Hanukkah starts at sundown, which means plenty of folks around the world will be lighting menorahs and makin’ latkes and dippin’ them in apple sauce or sour cream or some other preferred sauce (or lack thereof). It also means eating delicious sufganiyot (jelly donuts), spinnin’ dreidel and trying to eat as much gelt (chocolate coins) as possible (by winning at dreidel).
We hear plenty of Christmas tunes around this time, but little to no attention is paid to music written for the eight-day Festival Of Lights, as it’s called. At this point, it’d be worth noting that Matisyahu’s written a pretty good essay for NPR about why that is, and you can check it out here.
In light (see what I did there?) of Matisyahu’s essay and the fact that there are plenty of Hanukkah tunes that aren’t your usual “Ma’oz Tzur” or “Hava Nagila” (though this Dick Dale version of it is pretty great) and are too humourous not to share, here are eight great, funny Hanukkah songs:
South Park – “The Dreidel Song”
Kyle attempts to teach Ike how to play dreidel, but he fails, and then Cartman ruins the fun by being a big jerk. Somehow Cartman manages to get away with being an ass and making fun of Hanukkah without Kyle’s parents hearing him. Figure that one out. Maybe it’s because they’re both fighting over Courtney Cox (who, no, isn’t Jewish).
The Maccabeats – Candlelight
There are tons of parodies of popular songs that have been turned into Hanukkah songs, and this is a new one. The Maccabeats have taken the story of Hanukkah and turned it into a hilarious tune based on Taio Cruz’ “Dynamite.”
The LeeVees – “Gelt Melts”
The LeeVees have an entire album full of Hanukkah songs, and this one’s on it. You know how Christians sometimes give each other chocolate coins during the holidays? Chocolate coins are a Hanukkah thing, though Christians giving each other coins may or may not be related to or borrowed from the tradition of gelt at Hanukkah. This tune, which is about the chocolate coins that really do melt quite fast and end up turning to liquid if you put them in your pocket, is basically an homage to the Ramones. In case you weren’t aware, Joey Ramone was Jewish. Tommy Ramone is also Jewish.
Gods Of Fire – “Eight Days Of Victory”
The story of Hanukkah’s pretty freakin’ metal, so… why hasn’t anyone made a Hanukkah metal album? They have! New York’s Gods Of Fire put out an album called Hanukkah Gone Metal last year, which is about Judah Maccabee and his family’s struggle against the Greeks. This tune’s the first track, and it’s something Dio would really have dug, even though he was all about the Christmas tunes.
Tom Lehrer – “Hanukkah In Santa Monica”
Tom Lehrer was recording hilarious Hanukkah songs and other satirical tunes way before anyone else. This one lampoons ’50s songs and wanting to get the eff out of New York and go somewhere much warmer to light your candles.
Chevonne – “My Menorah”Sure, there are plenty of hilarious Hanukkah tunes. But hilarious Hanukkah tunes about sweet, sweet lovin’ done in the Sade style? Very hard to come by. Chevonne has fixed this.
Eric Schwartz – “Chocolate Coins”
Comedian Eric Schwartz arrives as the spirit of Elijah at a family’s Hanukkah party to show them how dreidel’s really meant to be spun. I’m not sure how fast you have to spin a dreidel to put a hole in the floor, but that’s some pretty epic spinnage. And thanks to him, grandma now has her very own grills because he always wins.
Adam Sandler – “Chanukah Song”
We know it’s kind of ubiquitous, but you kind of can’t do a list without putting Adam Sandler’s “Chanukah Song” on it. Aside from South Park‘s version of “The Dreidel Song,” this might be one Hanukkah song most people are pretty familiar with.