A Swiss mixtape for your next road trip.
Switzerland in international pop music: the stars of the music world regularly sing the praises of our country. Here is a selection that ranges from rock and alternative to hip-hop and techno.
Bastian Baker – Jackpot
The official song of the Grand Tour of Switzerland
Lausanne-born Bastian Baker takes us on a road trip through Switzerland. “Switzerland is a unique holiday destination. Last year I took the Grand Tour of Switzerland and fell in love with our country all over again,” enthuses Bastian Baker. The tour inspired him to write his song “Jackpot”, in which he sings about how lucky he is to be at home in Switzerland as a holiday destination.
The Cardigans – Daddy’s Car
From Paris to Lausanne
The Cardigans are a Swedish band. With over 15 million albums sold, they are one of the country’s most successful music groups. Their laid-back alternative rock is the ideal soundtrack for a road trip. In the song Daddy’s Car from 1995, the band takes a drive around half of Europe – and from there into outer space. Their travels also take them to Lake Geneva in Switzerland: to Luxembourg, Rome, Berlin and a stopover on the moon, before a trip from Paris to Lausanne.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Higgs Boson Blues
Elementary particles in Geneva
I’m driving my car down to Geneva: a car journey to Geneva marks the start of the Higgs Boson Blues by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. The focus is on the big questions in life, and what holds the world together at its core. The Higgs particle that gives the song its name is an elementary particle named after British researcher Peter Higgs. Although the Higgs theory dates back to the 1960s, experimental evidence was not successful until 2012 – at the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) at CERN in Geneva. You can visit CERN (but not the LHC itself) on a guided tour.
Deep Purple – Smoke on the Water
Casino in flames
4 December 1971 in Montreux: Frank Zappa and his band “Mother of Inventions” played a concert at the casino in Montreux. After a fan ignited a flare gun in the venue, the building went up in flames. Fortunately, no one was injured, but the casino was burned to the ground. The rest is music history: Deep Purple, who happened to be staying in the city to record their album “Machine Head”, witnessed the catastrophe. They recorded the dramatic event for posterity in their worldwide hit Smoke on the Water.
Girls In Hawaii – Switzerland
Everlasting snow and a thousand suns
Girls In Hawaii is an indie pop band from Belgium. Even though the band’s name suggests the South Seas and white sandy beaches, in their song Switzerland, the band expresses a longing for Switzerland, the land of a thousand suns and eternal snow. In the summer of 2013 the band finally made it to their longed-for destination: they then played the song live at the Montreux Jazz Festival.
Gorillaz – Lake Zurich
Chilling by Lake Zurich
2-D, Murdoc Niccals, Russel Hobbs and Noodle: these are the names of the four animated members of virtual band Gorillaz. The band was created in 1998 by musician Damon Albarn and illustrator Jamie Hewlett. The four animated heroes have become superstars of pop music. The song Lake Zurich shares an interesting idea with the world: how would it be if we were to build a tunnel from Zurich to New York? Even if this project is unlikely to ever get off the ground, electro-pop from Lake Zurich is the perfect soundtrack for a relaxing day by Lake Zurich, in Zurich’s Seebad Enge lido, for example.
Kadebostany – Take Me To The Moon
A musical postcard from Western Switzerland
Kadebostany is a Swiss pop band from Geneva. According to the band members themselves, they originally come from the (fictional) European republic of “Kadebostany”, with frontman Guillaume de Kadebostany as their president. Even though the stated destination of their single Take Me To The Moon (feat. Valeria Stoica) is outer space, the video shows spectacular locations in Western Switzerland. Filming locations for the video included La Blécherette Airport in Lausanne, the Peak Walk suspension bridge in Les Diablerets and the Lac de Joux (shown above).
Kids See Ghosts (Kanye West & Kid Cudi) – Kids See Ghosts
Rap tribute to Herzog & de Meuron
Kids See Ghosts is a collaborative project between rap superstars Kanye West and Kid Cudi. Since at least 2013, we have known that Kanye West has a special place in his heart for the city of Basel and, above all, its architecture. At that time the rapper appeared in the city at the Design Miami/Basel fair to perform material from his new album “Yeezus”. He must have been impressed with the exhibition centre designed by Basel’s star architects Herzog & de Meuron because five years later he paid it a musical tribute. In the title track Kids See Ghosts Kanye West dreams of a future designed in the offices of Herzog & de Meuron in Basel.
