Just the word “Christmas” starts playing tunes in your head, doesn’t it? Whether it’s a carol like Silent Night, the children’s favorite Jingle Bells, or Elvis crooning “I’ll be home for Christmas”, the festival has music as a part of its soul. Embrace it this year with the help of a few websites.
The internet has a little bit for everyone. If you want to do the singing, there are Christmas-centric karaoke apps. You can listen to Christmas music online for free. Or for the religious significance, you can learn the carols and the true meaning behind them. Whatever floats your boat, these five sites have you covered.
1. Radio Santa Claus (Web): For Christmas Pop Songs
There are plenty of online radio stations for Christmas songs. But when you’re with your family and want some music in the background, head to Radio Santa Claus. It’s an easy name to remember, and it works on all devices.
The playlist at Radio Santa Claus isn’t much different from what you’ll get from other online stations. It’s mostly Christmas-themed pop songs. But what makes the site special is how well it works. By offering the low bitrate AAC format as well as the higher bitrate MP3 format, the songs stream fine even on poor connections. And in a large gathering, you won’t be able to tell the difference anyway.
Radio Santa Claus also has an Android app, but it didn’t work properly when we tested it. The mobile site works fine though, so stick to using a browser for this one.
If Radio Santa Claus’s collection isn’t for you, try Tinsel and Tunes, which is another free Christmas radio station. It seems to have a larger catalog of songs, and will be continuously streaming until January 1.
2. Christmas Carols Radio (Web): For Christmas Carols
While Radio Santa Claus and Tinsel and Tunes are all about pop songs, Christmas Carols Radio goes old school. If your definition of festive music is a choir belting out carols, then this is the radio station for you.
It’s free to listen to, so head to the site, click “Listen Online”, and start playing. You can even use a pop-out player so that you don’t need to keep the tab open.
The only downside of Christmas Carols Radio is that it is geo-restricted to U.S. and Canada. If you’re outside those countries, a simple free VPN service will do the job. In fact, we even successfully used it with Opera’s built-in free VPN.
3. Musical Advent Calendar (Web): Classic Christmas Music in New Genres
What would “O Holy Night” sound like if it was played by a reggae band? Or “Deck the Halls” being played with a whimsical, airy tune? Find out at the Musical Advent Calendar.
There are 24 different genres that cover classic Christmas music here: rock, swing, violin, chiptune, trance, sax, funk, chill, dubstep, metal, reggae, orchestra, trap, vocaloid, sad, salsa, gospel, Celtic, jazz, tenor, creepy, lounge, nu-disco, and glitch-hop. Play them one by one and you’ll get some incredible tunes that you’ve never heard before.
It’s a lovely new way to get into the festive spirit, much like watching Christmas movies on Netflix. If nothing else, check out “All I Want for Christmas” in the tenor genre.
4. Tis the Season to Be (Web): Sing Christmas Karaoke!
Who doesn’t love a good karaoke night? And when the whole family has gathered together, whip out that microphone and make nana belt out a few golden oldies. Now, you could build your own vocal-free karaoke tracks, but this website probably has every song you’d want.
Tis the Season to Be divides its catalog into two: carols and songs. Pick your genre, pick a song from the list available, and start playing. You don’t really need a microphone or a fancy karaoke machine for this. Just keep along with the lyrics and have a good time. If you have some time to plan, you can print out the lyrics beforehand and pass them around so everyone can participate together.
The volume tends to be a little low on these songs, and it’ll get drowned out once people start singing along. So, you might need a good set of Bluetooth speakers so everyone can hear the music.
5. The Hymns and Carols of Christmas (Web): History, Meaning, and More
Many of the hymns and carols sung around Christmas-time today are not that old. “O Holy Night”, for instance, was written in the early 19th century. The history and tales behind these are fascinating, and collected in one place on this site.
Given how far Christianity had spread across Europe, it’s no surprise that several popular carols of today actually originated in a different language. For example, if you want to know the story of “Silent Night”, the website will take you to the original Austrian “Stille Nacht”. There, you can see how it was originally written, and even find notes and videos about the history behind the carol.
The Hymns and Carols of Christmas is largely an academic endeavor. Its Table of Contents is what you’ll need the most, since browsing the site is difficult. But when a child asks you a question about the carols or hymns, wouldn’t you like to know the actual answer?
What’s More Festive: Carols, Songs, or Instrumental?
So readers, which of the major types of Christmas music would you prefer to play to get into the festive spirit? Do carols do it for you or are Christmas pop songs ideal? Or do you leave out the vocals altogether and go with an instrumental background score?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.