Stubbys House of Christmas       
 
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1. Intro
2. Viskar en bön
3. Ave Maria
4. Jag kommer hem igen till jul
5. Jul, jul, strålande jul

6. Gå inte förbi (duet with Sissel Kyrkjebö)
7. Gläns över sjö och strand
8. Snön föll
9. Decembernatt (Halleluja)
10. Guds frid i gode vise män
11. Marias sång
12. O helga natt (Cantique de noël)
13. Jag tror på dig
14. Stilla natt (Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht)
15. Varmt igen

16. Änglar i snön (duet with Sara Isaksson)
17. Gott nytt år
18. Min bön (duet with Sarah Dawn Finer)
19. Jul nu igen (new song)


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BENGANS
GINZA

Peter Joback is perhaps the foremost male vocalist in Sweden.  He's also an accomplished musical actor, winning two Swedish Tony awards for his work in "Caberet" and "Kristina" (a musical written by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABBA).  And, thanks to annual holiday tours and numerous Christmas recordings, he is also one of the artists most closely associated with Christmas there (sort of Sweden's Cliff Richard).  Most of what I've heard of Peter's is very much Adult Contemporary.  He does (I am told) genre jump from tome to time, but this Christmas album is a pretty AC affair.

Peter's most beloved Christmas record is "Jag kommer hem igen till jul".  Some of his most rabid fans refer to the 2002 release as "the ultimate Christmas album of all times".  If you're up on your Irish folk songs, you might recognize the melody in the video above as "Be Thou My Vision" (albeit in Swedish and with Christmas lyrics).  The album also features Peter's takes on "O Holy Night", "Ave Maria", "Silent Night", "What Child Is This" and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah".  For the 2012 "Tenth Anniversary" edition, there's a new 24 page booklet (which will include a forward from Peter, pictures, and lyrics.  The album will also be 4 tracks fatter.  Tracks 16-18 are drawn from a limited edition release from 2008, “En god jul och ett gott nytt år”, which paired new Christmas recordings with live recordings captured during Christmas tours.  That album was only available in ICA stores (and anyone outside of Scandinavia who has tried to track down Mans Zemerlow's recent Christmas album knows how "limited" that can be).  The final track, "Jul Nu Igen" ("Christmas Now Again"), is a new one recorded this year and expected to be Peter's 2012 holiday single.

Bengans shows a November 14 release date, while Ginza has it listed for the 21st.  Regardless, I am aware that Ginza will only sell within Sweden.  Not sure what Bengans policy is.  For a 14 track version of the original 2002 release, Amazon MP3 has your back.
 
 
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1.  Here Comes Santa Claus Again
2.  Fira Jul Pa Fyra Hjul (Christmas On Four Wheels)
3.  Christmas Time Has Found Me
4.  Trucking Trees For Christmas
5.  Tomten Ar Aldrig Sen (Santa Is Never Late)
6.  Run Rudolph Run
7.  Ingen Jul Utan Dig (No Christmas Without You)
8.  Santa's On The Go
9.  All I Want For Christmas Dear Is You
10.  Christmas Bug
11.  Julnatt (Christmas Eve)
11.  Julmedley
12.  Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy


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One of the hottest acts in Sweden, right now, also boast one of the hottest albums on their charts.  The Playtones were the first place finishers on the reality TV show Dansbandskampen 2009.  Earlier this year, they topped the Swedish charts with "Rock N Roll Party" and, three weeks after release, "Rock N Roll Christmas Party" has climbed to #4.  The band is generally described as a Rockabilly band but, judging from this outing, they move pretty easily between a wide cross-section of late 50s/early 60s styles.  There's flat out Country ("Trucking Trees For Christmas") and a fairly straight forward cover of Chuck Berry's "Run Ridolph Run", and quite a bit in between.  Whatever you want to call it, it remains an undeniable fact that Europeans love America's musical heritage far more than Americans do.   For me, the highlight was the song above--"Christmas Time Has Found Me", it's got a bouncy, timeless "Jingle Bell Rock" vibe.  The official single, however, appears to be "Tomten Ar Aldrig Sen" (btw, the English translations above are google's, not mine).  In any case, the album, as a whole, is a rocking good time and it wouldn't hurt to have some more of that domestically.

