The Festival of Lights
Instead of one day of presents
We have eight crazy nights!”
Those are the words famously sung by Adam Sandler on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update on December 3rd, 1994. By that point, Sandler had become known for his Saturday Night Live comical singing, the most notable thus far being his Thanksgiving song.
Most modern Jews have spent the last 25 or so years listening to and singing the Sandler Hanukkah song, including myself, and for good reason. The lyrics are relatable, funny, and creative. The song is still relevant decades later.
While I could write an entire article on Sandler’s Hanukkah song, I would like to embark upon a different mission.
Modern Christmas music is a massive industry. There are so many famous, recent Christmas songs. However, I have never been aware of more than a handful of recent Hanukkah songs, or songs about any of the Jewish holidays at all. As someone who is always either listening to music, teaching music, or playing music, it is a meaningful project to be able to explore this genre of music and share my findings.
Recently, I stumbled upon a 2018 article by Time Out, titled “Eight Days of Hanukkah Songs to Listen To.” The article is a list of 20 songs from the last few decades. Each song is related to Hanukkah in some form, and many are comical as well. Included in this list, of course, is Sandler’s song. I believe I speak for many people when I say that song will always be my favorite. So, while picking my top ten songs from that article, I have decided to exclude Sandler’s from my own list. It is a given that the song is amazing– an instant classic. Therefore, by excluding it, I am giving the less popular songs a chance to shine without being overshadowed by Sandler.
The following is a list of my ten favorite modern Hanukkah songs, assisted by Time Out’s article. The songs will be ordered from least appealing to my very favorite.
10. “[I’m Spending] Hanukkah in Santa Monica” by Tom Lehrer
While this song is short and ultimately lacking depth, the local reference and fun tune deserve acknowledgment.
9. “I Want a Hippopotamus for Hanukkah” by The Jimmies
Not every song has to have a point. That is exemplified here. I cannot deny that it is a fun song, so I am including it.
8. “Chanukah [Shake it Off]” by Six13
I am personally not a fan of Taylor Swift, to the point where I was considering not even including this song in the article. However, the creativity of this song cannot be ignored.
7. “Hanukkah Song” by Too $hort
This is the closest that this list gets to providing us with a rap song, which for me was quite unexpected!
6. “Candlelight” by The Maccabeats
A discussion of Jewish music would be incomplete without mentioning the Maccabeats. This song, “Candlelight”, is based on the classic early 2000’s song, “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz.
5. “8 Nights of Hanukkah” by Pella
A classic A Cappella mashup, with a Jewish twist!
4. “Hanukkah Blessings” by the Barenaked Ladies
Who knew that the Barenaked Ladies were Jewish? This song juxtaposes a unique beat with classic messages and terminology.
3. “How Do You Spell Channukkahh?” by The LeeVees
This song describes the classic mix-up that we all experience. Not only is the song relatable, but it also has great musical qualities.
2. “Miracle” by Matisyahu
“Miracle” has a modern sound and a fantastic music video, which earns it the spot as second best on my list.
1. “8 Days [Of Hanukkah]” by Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings
This song is bursting with joy and inspires us to feel love this season. I will definitely be adding it to my holiday playlists.