First off, no one in America can help but notice that Christmas corners the mass-popularity market in holiday songs. That is no surprise, and I enjoy a good number of them. Chanukah songs are a much smaller market, and some of them are just as treacly as any other holiday song that you’d rather not hear over and over. However, a little research on my part allows me to offer a Chanukah playlist that you might enjoy. If you want to find my choices all in one place, I’ve made it into a Spotify playlist.
Feast of Lights –They Might Be Giants. Just as quirky and original a song as you would expect from TMBG.
Miracle – Matisyahu. Yes, the Orthodox Jewish reggae artist leaves his mark on the festival of lights.
Chanukah Song – Adam Sandler. Thank you, Adam Sandler, for bringing us one of our few mass-market popular songs for Chanukah. It’s not quite as funny without the element of surprise, but still worth it.
Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah – Barenaked Ladies. A surprisingly straightforward rendition, but these guys are talented enough to keep the cheese factor to a minimum.
How Do You Spell Channukkahh? – The LeeVees. A pop enlightenment that explains the spelling of, for example, the two titles above. Set to a good groove, you’ll be nodding your head all the way through (both in rhythm and in agreement).
Happy Joyous Hanukkah – Indigo Girls. It’s an unexpectedly old-fashioned folksy offering from the queens of neo-folk.
Oh Hanukkah – Meshugga Beach Party. I can’t tell you how much I love this. Most of this album is a hoot, but I now can’t get through the season without at least one listen to the surf-music rendition of this particular song.
Spin Dreidel Spin – The Klezmatics. Klezmer is no new invention, but there’s nothing dusty about The Klezmatics.
The Great Menorah Debate – Neal Katz. A lesson in a song, but deftly delivered. If you didn’t know about this part of the Chanukah tradition (or even if you do), you may find it interesting.
(I’m Spending) Hanukkah in Santa Monica – Tom Lehrer. I spent many enjoyable hours listening to comedy albums with my family, and Tom Lehrer was often in rotation. A combination of nostalgia and true enjoyment of his goofy rhymes put this number on my playlist.
Hanukkah Dance – Woodie Guthrie. It’s a fun, earnest, pretty goyishe rendition of a Chanukah song, but I love Woodie Guthrie and find this number appealing. I hope you agree.
The Hanukkah Waltz – Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Bela Fleck and the Flecktones unleash their inner klesmerim with great skill and groove.