And a bit of good news on this one for those, like myself, who love Christmas music from far away lands (and those looking for "a rocking good time").  "Rock N Roll Christmas Party" is available on the domestic iTunes (released here on 11/15), so you don't have to pay those high import prices for this new release unless you want a hard copy CD. 

 
 
Måns Zelmerlöw was a contestant on the Swedish version of American Idol back in 2005, so you'd figure that's the kind of music he does.  But judging only from the brief YouTube clip above, "Christmas With Friends" might be the blissful surprise of the 2010 Christmas music season.  For all the artists who have tried, I don't think anyone has better captured the sound and spirit of the classic discs of old from artists like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and others in that vein.  Again, I've only got a minute and a half clip to go by.  But I'm really liking that sound.

The album was done in association with the World Childhood Foundation, a charity, and features collaborations with popular Swedish artists including Björn Skifs (Blue Swede), Lunds Studentsångare, Pauline, Göteborgs symfoniorkester and Pernilla Andersson.  "Christmas With Friends" boasts two original tracks, "December" and "Vit som en snö" ("White as Snow").  The album will be sold exclusively through ICA Stores (a large Swedish retailer).

Not entirely new to Christmas music, Måns did a duet with another 2005 "Idol" contestant, Agness Carlsson (who won that year), on a 2007 rendition of Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas" which, within minutes, became the ad campaign for MQ, a mega-store not unlike Target. But the sound on that one was much more Poppish than the lush sound of this clip for the upcoming album.  I might just have to go out of my way to get this one.
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1.  Jag drömmer om en jul hemma
2.  Christmas Song
3.  I Pray on Christmas (with Björn Skifs)
4.  December
5.  Oh, come all ye faitful
6.  All I Want for Christmas Is You (with Pauline)
7.  Tometen jag vill ha en riktig jul
8.  The Angel Gabriel (with Lunds studentsångare)
9.  Winter Wonderland
10. Christmas (Baby please come home)
11. Vit som en snö (with Pernilla Andersson)


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1. JUL, JUL STRÅLANDE JUL (Bright Shining Yule)
2. NÄR DET LIDER MOT JUL (Christmas Draws Nigh)
3. ALLELUJA 
4. PIE JESU (FAURÉ) 
5. SANTA LUCIA (with Charles Castronovo) 
6. LAUDAMUS TE 
7. STILLA NATT (Silent Night)
8. LAUDATE DOMINUM 
9. KOPPÅNGEN 
10. ETERNAL SOURCE OF LIGHT DIVINE 
11. BRED DINA VIDA VINGAR (Spread Thy Wide Wings)
12. PIE JESU (WEBBER) 
13. BETLEHEMS STJÄRNA (Star Of Bethlehem)
14. AVE MARIA (with Martin Frost) 
15. MARIAS VAGGSÅNG (Maria's Lullaby)
16. DEN SIGNADE DAG
(O Blessed Day) 
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Malena Ernman initially made her name in Opera but has moved more and more towards Cabaret Pop.  Ernman's most recent albums have contained elements and performances of both, which can be a little of a disconcerting juxtaposition, though Ernman blends the two fairly well.  And, in the 2009 Eurovision competition, she went full-on Techno Pop with her poperatic performance of "La Voix".  I'm not a big fan of any of those genres but, based on the little I've listened to, I'd have to say Ernman is an exceptional Opera singer, bringing an uncommon delicacy to her vocal performances.   But "La Voix" is really quite catchy in spite of itself, putting a uniquely European spin on the old Phil Spector kitchen-sink "Wall of Sound" concept.

