Whether you’re working, reading, cleaning, studying, or just staring at the wall, sometimes it’s nice to have a little noise on in the background to keep you company. Lucky for you, we’ve got a bunch of awesome YouTube channels that are great to have on in the background while you’re busy doing something else.
We included a little bit of everything here, so hopefully, you can find something that suits your needs. Some folks might like music or ambient noise, while others may prefer talking or something a little more structured and we’ve got it all. Everything in our list is pretty easygoing and will work equally well whether you’re tuning out to focus, or looking for something to enjoy while you take a break.
Update, 2/2/22: Verified all links and text up to date. Updated Critical Role’s section to include new campaign.
Excellent International Vinyl Mixes: My Analog Journal
If you love music but need a break from your well-worn playlists, venture on over to My Analog Journal. The laid-back channel is run by a vinyl collector named Zag, and it “explores rare grooves on vinyl.” It’s full of luscious sets from countries and regions (past and present) across the world, like Czechoslovakian Jazz, Female Japanese Singers from the ’80s, and Middle Eastern Grooves.
Occasionally there are guest hosts as well, which just further rounds out the channel’s unique and utterly fantastic sound. The videos have a well-produced feel, with all track names and time stamps listed in the comments. DJs also show you the cover of each vinyl, which are fun to look at and handy to have in case you decide you want to find a copy for your own vinyl library. The videos are all music, with no talking. Nothing but well-curated sets.
For Those Who Prefer the Spoken Word: CrashCourse
We get it. Sometimes music is just way too awesome and distracting to have on while you’re working. That’s why we’re suggesting John and Hank Green’s CrashCourse. Well, that and it’s entertainingly educational. The channel features bite-size educational videos spanning all manner of subjects from biology and chemistry to philosophy and artificial intelligence.
CrashCourse is well-made and interesting, and the instructors are knowledgeable and easy to listen to. The channel is great to have on if you’re just looking to have someone talking in the background, but it’s also a genuinely great resource if you’re trying to learn something new.
Vast Soundscapes: Cryo Chamber
Yeah, that’s right. Vast soundscapes. Cryo Chamber is the go-to channel for lengthy and slow-moving sonic journeys through dark territories. Songs and mixes on the channel are dark ambient themed, centered around topics like the Lovecraft mythos, Cyberpunk ambiance, or dark ambient Gothic Choirs and Ancient Cults.
The channel uses sound effects and tones rather than upbeat music or the spoken word, and its soundscapes are great to have on while you’re focusing on any type of task. Cryo Chamber is also regularly used by Game and Dungeon Masters running Dungeons & Dragons or Call of Cthulhu RPG campaigns for an immersive and ethereal experience.
Chill Lofi Hip Hop: Lofi Girl
Chances are, if you’ve searched for background music on YouTube in recent years, you’ve probably run into a live lofi hip hop video with a cute little anime gif playing on loop. Lofi Girl is one of the more popular lofi options on YouTube, and with good reason. The channel usually has at least one live lofi stream going (if not two or three), but it’s also host to several regular non-live lofi videos.
Lofi hip hop videos are super chill and lowkey, without lyrics or much fanfare besides a beat. Lofi Girl’s channel is known for its consistently well-curated videos with songs that easily flow into each other for a seamless listening experience. And on a small tangent, there are other variations of lofi hip hop videos out there, including one that’s Star Wars themed.
A Narrative Adventure: Critical Role
If it’s storytime or an adventure you’re looking for, Critical Role is here to save the day. We’re big fans of Critical Role here at Review Geek, and its well-produced actual-play Dungeons & Dragons campaigns are the best in the land. The Dungeon Master (DM) and each of the players are all friends and professional voice actors (including the wonderful Laura Bailey and Ashley Johnson of The Last of Us fame), who aren’t afraid to lend their talents to their characters.
Matt Mercer, the group’s long-time DM is also the brilliant and endlessly creative writer of each campaign. Currently, the group is on their third (as-of-yet unnamed) campaign; they started it recently so now’s the time to jump in and start watching. Not too long ago they wrapped up their second campaign, entitled The Mighty Nein, which consists of 143 four-ish-hour sessions. There are also 115 sessions in their first campaign, Vox Machina, which means you’ve got more than enough to listen to and a lifetime of gripping adventures to get caught up on. What more could you really ask for?
Video Game Music Mixes: SuperRedGames
The music that’s in video games is specifically designed to immerse players in the game and help them focus on the tasks at hand, so it’s a natural choice for background music even if you’re not playing a game. SuperRedGames has dozens of videos featuring mixes with a variety of well-known new and classic video game tracks.
Each video features a list of the songs it contains along with their names and time stamps. Some of the video games featured in SuperRedGames’ fun mixes include Animal Crossing, Final Fantasy X, Uncharted 3, Luigi’s Mansion, Super Mario 64, Shadow of the Colossus, Xenoblade Chronicles, Minecraft, Skyrim, Pokemon Omega Ruby, Fable 2, among others.
Funny and Lighthearted Chaos: Good Mythical Morning
Sometimes, the perfect background noise is two good friends joking around with each other and eating weird foods. That’s exactly what Rhett and Link do on Good Mythical Morning. The boys have known each other since first grade and their lifelong friendship (and obligatory lighthearted chaos) is precisely what makes the channel so darn charming.
Typical episodes include things like taste tests, gross food concoctions, international foods, and telling apart different product brands. Most of their videos are food-centric, though they occasionally play games, do experiments, or try weird products from time to time. The videos don’t really have plots and are casual and unscripted, so you can zone out or have a laugh.
Classical Music Playlists: HALIDONMUSIC
Perhaps you’re a person of distinguished taste. If it’s classical music you prefer, take a moment to check out HALIDONMUSIC‘s wonderful classical music playlists. The channel has an extensive collection of videos, with options spanning the Best of X Composer to carefully curated videos dubbed “Classical Music for Reading.” It’s a solid choice for classical music lovers and those looking for brain-engaging music to have on while studying.