Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Matisyahu "Miracle"

So I got this message from an old friend, over the weekend . . .

I'm writing to throw down the gauntlet. I realize that you are turning to Christmas on your blog. However, in the spirit of our UMASS background, I'd like to challenge your musicological expertise to find a great Chanukah song. (Choosing Adam Sandler's song would constitute automatic forfeiture.) If you are successful, I will include your pick and blog link in my social media networks. If you are not successful, your having listened to all the heinous Chanukah music out there is punishment enough. My pick to date would be Stephen Page & the Bare Naked Ladies' Hanukkah Blessings.

Your former RA,

Well she's right. Despite giving a pretty thorough run-down of Jewish songwriters who've penned Christmas tunes, I haven't posted anything Chanukah-related. Is it because (as she intimates) there aren't any good Chanukah songs?

I wracked by brain for a bit, and the first things that came to mind were pretty goofy---nothing that could hold up to the religious reverence of "Do You Hear What I Hear?" or the secular reverence of "White Christmas."

Then again, the majority of Christmas hits are way over the novelty border, too (Rudolph, Frosty, Gramma Got Run Over By A Reindeer, You're A Mean On Mr. Grinch, etc).

So here are a few faves, ordered from most reverent to least (while still staying on the tasteful side of that fence, for the most part).

Let's start with painfully earnest:

Hear Peter Paul and Mary on Youtube.

This brand new Matisyahu song is also earnest, coming out of the artist's desire "to get across some of the depth and spirituality inherent in the holiday in a fun, celebratory song." Lyrically, it does that. So don't be fooled by the super-goofy video.

See "Miracle" on Youtube.

The Maccabeats also seem pretty earnest. But the "Glee"/Boy Band vibe isn't my style. But I suppose if you are trying to explain The Festival Of Lights to "Glee" and Boy Band fans, it's a pretty solid genre-effort.

Hear "Candlelight" on Youtube.

And while this scene from "Colbert Christmas" is slathered in holiday irony, it does neatly, sweetly, smartly portray the awkward compare/contrast game that inevitably ensues when Jews try to explain Chanukah to their unaware Christian friends.

Check out "Can I Interest You In Hannukah?" on Youtube.

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