xmas disk 88 298.
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Kosher Christmas Carols
Hannuka's relative importance in the cycle of Jewish holidays is debatable, but with today's gift-giving culture and most businesses depending on third-quarter sales spikes, this season is undeniably a key time for merchandise marketing. Mordechai Ben Dovid knows this as well as Adam Sandler does.
This year, Hannuka begins on December 25, which goes a long way to raise the marketing stakes for holiday music, a situation surely not lost on show tune satire outfit Silly Music as they labored on their new Kosher Christmas Carols disc. The songs heard here parody our favorite Christmas Carols, with lyrics changed to reflect themes which Silly Music considers to be Judaism's core. But instead of dealing with Biblical commentators and the rites of marriage, areas which made fellow spoofer Schlock Rock famous, the Philip Roth-lite Silly Music focuses on twisted family relationships, lawsuits, the love of food and stinginess.
Lyrical gems include "Joy to the world, or so they say / And yet they buy retail" and "Weee will sue-ya" (to the tune of the "Hallelujah" sequence from Handel's Messiah). The ever-elusive line between satire's good fun and tasteless self-hate is blurred once again on this CD, mostly because the laughs don't come in rapid fire.
Finding a highly targeted niche isn't always easy in today's music scene, and with a crowded Jewish music market unable to support many full-time artists, the search for unique musical identity is all the more key. That Silly Music can continue putting out CD after CD that covers such a specific ground is a testament to the vibrancy and versatility of Jewish Music today.
Must be Chanukah
Stacy Beyer was recently commissioned by Reform Congregation Ohabai Sholom of Nashville, Tennessee, where she serves as cantor, to put together her third CD, Must be Chanukah. The disc reeks heavily of her hometown, with flavors of southern adult pop and Melissa Etheridge-ish fem-power-country permeating throughout. Beyer's "Haneirot Halalu" even concludes with a "yeah yeah yeah, woooh!" yelp.
The other dominant flavor on Must be Chanukah is contemporary synth-pop, with Britney Spears-like chord progressions, sassy vocal effects and keyboard arrangements heard most notably on "Eternal Flame."
On "B'Tzet Hakochavim," Beyer supplements the bubblegum with subtle Latin rhythms. Strangely, the only song that seems to have been specifically targeted at children here is "The Hand That Lights the Candle," with its "la la la" refrain and choir of tots backing up Beyer. A hidden bonus instrumental track explores ethnic instrumentation flavors, a direction that might have resonated well on the rest of the disc, and one which Beyer might give more weight on her next community recording.
Ben Jacobson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.