Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Top Ten Overrated Jewish Songs

It's a shame that jewish music has jumped the shark. It's too bad that people only put out tapes to get their names out so they can make real dough singing at weddings. And even though I barely follow the Jewish music scene anymore, I still like to reminisce on my childhood days of MBD, Fried, Journeys, and all that other good stuff.

Anyway, I'm sure many of you have been to a wedding or kumsitz or something and thought, "not that song again?" Or "what's wrong with everyone? Why does everyone like this song? It's not THAT good." So with that in mind, I present my top ten overrated Jewish songs:

10) "Onoh Hashem" - Carlebach; I don't think the song itself is that bad; it's just that when people try to sing it and can't reach the high part, it just sounds awful.

9) "Tov Lehodos" - Shalheves Boys Choir - This Jewish one-hit wonder put out a song that has been sung in yeshivos and camps for years now. Maybe it's not that good. Or maybe it was once good, but the overkill got to me. Whatever it is, I can't stand this song anymore. I'll give it one thing - it's probably better than the Rabbis' Sons version, although my grandparents would disagree.

8) "Yaaleh V'Yavoh" - Miami - The song itself is okay. I don't know; for some reason, I just get really creeped out when I'm in a room with grown men singing a song I associate with 30 prespubescent kids' voices. I just find it very weird. I guess that logic applies to any Miami song.

7) "Ya Ma Mai" - Chaim Dovid - I never got into this one. I find it annoying and uninspiring, except after a few shots of hard liquor. And then, of course, anything is inspiring, especially if it has a catchy beat.

6) "Naar Hoyisi" - Dveykus III - One of my least favorite Rottenberg songs. I find the tune cheesy, and the words just don't get me going. As an aside, Dveykus jumped the shark with this album. I really don't like it. (Another possibility for a JTS moment: when Scharfman has to catch his breath on "Shalom Aleichem" on V. Volumes I and II are two of the best Jewish albums ever, except for the fast songs. But III has too many duds. Volume IV was a slight improvement, but Volume III was a turning point, without question.)

5) "Lmaan Achai" - Carlebach - A kumsitz staple for years, I never liked this one. The tune is too dirgey. The low part takes forever.

4) "Mimkomcha" - Carlebach. I'm talking about the chazzonish one, not the other one (which isn't much better). So slow, so long, it has no tune, and it's the same thing as anything the professional chazzonim do. It's great for comic relief. Let's just say that, far too many times over the past few years, I've had to hold back from cracking up during kedusha. If you can't sing the nigun, don't use it! Is it that hard to understand?

3) "Atoh Sokum" - Carlebach - I never got this one. Cheesy tune. Plus, I associate that pasuk with slichos. I always found it bizarre to take a pasuk from slichos and put a fast tune to it. Even on Yom Kippur, every year, I always think about the chassidish "Avini Makeini" during davening. Great song, really lightens me up on Yom Kippur. But something about it feels very wrong.

2) "Hamalach" - Dveykus IV - I think Nachum Segal called this the best song of the '90's. Heck, I'll even take the Shloime Dachs version over this one. In fact, I once tried using the Dachs version for L'cha Dodi in an old man's shul. Let's just say it didn't go over too well. Next time, I'll stick to a nigun that's at least 100 years old, just to be safe.

1) "Acheinu" - Lev V'Nefesh - I think some people in Uzbekistan were inspired by this song. Maybe if all I had grown up with were Russian polka songs, I'd find it interesting. But after Fried's powerful Acheinu on "Forever One," I can't listen to this one. Too cold, too dirgey, and I really don't like Abie' s voice. Abie cannot belt it out anywhere nearly as powerfully as Fried, or even Abish Brodt.

HONORABLE MENTION - Anything by Lipa. I really don't get the hype over this guy. He has one song that sounds like a ripoff of "Peanut Butter" from an old Olson Twins CD (it was my sister's, I promise! She listened to it every day for a year). And there's one song that sounds like "Hey Dum Diddle Dee Dum," the Uncle Moishy classic. Plus he does that cheesy Lion King song, which pissed off a lot of chassidim. Maybe people like him because of his cool glasses. What does that make him, the Jewish Lisa Loeb? Whatever.


Anonymous Baruch Horowitz said...

This is a good idea for a post. Y'ala V'yavo is one of my favorites. As you say, the image of a boy's choir is conjured up when singing any Miami song, and there is little one can do to change this.

4:48 PM  
Blogger Kylopod said...

Er...Lisa Loeb is Jewish.

6:41 PM  

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