8 Great Hanukkah Songs: Counter Christmas With Picks From Kosha Dillz
Hanukkah is a time where Jewish kids like me wonder what we have to do to compete with the amazing Christmas songs destroying our ears at local malls and restaurants. If it is a competition, we have been obliterated. But are there any good Hanukkah songs? The answer is that there almost are, but not really. Christmas has Lauryn Hill, Mariah Carey, Bieber, and that guy who did "Feliz Navidad." Jewish kids have Matisyahu and Adam Sandler and the Haim sisters. (And only two of those three have done Hanukkah Songs!)
I made a list of 8 songs to fill in our 8 candlelit nights that are somewhat relevant. Parodies had to be included. And if you didn't know it was already Hanukkah until reading this article, tonight is the third night. Call your mother!
1. Matisyahu - "Happy Hanukkah" and "Miracle"
It would be a "Miracle" if Matisyahu didn't make "The Hanukkah Song." Both "Miracle" and "Happy Hanukkah" are his Hanukkah hits. For over a decade, Matisyahu would play 8 shows in a row at Music Hall of Williamsburg to sold-out houses with people singing this every night. Besides other hits like "King Without a Crown" and "One Day", he has a Disco Dreidel he hangs at each show during his Festival of Lights tour, which is happening right now. For the Happy Hanukkah song, you can peep the video here, which just broke 1,000,000 views.
His first one, "Miracle," pits him against the enemy of the Maccabees and tells a story of Chanukah on an ice skating rink. Watch that one below.
2. Too Short – "Hanukkah (Favorite Time of the Year)"
Who would think the biggest pimp of the bay would come through with one of the best jams for Hanukkah? Don't call him Too Short, call him Judah Maccabiatch! Oy Vey to the Bay. Watch it below. I never thought I'd say thank you to TMZ for educating me on this one.
3. Lil Dicky – "Save Dat Money"
You might not be thinking this is a traditional Hanukkah song, but let's face it: Lil Dicky created a holiday shopping anthem with Grammy-nominated Fetty Wap. If you haven't spent too much already, this is the reminder before your finish your Hanukkah present shopping. "Save Dat Money" is the jam.
4. Adam Sandler – "The Hanukkah Song Part 4"
"Jared from Subway -- Goddamnit, a Jew." There is no better song of Hanukkah or Chanukkah than the Adam Sandler version. It makes you smile more than smiling exists, and even people who hate Jews for the eternity of time will sing this song it is so good. Neil Diamond even does an animated version of it! Watch that one, too.
5. Maccabeats and Six13 – "Latke Recipe" and "Watch Me (Spin/ Drey Drey)"
The kings of a cappella. Maccabeats are the Jewish Pentatonix. They have partnerships with every JCC in the world, and when they launch their videos, the entire world shifts its attention. For Hanukkah songs aiming toward mothers of three, this group continuously creates awesome. I feel like them and Six13 can have a battle for viral hit of year. Six13 does a DJ mix of Adele and whippin' the nae nae, so they might have cornered the bar mitzvah market. Either way, I need to hook up with these dudes because they are the plug for real gigs in the Jewish music industry. For the Maccabeats, watch the "Shut Up and Dance" parody "Latke Recipe" here.
For Six13, watch the "Watch Me (Spin/ Drey Drey)" for Six13 here. Who do you think is better?
6. The LeeVees – "How Do You Spell Channukkahh?"
There are two questions that every man must answer in his time spent on earth. One is, "What is the meaning of life?" The other would be how to spell Hanukkah. Channukah. Chanukah. Channukkahh? Who cares. This band has classic indie vibes with jamming bass lines and cracking snares. It seems like it could be great for children, but also drunk adults.
"A Spanish kid told me, it starts with a silent J, But Julio was wrong, or maybe he was right / Can someone decide, make up your mind...check spellcheck or Webster is there an answer to my question!?"
How can you not like these riffs? The animation in the video proves it is all good. They also just made a new song with Matisyahu available here.
7. Moshav – "World on Fire" ft. Matisyahu
Possibly the best Israeli American band out right now, but these guys are all about spreading light. Essentially the holiday is all about spreading light in dark times. "The whole world's on fire, flames are getting higher, we'll carry each other, turn around and start all over." A great story: once they were flown out to an island on a private jet, first class, to do a gig with Mariah Carey. That was a Passover gig. Their fans range from ages 3 to 83. They sing in Hebrew and English with a touch of Yemenite chanting on select albums. Watch the amazing video here. It is probably has the best message of all songs and videos posted thus far.
8. Kosha Dillz and Diwon – The 8 Minute Mixtape
The World's Shortest Mixtape! Not sure who had the idea to make the 8-minute mixtape. I think it was mine, or it could've been Diwon, but we figured no one really has any time to do anything too Jewish, so if the most you did for Hanukkah was reading this post, then streaming the 8-minute mixtape would be the most awesome thing you could do (and your mom would be proud of you.) Diwon created bombastic blends from Nicki Minaj to indie garage, to Drake and Shotei Hanevua and Kosha Dillz (me), rapped my tuchis all over it. I kicked some Hebrew rhymes with English and Spanish (like this video), but mostly English, and rapped about food and dancing with a light dreidel-ish foundation. The usual topics you could cover in 8 minutes...you know? My fave line? "Up late for that farbrengen, so what you bringing?" Besides this, we usually end up freestyling about lit menorahs every year, so this came naturally.
- The Yeshiva Boys Choir - "Those Were the Nights (of Chanukah)"
I am really feeling this. I feel like this can be sampled amazingly, but the kids do have a voice and it does feel so epic to be Hanukkah and singing about Bubby and dreidels. "Those were the nights of Chanukah I remember long ago..."
- Lipa Schmeltzer - "Mizrach"
This guy sells out MSG on off nights and is a walking legend in his community. He is the ultra Hasidic version of Yiddish J Pop.
- South Park - "Dreidel Song"
Hanukkah is basically like this. We have a friend like Cartman who just makes fun of us for spinning dreidels. "Jews play stupid games. Jews, that's why their lame!"
- Ari Lesser - "Hanukkah Hip Hop"
If you want someone to break down the Hanukkah in some spoken work style, this is the guy to listen to. "Hanukkah ain't what it used to be." Listen here.
There you have it, ladies and gentleman. Complain all you want! It is tough to pick the best Hanukkah song, but isn't it the goal of a holiday song to make it less-than-obvious it's trying to be a holiday song? On that note, I'm gonna eat some more latkes with apple sauce and sufganiyot.
Kosha Dillz is rapping all over the world this Hannukkah. including 12/12 at Stone Pony, 12/13 at Mercury Lounge, and 12/14 at the Mint in L.A. w/ @diwon. Each show is doing a Hoodies for Hanukkah drive for the needy, so bring your hoodies and give them away instead of keeping for no reason. Follow him @koshadillz and download/stream the 8 Minute Hanukkah mixtape on SoundCloud.