Lo & Leduc – 079
A call from the capital of pop
Züri West, Patent Ochsner, Stiller Has or Troubas Kater: The Swiss are fond of bands that sing in dialect from the country’s political and pop capital Bern. Making it almost impossible to agree on a single song that represents this musical diversity. But a choice had to be made – and 079 by Lo & Leduc got the nod of approval. Originally released as a free download in 2018, the song by Lorenz Häberli (Lo) and Luc Oggier (Leduc) was Number 1 in the Swiss charts for 21 weeks – with this, Lo & Leduc still hold the Swiss record. By the way, 079 is the most common prefix in the Swiss mobile network. You will find other important telephone numbers that you should always have to hand on a Swiss road trip here.
Van Morrison – Goin’ Down Geneva
Geneva’s got the blues
Goin’ Down Geneva is a blues number by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison. The song brings the blues of the American Deep South to Europe: it was written in 1998 when the artist was on a European tour, and Morrison played it live for the first time at the Montreux Jazz Festival. The lyrics allude to British musician Vince Taylor, who lived in city of Geneva.
The Nits – Holiday On Ice
Charming Swiss ski instructors
The Nits are a pop group from Amsterdam that achieved a European break-through with their hit “In the Dutch Mountains” in 1987. Switzerland regularly plays a role in the band’s tracks, such as in the song Holiday On Ice from 1981. The song is about a Swiss ski instructor who turns his students’ heads: “She knows nothing about boys / He’s got too much choice / On this mountain in Switzerland.” Hardly surprising, since Switzerland’s ski schools (and, for younger guests, their mascot Snowli) have been providing top-level instruction with plenty of charm and professionalism in all winter sports disciplines at over 150 winter sports destinations since 1932.
Prince – Lavaux
Funk among the grapevines
In 2009, Prince played a concert at the Montreux Jazz Festival. After he was picked up from the airport, Prince didn’t ask to be driven straight to his hotel, but instead wanted to explore the locality. His chauffeur took him on a drive through the wine-growing regions around Lake Geneva. Prince was very interested and took notes, later writing a song based on his experiences: Lavaux. The wine-growing region between Lausanne and Montreux-Vevey had been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site two years earlier. Picturesque villages, stately wineries and award-winning gourmet restaurants: Lavaux really is fit for a prince. Even the delicious “chocolate of Vevey” gets a fond mention in the song.
Soccer Mommy – Switzerland
Back to one’s roots
Singer-songwriter Sophie Allison is better known by her show business name Soccer Mommy and lives in Nashville, Tennessee. She is considered to be one of the biggest indie rock discoveries in recent years. Sophie Allison was born in Zurich in 1997. Her love song entitled Switzerland expresses dreams of a future that she would like to spend with the person dearest to her in Switzerland: “We could go to Switzerland, never come back home again. You like the cold, at least that’s what I hear. And Zurich’s nice for growing old and that’s all I want to do (with you).”
Manuel Stahlberger & Bit-Tuner – S erscht Mol
St. Gallen, 19 March 1983
The city of St. Gallen in Eastern Switzerland is a cradle of knowledge and culture. The world-famous Abbey District with its cathedral and library has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1983. The people of St. Gallen are equally proud of its football culture. Local club FC St.Gallen was founded in 1879 and is believed to be the oldest football club in continental Europe. This football culture is also the subject of Swiss dialect song S erscht Mol by musician and cabaret artist Manuel Stahlberger (born in St. Gallen in 1974). Stahlberger remembers the electronic sounds from producer Bit-Tuner when he attended an FC St.Gallen football game for the first time together with his father – on 19 March 1983. More background information on St. Gallen’s love affair with football can be found here.
Beck – Cellphone’s Dead (Ricardo Villalobos Entlebuch Remix)
Dancing in Entlebuch
Beck (the alias for Beck Hansen) is an American musician and multiple Grammy Award winner. His song Cellphone’s Dead from 2006 describes the feeling of alienation and isolation in a society dominated by technology – the solution to the dilemma can be found in the music itself. Techno producer and DJ Ricardo Villalobos broke the song down into its individual parts and put it back together as a 15-minute remix. He named the remixed track after the UNESCO Biosphere in Entlebuch in the canton of Lucerne. The landscape of Entlebuch has a similar effect on the senses as Villalobos’ minimal techno on the dance floor: all sense of time disappears and the mind finds at rest.
Wham! – Last Christmas
Broken hearts in Saas-Fee
A passionate flirt under the Christmas tree, but the very next day the girl gives her heart away to someone else: that’s the story behind Last Christmas by Wham! This song marked the international break-through for the band formed by George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley. This song from the 1980s is still a popular choice among radio DJs at Christmas. The video for the global hit is equally legendary: it was filmed in Saas-Fee in the Valais Alps in December 1984. At the time, the local village population knew nothing about the band that would eventually become famous all around the world, and were surprised to see these strange English guys with their blow-dry hairstyles and big shoulder pads.