickly noticed the same songs were played at the same time every day. It was handy in a way, because as soon as I heard “Silent Night”, I knew it was time for lunch, and when “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” came on, I knew it was time to come back.

As much as those traditional numbers have endured, it’s great we now have a few modern day classics like “Last Christmas” and “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” which have re-invented the genre somewhat. But the interest in “Christmas Music” in Australia, and other English-speaking countries seems to come nowhere near the interest of the Swedes.

THE leading nation for Christmas music has got to be Sweden. Every year at this time their charts are dominated by Christmas albums and singles. It’s quite a phenomenon. I remember a couple of years ago when something like 6 out of the Top 10 CDs were Christmas-themed. Check out swedishcharts.com and you’ll see with words like tomten (santa) and jul (xmas) there are currently about 10 albums in the charts which are Christmas albums. Even Benny from ABBA, with his group, BAO, has a Christmas album this year.

But it’s not all “silent night” and seriousness. They also have good fun with Christmas music and these are two of my favourites….

The first is by the group Happy Hoes. One of the singers was in the 90s band, “Army of Lovers” and had an affair with the King of Sweden. The male singer is a drag queen. One of the other singers delivers a “classic line” in the second verse about she deserves great presents… which is “I deserve some diamonds and some gold, stuff that i can sell when i grow old…” CLassic!

The other is my Magnus Carlsson, a singer I met once who last year released a whole box set of his previous Christmas albums. I love this song where he delivers the line… “it’s christmas in a week and a day and i don’t know what to give away, so i might just wrap myself in paper for you baby”.

Swedish christmas music – my special subject. God Jul!

Meeting Magnus Carlsson at Golden Times in Stockholm

Meeting Magnus

Meeting Magnus Carlsson at Golden Times in Stockholm

Meeting Magnus Carlsson at Golden Times in Stockholm

Over the last five years or so I’ve become quite a fan of the Swedish singer, Magnus Carlsson. Not to be confused with Magnus Carlson (one s, not two) from the band, “Weeping Willows”, it’s the dance band and pop singer that I really like.

I first became aware of him when he was a member of Alcazar. Though the story gets a little complex and there are conflicting stories on the public record, but it looks as though he and Alcazar mainstay, Andreas Lundstedt were in a relationship together. And while that relationship lasted, Magnus was a member of the band.

As much as I loved his work with Alcazar, I’m also a great fan of his Swedish language solo album which contains a bunch of my favourite songs by him, especially “Funnit min angel”. As someone learning Swedish, I really appreciate that he has really clear diction, which has allowed me to really enjoy the work and learn a little Swedish along the way.

His performance at Golden Times nightclub in Stockholm was terrific. In about 30-45 minutes (I lost track of time) he sang an extended “medley” of work from throughout his career, including a fair bit of Swedish language material which really went down well with the locals. Obviously, Barbados was a pretty popular band in its time here in Sweden. I was impressed.

Knowing that I was a fan, but also quite a shy person (yes, really), my friend Graeme grabbed him as he came off stage and asked if I could have a photograph with him. “Yes, but let’s do it over by the door”, he said.

Golden Times nightclub in Stockholm

Golden Times nightclub in Stockholm

With a buzz in my step it wasn’t long before I found myself on the dance floor. “Shall we dance?”, a middle-aged woman who was sitting nearby asked me. I didn’t need much encouragement, as I love to dance. Although it often takes me a while, and a few drinks for me to get on the dance floor, I love to dance, especially to Swedish pop music. Absolute joy.

“Golden Times is a real meat market”, I was later told by a woman living here. And yes, it was true. I think it may have been the Hard Rock Cafe at some point, as the bar was decorated with lots of pop music photographs and memorabilia.

The crowd was overwhelmingly straight, aged between about 20 and 50, and fitted into two categories: those looking for a shag and those looking to dance. Generally, it’s the woman who were looking for a dance and the guys who were looking for a shag. Still, the guys recognised they needed to dance if they were to have the shag. Fairly universal theme eh?

As one of about half a dozen gay men in the bar, I was clearly a “safe option” for a few of the girls who wanted to dance without someone trying to hit on them. Thus, I was asked to dance by three separate women all of whom I’m sure enjoyed the amusement of dancing with a gay bloke from Australia with a love of Swedish pop music, and who knew all of the words to the songs.

My only disappointment with the night was discovering all too late they had karaoke in the downstairs bar. OMG, I would have loved to have done Swedish language karaoke.