Every year, as November fades into December, the airwaves become steadily clogged with Christmas tunes. Where does that leave the Jewish listeners, who often feel as though culture overlooks them for a month or so? While they might not get the same airtime as this year's latest pop cover of "Jingle Bell Rock," it turns out that there are quite a few more mainstream Hanukkah tracks than one might think. Here's a roundup of the top 5 Hanukkah songs you really need to hear.
5. Adam Sandler - Hanukkah Song
What would be Hanukkah without Adam Sandler's Hanukkah song? The song originally debuted on Saturday Night Live, but has lived on to resonate with every Jewish kid who ever felt left out as their friends and classmates celebrated Christmas. Over the years, Sandler updated the lyrics, but the central theme stays the same: you're not alone, and Sandler will hilariously list a plethora of Jewish celebrities off to prove it.
4. Shir Soul - I Have A Little Dreidel
For a fun cover of children's favorite song, "I Have A Little Dreidel," the a capella group Shir Soul offer up a unique take on the classic. Incorporating beat boxing, melodies and harmonies, the group manages to sound akin to Pentatonix here. The Shir Soul cover makes for a more pleasant, albeit not quite as hilarious, version of the Dreidel song than the NSFW South Park version.
3. Peter, Paul & Mary - Light One Candle
Who remembers Peter, Paul and Mary from the 1960s, with such tracks as "Puff The Magic Dragon"? Well, it turns out they actually did one heck of a Hannukah song, as well. The song was originally written by Peter Yarrow, the Jew of the group, to voice his feelings about Israel's invasion of Lebanon. Yarrow hoped for the song to have a similar impact to that of Bob Dylan's "Blowing in the Wind" and its relation to the Vietnam War. The song wound up with its Hanukkah association after the group performed it in the United States during several holiday concerts, some of which were filmed and broadcast on television. While Peter, Paul & Mary meant for it to be a song of peace, Jewish families back in the US saw it as a new anthem for their Festival of Lights.
2. Matisyahu - Miracle
Best known for his reggae-influenced sound, the legendary Matisyahu also made a contribution to the Hanukkah spectrum. In "Miracle," he combines the story of the historic miracle of Hanukkah with the struggles of real life in the modern world to create a song many people can connect with. At a time of year where many people often find themselves feeling a little down, "Miracle" reminds us of all that there is to live for.
1. Barenaked Ladies - Hanukkah, O Hanukkah
For their rousing 2004 Barenaked For The Holidays album, the delightful Barenaked Ladies were sure to include a handful of Hanukkah songs alongside the Christmas fare. The Canadian rock group's rousing cover of "Hanukkah, O Hanukkah" will make everyone, Jewish or not, want to jump up and dance the hora. What the world really needs is for more artists to follow suit, including a fair share of Hanukkah songs alongside their other holiday offerings.