Now that Thanksgiving is over, America is in Christmasland full force. Theme parks and department stores have brought out their holiday cheer, Starbucks announced its holiday cup and several radio stations have switched to musical playlists consisting of same 20 Christmas songs just sung by different artists (and let’s be honest, this all started the day after Halloween).
But what if you don’t celebrate Christmas? Were Jews so busy writing the best Christmas music that they left nothing for the tribe members? “I Have A Little Dreidel” isn’t exactly topping the holiday charts and can’t compete with Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas.”
Adam Sandler tried to resolve this issue by writing and performing the “Hanukkah Song” on Saturday Night Live. Hats off to you, Sandler but there’s gotta be more than that.
Hanukkah starts Dec. 2 and if you are looking for tunes to blast at your Festival of Lights party, fear not. Here’s a list of eight Hanukkah songs that will blow “Rock of Ages” out of the water.
“Hot Rod Hanukkah” By Meshugga Beach Party
If surf rock is your music of choice then “Hot Rod Hanukkah” should be the first song in your playlist. Jewish surf rock group Meshugga Beach Party has been performing Jewish-influenced surf songs in the Bay Area since 2003 and while the band dresses modestly, their music is far from conservative. The song, which is from the album of the same name, offers a fun upbeat twist for Hanukkah.
“8 Days (of Hanukkah)” By Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
The late Sharon Jones merges Motown and Judaism all in one probably creating the most soulful Hanukkah song to date. The Grammy winner kicked off her holiday album, “It’s A Holiday Soul Party” with this upbeat groove and, between riffing the rules of Dreidel and the saxophone solos, this gem should be played year round.
“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” actress and writer, Rachel Bloom, performs a parody of Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby” by showing how Jewish girls would seduce nice Jewish boys during the holiday season. This is just one of the songs from the 2013 album “Suck It, Christmas (A Chanukah Album)” featuring Bloom, who is Jewish, referencing camp memories, menorahs and family friends. Funny yes, but not for the faint of heart. Listener discretion is advised.
“Candlelight – Hanukkah” By The Maccabeats
In 2010, Jewish a cappella group the Maccabeats transformed Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite” and made a viral Jewish Hanukkah parody called “Candlelight.” This song, which now has more than 14 million views, started the wave of Jewish a cappella holiday music and continues to be shared by rabbis and teens alike each year.
“How Do You Spell Channukkahh?” By the LeeVees
New York performers Adam Gardner and Dave Schneider answer the question many ask in their lifetimes with this Hanukkah jam. The LeeVees formed in 2005 after realizing there were no contemporary Jewish rock songs to blast on the radio. Ever since, they have been creating original Jewish music including their recent 2017 Hanukkah album, “Hanukkah Rocks.” For a bonus song, here is “Nun, Gimmel, Heh Shin.”
“The Hanukkah Song – 8 Days and Nights” By Adam Chester
Written and performed by pianist Adam Chester, a.k.a. the Surrogate Elton John, this slower jam tells the story of the Hanukkah miracle and how we can celebrate miracles around us. The repetitive chorus is not only catchy it’s great for kids who are learning about the holiday.
“[I’m Spending] Hanukkah In Santa Monica” By Tom Lehrer
If there’s no schmaltz at Hanukkah did you really celebrate Hanukkah? For those who don’t wish to see snow in December Tom Lehrer’s hoaky but fun tune is for you. Before Sandler was rhyming Jews, there was Lehrer, who rhymed Jewish holidays with almost anything.
“Don’t Let Me Down” By The Y-Studs
Before a cappella group, the Y-Studs went viral from their song “Evolution of Jewish Music” they were creating fun Jewish renditions and mash-ups of various songs in pop-culture. In 2016, these nice Jewish Boys from Yeshiva University released a Hanukkah inspired version of “Don’t Let Me Down” based on The Chainsmokers’ “Don’t Let Me Down” and “Closer.” Hebrew prayers for the holiday and the original song intertwine so well you won’t realize you’re listening to a different song. This song is a great pump-up jam for those who love intricate music.
BONUS SONG: “Bohemian Chanukah (A Queen Adaptation)” By Six13
On Tuesday, Nov. 27 Jewish a cappella group Six13 released their Hanukkah song for the 2018 year and already received more than 70,000 views in less than 24 hours. This creative homage to Queen’s rock anthem “Bohemian Rhapsody” blows many a cappella paradies out of the water showing how far Jewish a cappella has come. The words, music and attention to detail come together perfectly making this the ultimate Hanukkah song of the year.