The track list, here, looks to be a combination of Traditional Swedish Christmas songs and Classical.  "Jul Jul Stralande Jul", for example, is practically Sweden's "White Christmas".  Song title translations are mine, but hopefully accurate.

If a Malena Ernman Christmas album is something you've been pining for, you can pre-order an autographed copy from her website for roughly $22.50 (149 kronar), plus 55 kronar shipping (about $8.30).

Above, we gave you a performance of "Pie Jesu (Faure)", which appears on "Santa Lucia".  But I'd truly be remiss if I didn't also include "La Voix".  I promise you it's great.


 
 
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1.  Ater Igen
2.  Bereden Vag For Herran
3.  Dagen Ar Kommen
4.  Glans O ver Sjo & Strand
5.  Himlen I Min Famn
6.  Himmel Pa Jord
7.  Jul Jul Stralande Jul
8.  Maria
9.  Pie Jesu
10. Sar Mork Ar Natten
11. Tand Ett Ljus
12. Var Jul


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Back in 2008, these three women--all successful solo artists in Sweden--got together to record a Christmas album.  That album, "Our Christmas", was sung entirely in English (well, except for "Ave Maria").  The album went platinum in just 10 days.

So now Sanna Nielsen, Shirley Clamp and Sonja Alden have reunited for a second Christmas album.  This one is called "Var Jul" (translation: "Our Christmas") and is sung entirely in Swedish.  Shirley is sort of Sweden's answer to Kelly Clarkson.  Not sure what comparisons they make for the other two but, you know, somewhere in that same neighborhood.

From the song samples, I want to compare the sound, here, to Wilson-Phillips (insulting everyone, I'm sure), but only when they're singing harmony vocals.  Often, though, they just trade leads.  Fortunately, we do have song samples for this one, so feel free to listen and draw your own conclusions.


The original "Our Christmas" can be purchased through Amazon.

Our Christmas
 
 
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1. I'll Be Home For Christmas
2. Maybe This Christmas
3. Have Yourself A Merry Litte Christmas (with Nils Landgren)
4. The Christmas Song
5. In The Bleak Midwinter
6. Christmas Time Is Here
7. Angel
8. Auld Lang Syne - feat. Eric Bibb
9. I'll Be Your Wish Tonight
10. Winter Song (with Louise Hoffsten)
11. River
12. What A Wonderful World
13. Sometimes It Snows In April 
Bonus Track:  Kärleksvisan

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Anybody speak Swedish?  No?  Then I'll dispense with the Press Release.

Sarah Dawn Finer is spoken of, in Swedish circles, as a soulful vocalist but, for American purposes, it's best to say she has that American Idol sound.  Now 29 years old, Finer first appeared on the scene as a contestant in Melodifestivalen 2007, which is part of the "playoff" system for getting into Eurovision.  Her song, "I Remember Love" (co-written by Peter Hallström) placed 4th in the Swedish finals.  Although she didn't make it to Eurovision, her song was a huge hit in Sweden, eventually finding it's way to the soundtrack album for Between Love and Goodbye.  Finer's debut album, "Finer Dawn", rose to #2 on the Swedish charts.  Her second and most recent album, "Moving On", debuted at #1.

"Winterland" covers some jazz-era standards, one traditional carol, and several more contemporary songs such as Ron Sexsmith's "Maybe This Christmas", Joni Mitchell's "River", Sarah McLachlan's "Angel", and, perhaps most interesting, Prince's "Sometimes It Snows In April".  The bonus track, which translates as "Love Song", is another soundtrack cut and recent single from Sarah.

It'll likely take a while for this to trickle into Amazon as an import, so the link we've provided is to Finer's own web store for anyone interested in ordering this one.

 

    International

    When it's Christmas, it's Christmas all over the world. And I've long been fascinated by the holiday songs of faraway lands--so different and new and yet somehow so familiar.  

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