Tuesday, December 13, 2011

40 Songs, 40 Days, Day Twenty Nine: Hanukkah Hey Ya! by Smooth-E

Blame This Guy...
And as I try to race to the end to minimize the amount of bleed over for 2012...our first Holiday Novelty Song.

The Holiday Novelty Song has a long and storied history--after all, what is 'Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer' or 'Frosty The Snowman' but a holiday novelty song that has drifted into the realm of The Standard? Of course, what fascinates me are those novelty songs that become perennials but never quite break through to Standard status; here in New York, every Christmas time we are tormented with repeated playings of 'Dominick The Christmas Donkey,' the saga of the donkey Santa uses to bring toys to the children of Italy sung by Lou Monte but apparently never getting much traction outside of the tri-state area.

To be honest, it is amazing to me how many of these songs do end up clawing their way into the playlists of lazy radio stations everywhere. Every year we get dozens, if not hundreds of songs from various artists bidding for the same sort of immortality Frosty and Rudolph and That Reindeer That Ran Over Grandma have achieved...and for every 'Last Christmas' or 'Merry Christmas, Baby (Please Come Home)' or 'All I Want For Christmas Is You,' there are dozens which don't make it.

Which I guess brings us to Eric Schwartz, a.k.a. Smooth-E, an Oakland native who tries with this song to break into that hallowed holiday playlist by taking The Adam Sandler Road. Sandler guaranteed himself Holiday Novelty Immortality by sidestepping the overexposed Christmas and writing his HNS about Hanukkah. Actually, he cemented it by writing about Hannukkah three times over. And this prompted a whole group of other artists to do a little 'me, too' creating their own paens to Other Holidays That Take Place Around Christmas. As I write this, there's one artist who has actually produced an EP of Atheist Christmas Songs...no lie.

Not surprisingly, the biggest group of alternative HNS's are about the Festival of Lights, and to be fair, some of them are pretty good.

Not this one.

Mr. Schwartz, in creating his Hanukkah-themed parody of Outkast's smash hit of several years ago, falls into one of the pitfalls of the Novelty Song--namely, mistaking stereotyping for celebrating. Even thought Schwartz at one point proclaims 'Oi is just Yo backwards,' he brings nothing more to the table but a series of surface impressions of what Hanukkah is--hey, look! Menorahs! Driedels! Matzoh Balls! Latkes!'...and ending with the whole 'hey, we get eight nights of presents compared to you guys' getting one'...a point made better by, among other people, Adam Sandler in the songs that started this all.

Here is the video, which is just as cheap and surface as the song itself (Hey, look! These jews are accountants!). My apologies...

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