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Occasional Bunch contributor Joshua Malinsky addresses one of the great Hanukkah quandaries of our time.

So it’s Chanukah* time again, except incredibly early this year (yikes) and there are time-honoured traditions to follow and create on the spot — such as the annual ‘Googling Of Chanukah Menorah Prayer’.

Besides getting the kids hopped up on gifts, grease and dreidels we also like to create some excitement around music and dancing after the menorah is lit. A quick hora or two around the living room goes a long way toward keeping Chanukah exciting, long after the first night when all the gifts get dished out.

Thanks to online services like Rdio (and Spotify elsewhere) a world of Chanukah songs is at your fingertips at all times. Here is a quick list of winners and losers I encountered while building my Chanukah playlist:

1. “The Best For Happy Hanukah Party” by David & The High Spirit

The Best? Sound promising! Cueing up O’Hannuka is exciting at first: there’s some funk-slappy synth bass and a hot intro, but once the singing starts I’m at the Baycrest Retirement Home and all the fun gets sucked out.

VERDICT: Nope

2. “Christmas & Hanukkah Holiday Music” by The Holiday All Stars

Whoa, a mix of Christmas and Chanukah songs on the same record? This could be EXCELLENT!! But there’s a pretty clear warning sign: a listing for ‘Dayenu,’ a passage that Jews recite at Passover which is not really a fun thing at all. Cuing up ‘Hanukah Melody’ is none too satisfying either. It’s 40 seconds of Cheap Synth Fun. No latke or dreidel songs in sight.

VERDICT:  All Star Failure!

3. “Bananukah!” by Danna Banana

Okay, this is appealing not only because bananas are the official fruit of Chanukah but also because it’s sung by someone with rhyming first and last names. Cuing up The Hanukah Song is promising: cowbell, laughter and simple piano/drums without synth wackiness! And it only gets better – kids’ voices and a verse in Hebrew for the kids to join along to, and clapping and a hip-hop beat break. Runs a little on the long side, frankly, and by Night 8 you will be ready to jump off a bridge, but …

VERDICT: Winner! Also amazing to play for friends and guests who aren’t Jewish

4. “The Greatest Novelty Songs Ever”

This came up on my search for songs and at first I was offended because ‘NOVELTY’?! Then I listened, and it turns out it’s some guy who isn’t Adam Sandler singing the Adam Sandler ‘Chanukah song.’ Feel free to listen if you want, but only to cringe.

VERDICT: Take OFF

Hanukkah Songs on Rdio

PHOTO: LIZ WEST

5. “Kidz Bop Hanukkah” by Kidz Bop Kids

This one had a tough start: I automatically deduct points anytime I see ‘kids’ spelled ‘kidz’. Not to mention the word ‘bop’ – are you kidding me? Cuing up ‘Oh Hanukkah’ we get some jangly guitars, tambourine, kids’ voices and the occasional dramatic delivery. Not so bad. And an accordion solo to boot! Also, this three track record has ‘Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel’ with some nice guitar-pickin’ solos, kid voices and a fun vibe.

VERDICT: In spite of the name, I declare it a Winner. (Mix it up with ‘Bananukah’ to make it through all 8 nights)

HAPPY CHANUKAH EVERYBODY!

* Joshua prefers the spelling ‘Chanukah’ over ‘Hanukkah’ but having absolutely no agreement about transliterated spellings is one of the fun things about being Jewish, right?

https://twitter.com/SilverRocket/status/386565804931952640/photo/1/large

YES, THIS IS MALINSKY

Joshua Malinsky is a Toronto dad and the artist formerly known as Kid Lunch. He prefers the ‘Chanukah’ spelling. Follow him on Twitter because laughter.

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