If you've already had all the Mathis and Mariah you can take this December but still want to set a merry mood for nog drinking and gift wrapping, you're in the right place! Every year I take a moment to list my favorite non-traditional Christmas radio stations on the Interwebs. From the klezmer Nutcracker to the reggae Little Drummer Boy, there's something here for everyone. Or at least, everyone I like.
Xmas in Frisco. The one. The only. It makes my list every year and not just because I live in the Bay Area and feel proud of our irretrievably alt sensibilities here. The secret, oh-so-delicious sauce of Xmas in Frisco lives somewhere in the fade between Captain & Tennille's "Tahoe Snow" and a terrifying dark wave version of "Chanukkah, Oh Chanukkah." Between William Hung's Hung for the Holidays and The Partridge Family's A Partridge Family Christmas Card. Between Bootsy Collins and Barney.
Reggae Christmas. Do I really need to say more? This free streaming station delivers exactly what it promises and couldn't be better. Only Jamaicans could make lyrics like "Ra pa pa pom" sound cool and Jacob Miller's enunciation on "It's Christmas time in the GETT-ohh" is deliciously unambiguous. If you don't like this radio station, please make an appointment with your doctor because there's something wrong with you.
The Christmas Lounge. I'm not sure if they're talking about is the VIP kind of lounge or the dentist's office kind but either way, this free Shoutcast station lives up to its name. Airy, synthed-out Christmas covers by bands with names like "Neurobic" are followed by patio-friendly Christmas classics by large assemblages of men wearing polyester pants and playing brass instruments. Either way, there's nary a Celine in sight!
Choirs. This station erases mall trauma faster than a bottle of Christian Brothers brandy. Angelic, profoundly British boarding school students perform under names like "Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum" and create a softly glowing tapestry of sound that evokes Christmas in the purest sense whether a particular track is associated with the holiday or not. Put this one on late at night when you inexplicably feel like staring at the Christmas tree.
Pop Music With Jingle Bells Added. I find this radio station deeply hilarious. If all you need is a subtle touch of Christmas, you can now get your favorite Scissor Sisters, Chromeo, and Neon Neon tracks here... with jingle bells added. Also, they just played the theme from Little House on the Prairie... with jingle bells added.
Wait, They Made a Christmas Record? Yes. Yes, they did. You know why? Because they all do eventually. From the crowded sub-genre of Jews With Christmas Albums (Bob Dylan, Barbara Streisand, Barry Manilow, Bette Midler, Harry Connick Jr., and Mel Torme) to the one where oh so edgy bands like Sonic Youth and Elastica try to deliver tough sounding Christmas tunes, this station is like a sonic advent calendar for hipsters. Treats like the klezmer Nutcracker are thrown in here and there, too. And in the same vein...
The Cutting Edge of Christmas. Yes, Virginia — there really is some decent rock and punk rock Christmas music out there and a lot of it is featured on this station. The website is charmingly cheesy, not least because it's totally unclear at first how to actually listen. (Look for the "listen" Shoutcast link way down at the bottom of the page.)
Well, that's it for this year! A very merry holiday to you and yours. If you have any favorite weird Christmas radio stations, send them to me at shannon (at) boomboxserenade.com