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Harmonies for Hanukkah

The yearly phenomena of holiday tunes are creeping their way back into the speakers and stereos of folks tuning in to hear that jingle jangle. There is no shortage to the slew of Bublè's and Carey’s waxing poetic about Santa Clause’s misdeeds with my mother. I am sure those who celebrate Christmas are jolly and content with the onslaught of music available to consume. When it comes to other forms of holiday music, while there is a lot out there, the universal recognition seems to be lacking. I feel that the topic of Hanukkah music always comes with the context of there being an abundance of Christmas music, usually remarked as “there’s so much Christmas Music - I wonder if there’s any music for Hanukkah … there’s that dreidel dreidel one … oh and that Adam Sandler song … so funny!”

A trend I’ve found with holiday music is it usually falls into four categories: old, mold, sold, and gold. "Old" is the classic Christmas music we’ve come to love and associate with claymation films, school parties, and church choirs. This is stuff with long titles and archaic words like: O Come All Ye Faithful, Hark the Herald Angles Sing, and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. While these rock, I’m searching for more contemporary music that doesn’t give me communion vibes. The next category is "mold", these are the songs that are forgotten for a reason. They are nothing but carol fodder, and are usually only heard when they’re played by some kid’s iPad with no headphones, while a ball bounces on every lyric. The "sold" category is the music that was created during the capitalistic takeover of the holidays. This is where musicians started to create these classic tunes in order to turn a couple bucks in to record label. This is where you start to see your Frank Sinatra's and your Bing Crosby’s make Rudolph’s journey as sexy as can be. While these have their merits, I’ve grown tired of hearing these crooners mope about not being home for Christmas. Finally, the section I aspire to source my playlist from: the "gold". These are the few tracks that slip through the blizzard of holiday albums that evoke the feelings of the holidays while also just being really great music.

I needed my gold songs to really jam out to this Festival of Lights. The quest clear, I was to compile a playlist of golden Hanukah jams that provide me with the dopamine and catchiness that the songs of Christmas fervently provide. One of the factors that needs to be considered is: replay-ability. This jam has to be palatable for eight nights straight. I wanted to avoid a nonsensical Hanukkah playlist, like some of the other ones I saw. Many of them it was clear the creator was desperately trying to get any sort of Jewish sounding song under one banner. I didn’t want to fill out the playlist with songs based on their titles containing either Menorah or Dreidel. (Despite Dreidel by Don Mclean being the premiere song). After scouring the internet and listening to as much as possible this holiday season, I have complied a playlist of 8 golden Hanukkah songs (one for every night). Available right now to the Jewish and gentile public on Spotify. The playlist is called: "Maccabeatz". Funny right? I made the title before I realized there was a band called Maccabeats - and now I am just ashamed, but I think it’s just too good not to be there. Great minds right?

The Playlist Features:

1. “Driedel” by Don McLean

2. “Sevivion Sov, Sov, Sov” by Kenny Ellis

3. “Chanukah in West Virginia” by Scott Simmons

4. “Applesauce vs. Sour Cream” by The LeeVees

5. “Feast of Lights” by They Might Be Giants

6. “Chiribim Chiribom” by The Barry Sisters

7. “Rock of Ages” by Ben Kweller

8. “This Little Light of Mine” by Julie Silver

May you find peace and love this holiday season, thank you for checking out the playlist. Happy Hanukkah! Happy Holidays!


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