There’s so much to look forward to during Hanukkah: the latkes, the parties, the gifts, … and the annual release of Hanukkah music videos. From Jewish girl band Haim taking on Adam Sandler’s classic to 8th Day’s techno Hanukkah original, it’s been a great year for Hanukkah music making.
Let’s break it down:
The American pop rock trio HAIM is made up of sisters Alana, Danielle and Este Haim. Born to Israeli parents in Los Angeles, the band came onto the music making scene in 2013 with the release of their first album, “Days Are Gone,” in 2013.
Last week, HAIM dropped a special on Twitter to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah. “First night of Haimukkah. Sandler we’re coming for you,” the tweet references Adam Sandler’s “The Hanukkah Song” which he first performed on Saturday Night Live in 1996.
first night of haimukkah ✡️ sandler we’re coming for you pic.twitter.com/E58paQp0mu
— HAIM (@HAIMtheband) December 12, 2017
The video starts out with Este Haim on bass, wrapped in blue and silver tinsel.
“Shred me like a potato latke/ You be the Manischewitz/ And I’ll be the vodka/ Like a page out of the Torah/ You light me up like I’m a menorah,” she sings in a powerful voice while slamming the bass. In the background, Alana and Este chime in together, “Light me up like I’m a menorah.”
It’s marvelous. Sandler, you’ve been warned.
This year, like most, Orthodox male a cappella groups dominate the Hanukkah vid scene. This time, New York-based Six13 (get it, like the 613 mitzvot/commandments), put a Yiddische edge on a nineties classic.
The lyrics for “A Nice Jewish Boy Band Chanukah” transform in unsurprising ways: Backstreet Boys’ “I want it that way,” becomes “I made it out of clay.” It then moves into “Our lights lasting eight days,” from *NSYNC’s “It’s Gonna be Me,” and finishes strong with the Spice Girls’ “If you wanna be my latke, you gotta get in my pan.”
Unlike Haim’s lyrics, Six 13 appears to lack any awareness of innuendo. Still, very catchy.
Next we have California-based 8th Day’s “Miracle of Light” from brothers Shmuel and Bentzion Marcus.
The nephews of Jewish musical institution, Avraham Fried, the brothers have been making original music since 2004. The band name apparently harkens to the Jewish holiday of Shemini Atzeret (literally the “eighth gathering”), which is Shmuel’s birthday.
8th Day’s new Hanukkah video starts with a fun techno beat, strobe lights, smoke machines — and plenty of jumping up and down. Fittingly for the Festival of Lights, the song is about bringing miracles into dark spaces, “blow smoke in the face of darkness, set fires to burn up the night,” they sing. “I’ll be a miracle of light.”
Check it out for yourself.
The original inventors of the Hanukkah a cappella YouTube video, the Maccabeats, celebrated 10 years of music making with their video, “Candles on the Sill,” based on Ed Sheeren’s “Castle on the Hill.
“This year’s Hanukkah video, 10 years in the making,” their Facebook page announced. “The story of our own personal Hanukkah miracle and how you’ve all been a better gift than we could have ever imagined.”
A decade ago, the group came together as students at Yeshiva University. Their breakout song, “Candlelight,” a Hanukkah-themed version of Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite, established their broader fame in 2010 and currently has over 13 million views on YouTube. “Candles of a Sill” is lagging at 200k views to date.
The Y-Studs of Yeshiva University fame did a recreation of Andra Day’s “Rise Up.” Their version tells a story of a Jewish girl uninterested in accepting a menorah from a young man handing them out on the street, but who takes a Hanukkah party flyer anyway.
Minutes later she sees the young man being harassed on the street for his Jewish identity. The story continues with the young man finding a swastika and the words, “Dirty Jew!!!” graffitied on his door.
In the meantime, the girl decides to go the the Hanukkah party. She finds the dejected young man and asks for a menorah. The end.
Great storytelling, pleasant voices. Don’t miss it.
The ghosts of Hanukkahs past
Classics deserved to be mentioned lest we forget, particularly in the prepubescent child band category. Honorable mentions from past years go to the Miami Boys Choir’s “Light Up the Nights” and the Yeshiva Boys Choir, “Those Were the Nights (of Chanukah).”
Many have tried, few have managed to create a hit quite as high pitched and addictive as the Miami Boys Choir’ “Light Up the Nights.” Unfortunately, because the song was originally released in 1997, there’s no great video on YouTube and isn’t on Spotify. On the up side, there is a YouTube video mashup featuring MBC’s “greatest dance hits” with “Light Up the Nights” leading the list. Check it out for yourself, add it to your workout playlist and see how fast you run.
Then you have The Yeshiva Boys Choir’s “Those Were the Nights (of Chanukah).” The musical children’s group brings a mix of emotion and nostalgia, telling the tale of a family that gets together for Hanukkah every year. Learn the words and then dramatically recite the song by memory at any Hanukkah party this season and you’re sure to be a hit.
That’s all till next year!