Adam Sandler’s “Chanukah Song” turned 15 this year and it’s apparently settled into our collective consciousness as the new holiday standard, a sort of Jewish equivalent to “Silent Night,” or perhaps “White Christmas” (though that’s sort of a Jewish song itself).
Yup, it’s all over the media this month. The Forward’s Jenna Joselit Weissman calls it “a contemporary classic.” Carly Silver writes in New Voices about a time she tried to think of Hanukkah tunes and Sandler’s was “the only one I could think of.” It’s been covered by various up-and-comers including Oy Capella and some guy called Neil Diamond. Sandler himself has gone ahead and recorded a “Chanukah Song” Part 2 and Part 3.
But if you’re really following the culture, you know that Sandler’s “Chanukah Song” is already way, way passé. The new normal is a Youtube sensation, via the Internets, called “Chinese Food for Christmas.” It’s so big that it’s turned singer-songwriter Brandon Walker into an entertainment star in his own right and spawned a host of spin-offs, copycats and one-ups, including a cover version by the Chipmunks. What they have in common is Christmas Envy — Jews who feel left out during the season when everyone around them is having such a good time. Here’s the original (continue to the jump for some of the more hilarious and inspired spin-offs):
This story "Give It a Rest, Adam Sandler: The New Jewish Holiday Tunes" was written by J.J. Goldberg.
First, a straightforward and totally hilarious homage to “Chinese Food,” innocently and subversively titled “The Jewish Christmas Song,” set to the tune of “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” No credits, so I don’t know who this guy is, but I wish I did because he is a hoot and the visual causes Outright, Prolonged Laughter.
This next one is a funny medley by Lex Friedman, a singer-songwriter-parodist ambitiously walking in the footsteps of the revered Allen Sherman. He has a bunch of other tunes on the ’Nets, including an inspired piece of nuttiness for Rosh Hashanah, set to the tune of The Knack’s classic “My Sharona.” But I digress. Here’s Lex Friedman’s “A Jew Sings the Songs of Christmas,” “available at Heathen and Pagan stores everywhere”:
The next few get away from basement self-video into high-production music video. This one is a funny, totally Jewish and surprisingly sophisticated rap number that takes Christmas Envy to the extreme, by the very cool female hip hop duo of MC Jew C, aka Meredith Scott Lynn, and Lil’ Mitzvah, aka Coley Sohn. “Merry Hanukkah (A Jewish Christmas Rap)”:
I don’t know who is envying whom in this next piece, but whatever it is, it’s hot music. It’s a hard-core Gangsta Rap number with the straightforward title “Happy Hanukkah.” The performers aren’t identified. If you recognize them, give a shout. Watch for the Gimel.
Here’s a switcheroo. Instead of a Jew with Christmas Envy it features a Christian who wishes — well, the title says it all: “All I Want for Christmas is to be Jewish.” It’s by a multi-talented group that’s new to me, The Chixie Dix, here taking a break from their mostly scatological repertoire.
This next one is an intense bit of Christmas Envy called “How a Jew Spends Christmas.” The soundtrack is Frank Sinatra singing “Jingle Bells.” The story is all in the accompanying visual, starring the very visual Carlie Casey.
Finally, here’s the Chipmunks rendition (though I suspect these aren’t the real Chipmunks but a Jewish substitute) (and yet, who’s to say who is a real Chipmunk and who is a Jew?):
Jonathan Jeremy “J.J.” Goldberg is editor-at-large of the Forward, where he served as editor in chief for seven years (2000-2007).