Christmas songs are everywhere right now. Every store, every restaurant and half the radio stations are pumping in the yuletide joy 24/7. This can get you in the Christmas spirit or make you want to invest in ear muffs.
After all, Christmas carols are all over the map in terms of quality. Some are great, and make you pine for December 25. Others should be banned by the US government (I’m looking at you “Christmas Shoes”).
But on my Christmas List, there’s one song that stands out above all the rest: “Carol of the Bells.” To say I’m obsessed with it would be pretty accurate once you see this list below.
Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych brought this masterpiece into the world back in 1914, and over the last 102 years there have been countless renditions and reinterpretations.
Frankly, I’d listen to them all, but for the sake of saving everybody some time this busy season, here are the Top Ten Versions of the Best Christmas Song Ever (According to Me).
10. Capital Kings
Let’s just kick this list off with something different. This Christian Dubstep group (apparently a thing) drops the bass with this high-paced remix of the Christmas classic. Perfect if you’re holding a Christmas party with a little less “silent night” and a little more head banging.
9. Mormon Tabernacle Choir
A 360 person choir, with a full orchestra and dozens of bell ringers… if this doesn’t put you in the spirit, what will?
8. Straight No Chaser
Back before groups like Pentatonix gave the internet a cappella fever, there was Straight No Chaser. In my opinion, there’s still no one who does it better than the guys out of Indiana University, and this rendition of Carol of the Bells will again leave you scratching your head at just how that is just their voices.
Also while you’re at it, be sure and look up their hilarious “12 Days of Christmas”… a true holiday classic.
7. The Piano Guys
From the guys who can make cellos look like the coolest instrument around comes a driving, fast-paced version of the carol that will make you wish you hadn’t quit those music lessons in eighth grade.
6. Family Force 5
If you’ve ever heard Family Force 5’s techno, rock, grunge style you probably either love ‘em or hate ‘em. Same goes for this song. If you’re ready to blast your speakers though, and crank those flashing Christmas lights’ speed up to the max, then you’ve got your guys.
5. Lindsey Stirling
Perhaps the greatest career to ever be launched by YouTube, the techno/hip hop/violinist Lindsey Stirling always puts such passion into her music that you can literally feel it. All of her Christmas songs are worth a listen or two or ten, and this one might be the best, seamlessly mixing in a number of other Christmas carols into this masterpiece: “Celtic Carol.”
Lindsey Stirling has dropped her new Christmas album and on it is her new version of “Carol of the Bells” which is equally stunning, if not more powerful than her first. It definitely earns a spot on the list and we’ll call it a Two-Way Lindsey Stirling tie for fifth!
4. Karol of the Bell (Krampus)
From the 2015 Christmas horror film Krampus comes a dark take on the carol. With redone lyrics to tell of the coming of the fabled anti-Santa, this dark reinterpretation puts the creepy in Christmas.
3. Manheim Steamroller
When Mannheim Steamroller dropped their Christmas album in 1984, it changed the face of holiday music forever. What used to be the domain of choirs, carolers and Bing Crosby was now open to modern synth and pop.
Four years later, their version of “Carol of the Bells” proved that no one could do it quite like the original re-inventor of Yule Tide tunes.
2. US Air Force Band & Singing Sergeants
Hard to find a more beautiful vocal rendition than this. Straight from The Santa Clause soundtrack, when you think “Carol of the Bells” you’re probably thinking this version.
Before we finish, here are three that didn’t quite make the list:
1. Trans-Siberian Orchestra
If you made it this far down the list, you had to guess by now that this was number one. Officially titled “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo,” this song just keeps building and building to a heavy metal finish that only the Wizards of Winter could pull off.
The song was actually originally released by the group Savatage and gained such popularity that the members of the rock band went on to form Trans-Siberian Orchestra to keep the season rocking.
Of the many hundreds of versions out there, none capture the power and musical mastery of “Carol of the Bells” quite like TSO.
So what do you think? Love the list? Hate it? Have another Christmas song you think deserves the Top 10 Countdown treatment? Keep the holiday conversation going on our Facebook page! And have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays.