Chanukah is on the way…and you know what that means. Candles, latkes, sufganiyot, chocolate gelt…
And acapella song parodies. Lots of ’em.
For millennia, the Jewish people suffered terribly, singing the same six Chanukah songs over and over again. That all changed, however, in 2010.
“Candlelight” was an immediate hit, taking its place in the repertoire of Chanukah sing-alongs everywhere. And now, nearly 16 million views later, it still holds the record for the most-watched Jewish parody that we know of.
And that’s when the fun began.
Suddenly, watching from the sidelines, every other Jewish artist said, “hey, we can do that!” And so, the race to create the next “Candlelight” was on. In the years that followed, every Jewish holiday brought with it a plethora of creative music videos by talented Jewish musicians…all vying to become the next viral Jewish sensation. While no one has come close to the Maccabeats’ success (not even the Maccabeats themselves!)…well, we’re thrilled that they keep trying!
In anticipation of the creativity sure to be with us for Chanukah 2020, here are our picks for the Top 10 Acapella Chanukah Videos of All Time. Do you agree with our picks? Be sure to tell us in the comments!
10. The Maccabeats – I Have a Little Dreidel – Hanukkah
“Oooh, can you play ‘I Have a Little Dreidel’ at our Chanukah party?” said no Jew ever in the past 85 years. Nevertheless, the song remains the most well-known Chanukah song of all time. Capitalizing on it’s “brand recognition”, the Maccabeats decided to test the song’s limits in 2018. Ever wonder what “Dreidel” would sound like in the style of Big Band, Bluegrass, Hip Hop, 80s music, Blues, Classical, Reggaeton, and more? You’ll never hear the song quite the same way again.
9. Quinta and a Half – Chanukah Medley
We’re big fans of this well-established Israeli acapella group. They’ve achieved notoriety with their excellent Israeli Music Evolution and a fun medley of Israeli Eurovision entries. So when we discovered their 2012 medley of Israeli Chanukah songs, we couldn’t wait to hear it. Quinta and a Half didn’t disappoint, putting an entertaining spin on such Israeli classics as “Maoz Tzur”, “Lichvod HaChanukah”, “Hava Narima”, and others.
8. Y-Studs – Don’t Stop Me Now: A Queen Hanukkah
In 2018, Bohemian Rhapsody was a theatrical blockbuster, and the world enjoyed a revival in popularity of all things Queen. So, what’s a creative Jewish acapella group to do? Create a Queen-themed Chanukah parody, of course! The Y-Studs hit a home run with this mash-up of “We Will Rock You”, “Don’t Stop Me Now”, and “We Are The Champions”. Oh, and these guys weren’t the only group to offer a Chanukah / Queen crossover in 2018…but more on that later.
7. SHEFITA – Mi Yemalel (Hanukkah 2019) | שפיטה – מי ימלל
As a performer, Israel’s Shefita (aka Rotem Shefy) is as odd as it gets…and that’s just the way she likes it. “As Shefita,” writes Wikipedia, “Shefy portrays an Arab diva, who has risen to fame by producing cover versions to famous rock songs like Radiohead’s Karma Police and Nirvana’s Lithium.” That’s why it came as a surprise to her fans when, in 2019, she covered one of the most beloved Hebrew Chanukah songs of all time, “Mi Yemalel”. If you’ve never experienced the oddity of Shefita, this is certainly a good place to start.
6. Kippalive – Al HaNisim כיפה-לייב על הניסים
This Israeli/American acapella group had been out there doing their thing over the years to moderate success, even releasing a video with famed Israeli singer Kobi Aflalo. But KippaLive really put themselves on the map with their 2015 Chanukah video, Their incredibly creative (and slightly odd-looking) concept for the “Al HaNissim” many of us know and love endeared them to many new fans, making KippaLive a serious contender in the Jewish acapella race for eyeballs.
5. The Maccabeats – Latke Recipe
You just can’t help but smile while watching The Maccabeats’ 2015 entry, “Latke Recipe”. Set to the tune of “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon, this creative song doubles as an ACTUAL recipe for potato latkes (though haven’t tested this particular recipe…so YMMV). These guys just exude joy with every note of the song, and with 2.7 million views on YouTube, they have reason to smile. BTW, if you do make latkes this year according to their recipe, let us know how they come out…
4. Pella Productions – 8 Nights Of Hanukkah A Capella Mashup
While this talented acapella group never quite made the “big time”, they did a fantastic job with this 2012 parody video. Let’s face it…sometimes the miracles of Chanukah can feel very distant in today’s day and age. But with Israel under constant threat from its enemies, perhaps Israel’s current reality can help us understand some of the difficulties of yesteryear. Using Israel’s challenges as a backdrop, these young singers did a fantastic job helping us internalize the message of Chanukah in the 21st century. They also look like they’re having a ton of fun celebrating Chanukah throughout the streets of New York City.
3. Six13 – Chanukah (“Shake It Off”)
Just listening to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” is enough to put you into a good mood. But when Six13, one of the most creative and talented Jewish acapella groups out there, turns this a great song into a great Chanukah parody, it’s pure acapella gold. How can you not get into the holiday spirit while watching? This song was a huge hit for the group in 2014, landing them gigs on New York City television and radio stations during the holiday season. And why not? The sight of six Jewish guys…singing Taylor Swift…spinning dreidels in tutus is sure to generate some attention.
2. Six13 – Bohemian Chanukah (a Queen adaptation)
Perhaps the most impressive Jewish acapella parody of all time, Six13’s “Bohemian Chanukah” sounds almost identical to the song on which it’s based. The way these guys recreate Queen’s epic guitar solos – as well as the rest of the song – is simply masterful. You might not realize you’re listening to an acapella song! Another group capitalizing on the immense popularity of Queen in 2018, Six13’s rendition took the genre up a few notches. If it weren’t for the massive success of “Candlelight”, we would have ranked this at #1. It’s that good.
1. The Maccabeats – Candlelight
How could we rank this song any lower? The song that started it all still reigns supreme in 2020 as the undisputed king of Jewish parody videos. These guys are still riding the wave of success brought about by “Candlelight” – and they deserve it. The Maccabeats are not one-hit-wonders. They consistently put out incredible videos several times a year – with top-notch production quality, clever lyrics, creative harmonies and more. Ten years later, they’re still holding strong as the Jewish acapella group to beat.
So, what’s YOUR favorite?
What do you think of our countdown? Did we leave out your favorite song? Which acapella group do you most enjoy listening to? As you wait by your favorite YouTube channel for the songs of Chanukah 2020 (all of which should be VERY interesting), let’s talk about Chanukah acapella of yesteryear. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments!