Does the flurry of new music videos that greets every Jewish holiday reflect an assimilationist Jewish culture that has lost its identity to Western culture, as some critics suggest? Or is it the opposite, a proud new generation of creative Jewish culture, sactifying the World Wide Web and spreading light throughout Jewish digital communities?
Those are bigger questions than the world is ready to answer just yet. All I know is that this year’s crop of new Hannukah videos is the best we’ve seen yet, and that the bar is being raised. After spending the last few weeks tracking all the new videos for Janglo, Israel’s largest online community for English speakers, I’m excited to share my top picks for Hannukah 5773:
1& 2: You’re forgiven if you get mixed up between our first two songs, 8 Nights and, um, Eight Nights. We have two acapella parodies of Fun’s Grammy-nominated “Some Nights”; one by StandFour, formed by four YU Maccabeats graduates, and the other by Pella Productions. They both sound the same for the first few seconds, and both mashup other hit songs in the process. Pella’s version is more fun to watch, and is ahead in the race for page views, but both are top-notch.
3: It might not be a music video, but the Technion’s Rube Goldberg machine is very engaging. How do some engineering nerds set up a robot to light Hannukah candles using helium balloons, some nitroglycerin, and anything else around the lab? The answer has been one of the most watched Hannukah videos this year.
4: For something completely different, check out Michelle Citrin’s sexy Hanukkah Lovin’. I never really thought the Jewish people needed an answer to Eartha Kitt’s Santa Baby, but now that I see it, I’m glad its here. For more of Citrin, see 20 Things To Do With Matzah after Pesach.
5: Six13′s Haneirot Halalu is another nice acapella hit, integrating lyrics from the traditional Hannukah prayer.
6: The Yeshiva Boys Choir’s Daddy Come Home is the only video that made me cry this year. Its a harrowing ballad of a little boy longing for his father to come back safely from the army to light candles together. After Operation Pillar of Defense just a few weeks ago, this one hit close to home.
7: It could be said that the Maccabeats are responsible for starting this whole holiday music video craze in the first place, when their 2010 video Candlelight scored eight millions hits and catapulted them to the top of the Jewish music world. Their new video, Shine, is their first completely original song. Extra credit for pushing the Miracle Match Bone Marrow donor campaign inside the video.
8: Who makes the final cut with #8? Is it Matisyahu’s new song “Happy Hannukah”? ROCKAZION’s Who Could Retell? Or one of the others? Let us know what you think in the comments below or at firstname.lastname@example.org