Hanukkah, holidays, Judaism, media, YouTube

Hanukkah: It’s all about the music

Music is appropriate for a ton of things, like having a good time (or getting through a bad time…) and holidays are no different in this matter. And while everyone knows the famous X-mas songs (whether they like them or not), for Hanukkah, one might think the chosen people certainly don’t have much to choose from when it comes to serenading one another amongst the holiday season. Sure everyone knows Maos Tzur and whatever tune they have for Haneiriot Hallalu, but after those two, the traditional options of song become much limited in genre (and in overall quality).

There’s I had a Little Dreidel, Sevivon Sov Sov Sov, Oh Hanukkah Oh Hanukkah (come light the menorah, let’s dance a party, let’s all dance the hora) – actually my fondest memory of that song is hearing Sharon, Lois & Bram sing it on cassette in kiddish when I was 4 or 5, and pretty much any other Judaic-ridden jam to your classic clarinet based Klezmer melody. It’s the reform Jew’s childhood taste of what you believed to be Jewish music.

However in today’s and age with the saturation of pop culture into every little thing that’s produced and published, Hanukkah music has become a beacon of this cultural movement (dare, I call it an evolution). Sure you can argue that we Jews are just really far behind Christians and the their permeation of pop culture into the holiday spirit with its Coca Cola Santa Claus, to the melodic incantations of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Rocking around the Christmas Tree, Frosty the Snowman,  all those “Charlie Brown-like” Christmas themed episodes and the realization that literally every single music artist known to man has created a Christmas Album. But besides the copy-cat process of Hanukkah themed television episodes – Rugrats rings a giant bell here, as well as Hanukkah-themed movies with it’s own original songs – See Adam Sandler’s now classic Eight Crazy Nights, Hanukkah music has taken on a brand new life with the rise of user-created material and the recent innovations of media sharing that make it so easy for anyone and everyone from all corners of the world to hear/see it.

Look no further for an example of this then Candlelight, the You Tube sensation by the Maccabeats, the all-male a capella group based out of Yeshiva University in Manhattan. The Taio Cruz Dynamite parody has spawned over 2.3 million views in just under two weeks of being published on You Tube. The band and the video have been featured on several news outlets including CNN, The Huffington Post, an even garnered a spot on a local CBS station in New Jersey.

Yes, I’ve ragged on the video, but not because of it’s content and quality (even though I’ll take this over a pop cover any day). My ranting was a result of the overblown linking and posting of this video on my Facebook wall over the span of a few days that made me wonder if the world had stopped to watch this video and forget about everything else in the world. But as I’ve come to realize, whether you like it or not, the success of the video speaks volumes to not only the creativity of the band to make such a hit, but on their awareness of societal tendencies to clamour towards timely viral productions. And for that I say yasher koach to the guys for their 15 minutes (…I mean 8 days) of fame and I look forward to their next big hit about how “they tried to kill us, failed, so we feast” celebration.

As for me, I’m actually more impressed with this video:

The aforementioned synagogue – Chabad Flamingo, is located right across the street from my house (and is also the same place where I got to see Stephen Harper in the flesh). The shul is typically fantastic with it’s PR creations, but this one is by far the most impressive I’ve seen a very long time. Not since I’ve seen a similar feature on Purim in the very same locationof Yonge and Dundas Square in Toronto have I seen a more awesome video about cool Jews and the holidays they celebrate.

So whether or not you’re jamming to Sandler’s Hanukkah Song, Paul Zim’s classic cassette, punk rock Jews, or whatever’s playing on the Hanukkah Channel on XM Satellite radio…. may that tune be a happy one, during this very happy time.


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