Earlier this week, Dan Brosgol blogged about a Chanukah song dating back at least to the 1940s that has been a tradition in his family... and seemingly no one else's. But the sad truth that Dan dodges in his post is that most Chanukah music from this century just isn't very good. It tends to fall into one of two categories: novelty or insipid.
The novelty songs might be entertaining for a year or two, but they don't have staying power. Really, Adam Sandler, we dont' need another edition of your Chanukah song. The full-length animated feature you wrang out of that was the cinematic equivalent of beating a dead horse. But I digress.
The insipid songs are generally harmless when constrained to their intended audience, which I am charitably assuming is the pre-school set. There is the danger of a novelty song overstaying its welcome and crossing over into the insipid category, Exhibit A: the "Eight Days of Chanukah" song set to the tune of the late 60's pop song "Those Were the Days" (which was in turn based on and older Russian song).
Each year I spend the month before Chanukah assessing what's new in the world of Chanukah music, spending more money on iTunes gathering both the insipid and the novel than I care to admit. And now I share some of my favorites from the last few years with you.
Ocho Kandelikas is a great Ladino Chanukah song in its own right, but this hip-hop rendition by Hip Hop Hoodios brings it to another level.
Two years ago, Michelle Citrin & William Levin, a team who specialize in making Jewish viral videos, put together this video with help from fans around the world. Michelle parlayed her success into a gig co-writing the score to the Broadway-bound musical version of Sleepless in Seattle.
Yidcore is my favorite Jewish Punk Rock band. They've covered the Adam Sandler Song, but on principle I won't include that here. They also have a great response song called "Why Won't Adam Sandler Let Us Sing His Song," but that doesn't appear to have a video on YouTube. So instead I give you their "They Tried To Kill Us, They Failed, Let's Eat!" The song isn't specifically about Chanukah, but it fits the general ethos of the holiday, don't you think?
I could keep doing this all day, but we've got a whole month ahead for sharing Chanukah songs. But I'd be remiss if I didn't leave you with at least one of the songs that defies categorization, transcending both "novelty" and "insipid" categories to become something... indescribable: