Your in-laws are criticizing your carving skills, Grandma Edith's guzzling the port, and the tree's catching fire. Yes, Christmas can feel so predictable. Take a break from the melodrama with Download's favorite festive music apps.
Bjork: Solstice (iOS)Bjork is far out, and that's why we love her. Based on the track "Solstice" from the Icelandic singer's "Biophilia" album, this free app allows you to pull rays out of a sun to create harp strings that are then plucked by orbiting planets. With a tilting motion, your creation morphs into a 3D Christmas tree kissed by falling snowflakes. What's more, you can send a touching Solstice e-card directly from the app.
Christmas Music: 10,000 Free Christmas Songs + Downloads (iOS)Christmas music can be joyous and heartwarming -- until you've heard the same dozen songs on repeat for a month, particularly Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You." That's why you want Christmas Music, which offers a seemingly endless supply of new and classic holiday songs by lesser-known indie artists. This bare-bones app lists the songs -- buy the $2.99 version to get all 10,000 -- on one page, so you can select your favorites, play them over the app, or download them to play over iTunes.
StarComposer: Festive Mashup (iOS)Start your own Christmas cover band with StarComposer: Festive Mashup (99 cents), a fun, intuitive app that will bring you and your crew plenty of joy. Choose your band's avatars and favorite musical genres (dance, dubstep, metal, reggae, rock, RnB, reggae, and more), record your vocals with the built-in mic, and soon you'll have your own music video mashup of "Jingle Bells" or "Auld Lang Syne" to share over social media.
Sing Along Christmas Carols Free (iOS)It was tough being a caroler in the old days, when door-to-door entertainers had to memorize their material -- and perform while drunk. Thankfully, now you can refer to this helpful app, which highlights lyrics for easy singalong while a piano plays in the background. You'll get favorites like "Deck the Halls," "Jingle Bells," and "We Three Kings of Orient Are," and you can unlock two others if you leave a review and share the app with a friend. If you get tired of those songs, buy the paid version ($4.99) for 50 more carols.
Christmas Piano With Free Songs (iOS)The sister app for Sing Along Christmas Carols Free, Christmas Piano With Free Songs lets you sing along to classic Christmas songs ("Deck the Halls," "Jingle Bells," and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas") and also play them on your onscreen keyboard with or without lyrics. The app has several different modes, such as Theme, Left Hand, Right Hand, and Both Hands, depending on whether you want to tickle the ivories, share the burden with a fellow piano player, or go all out on the keyboard. We like that the app lets you adjust octave, tempo, and (most importantly for those with big, clumsy fingers) key width, sharp width, and sharp height.