For most people Hanukkah is a time to be spent enjoying the company for friends and family, eating good food, and hey, maybe watching that cheeky holiday video your mom sent you. For those of us here at Heeb HQ, though, Hanukkah is when we batten down the hatches and brace ourselves for the inevitable onslaught of Hanukkah covers, spoofs and (*shudder*) a cappella parodies that flood our inboxes the closer we get to lighting that first candle. It’s not that there isn’t a place for a clever youtube video aor two – there is – but after a certain, repetitious point the standard formula becomes downright insufferable:
“Song that was popular 3 months ago” + “Something that rhymes with ‘latke and/or dreidel'” + “Shot of family standing around lit candles.” Lather, rinse, repeat ad nauseam…
Once is cute. Twice is…fine, I guess? Anything more than that, and I risk putting my fist through my laptop screen (and billing the Maccabeats for the damage)
Speaking of The Maccabeats, here are the worst Hanukkah parody offenders of 2014
Artist: The Maccabeats
Song: All About That Neis
Cover of: Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass
Why It Stinks: In terms of generating oodles of bad holiday parody video karma, Yeshiva University’s a cappella superstars are patient zero. They may not have invented the genre, but they certainly gave it a rocket-propelled boost into the 21st century. Unfortunately, we’ve been paying for it ever since. While I can’t really fault them for sticking with what works, their “All About That Neis” [Heb: “Miracle”] plays like an uninspired rehash of everything that’s come before it, right down to the be-toga’d Greeks from their 2010 breakout hit. Are they even trying anymore? Do they even care? Or are they content to sit atop their Hanukkah parody throne, entirely unaware of leaner, hungrier contenders for their dubious crown.
Speaking of whom…
Song: Chanukah (Shake It Off)
Cover of: Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off
Why It Stinks: Another entry in the “just a group of guys, dancin’ around, having fun!” category, as if the sum total of being in a Jewish singing group is to make Carlton Banks seem like a narcoleptic. At least this guys – who bill themselves as “the originators of today’s Jewish a cappella sound” – seem to realize that they look like total goobers, and are having some fun with it. That said, in choosing to parody Taylor Swift’s ode to haters hating, they’ve reminded me that “Shake It Off” existed in the first place. And that’s unforgivable.
Artist: Elliot Dvorin/Key Tov Orchestra
Song: Hanukkah Song Mashup – Dance Spectacular!
Cover of: Adam Sandler’s The Hanukkah Song, Sivivon Sov Sov Sov (Trad.), Flory Jagoda’s Ocho Kandelikas, The Maccabeats’ Candlelight (Orig. Taio Cruz’s Dynamite), Oh Hanukkah (Trad.)
Why It Stinks: If you could grab a Youtube video and wring it out, this one would be dripping with enough schmaltz to turn Paula Deen vegetarian. Impressive for the sheer size of its production, the “Holiday Song Mashup – Dance Spectacular!” commits the cardinal sin of covering an already insufferable cover: The aforementioned Maccabeat’s 2010 “Candlelight” – itself a parody of Taio Cruz’ “Dynamite.” Have we really become so desperate that our parodies are eating themselves? Just an ouroboros of saccharine holiday smarm. I bet Kwanza never had to put up with this shit.
Song: Lights: Official AISH Hanukkah Song 2014
Cover of: N/A
Why It Stinks: Ignore both the painfully generic imagery and melody, and instead look at these bars from the “sensitive white guy raps” portion of the song:
But you can’t ever take my light //
Cause it shine from a hope inside //
That we draw from the one above //
I can stand cause you hole me up //
Notice anything weird? Like how literally none of those lines rhyme?
Artist: Radioactive Chicken Heads
Song: Burning Latkes
Cover of: Elvis Presley’s Burning Love
Why It Stinks: We all know that “you come at the king, you best not miss” – Unfortunately, rock and rollers Radioactive Chicken Heads must not have seen that episode when the decided to go after Elvis Presley’s iconic “Burning Love.” It’s just too obvious – Frying latkes and burning love. Not exactly a colossal leap of lyrical prowess. Plus, if you’re gonna spoof Elvis, you ought to be able to sing like the man. Sorry guys – better just stick with the (genuinely fun!) rock and roll mutant stuff.
All this isn’t to say there haven’t been some decent Hanukkah videos this year. There have, and perhaps I’ll compile those for another post. In the meantime, though, bask in the warming glow of my personal favorite hanukkah video of all time – 2012’s “Dreidel Song” from New Orleans sissy bounce superstar Katey Red:
Happy Hanukkah, everyone!