Thursday, July 12, 2007

YK's All-Time Favorite Jewish Music songs

1. Vezakeinu Lekabel Shabatot– Composer: Yossi Green. The older this song gets, the more I enjoy it. I’m not choosing this song particularly because of the arrangement or the singer; I just think this is a song that symbolizes the spirit of Shabbes. Oif Simchas released a new version of this song in their third album.

2. Hu Yigal – Singer: Dedi. Composer: Yishai Lapidot. In the mid-90’s Dedi skyrocketed in the industry and injected new life to JM. Hu Yigal is an energetic song, with a great background choir and it symbolizes the impact Dedi had in JM.

3. Hisnaari – Singer: Avrumi Flam. Composer: Yoel Kalek. This three-part song is a masterpiece composed by Yoel Kalek, the son of Yigal Kalek of the London Boys Choir. The arrangement by Lamm is simple but appropriate for this song and the Belgium-based choir, directed by Yoel, is awesome – I love their sound. This is surely Avrumie’s best song ever and he should have repeated this joint-venture with Yoel in all his albums.

4. Haleluka – Singer: Yehuda. Composer: Boruch Levine. Yehuda is a multi-talented musician who sings, produces, arranges and even composes most of his songs. His arrangements are original and refreshing and he has worked his way to become an extraordinary vocalist. This song is perfect from all sides – the song, the vocalist, the arrangement (Yehuda introduced in this song the Scottish pipe) and the choir.

5. Meheiro – Singer: Shwekey. Composer: Yitzy Waldner. Shwekey’s is not very smooth and I usually get tired of listening his songs after a while, even though they are good. But Meheiro is an exception. I think any other singer wouldn’t make this song sound as special as Shwekey did. It’s the right song for the right man.

6. Ekrah – Singer: Shalsheles. Composer: Y. Rosenthal. As you all know, I’m a big fan of Yitzhak Rosenthal’s music. I think this is his best song so far and I love to hear and sing this song. I once posted a sample of Kol Halayla’s Acapella version of this song that is simply marvelous and it convinced me this song is a classic (way better than AKAPella’s version).

7. Dido Bei – Singer: Avraham Fried. Composer: YG. The great lyrics, gathered by YG from a Gemara I believe, and the great choir complement Fried’s great vocals in this song. Another great classic composition of YG that cannot stay out of this list.

8. Ato Bonim – Singer: Yeedle. Composer: Hillel Palai. This was Palai’s debut in JM and he managed to create a new style of song – the “Ato Bonim”-type-of-songs. This song was an instant hit and most singers today include one song like that in their albums. Great lyrics and very skilled arrangement by Moshe Laufer.

9. Moshiach – Singer: MBD. Composer: Rosemblum?. No need for explanations. This song has been the symbol of JM for decades and, needless to say, it was of the biggest hit songs of the past decades. MBD sang this song again in his Kumzits album and it still sounds great.

10. Uvnei Otah. Singer: Carlebach. I couldn’t leave without including a Carlebach song. He deserves to have a separate list of all-time best songs but I have to choose one and I selected this one because it was one of his last and greatest compositions. Towards the end of his career, Reb Shlomo started to compose more intricate songs like this one, a three-part song that is not so easy to sing, unlike his other songs. Even so, everyone loves to sing this song anyways because it is a special piece and very energetic.

Disclaimer: My list is not in order of importance. It's just my top-ten favorites. I know I left many out and that not all of them are necessarily hits, but I made my selection based in the overall quality of the songs, taking to account the vocals, the song, the choir, the arrangement and my personal feeling for the song.


Joel said...

I can't argue with most of your list. I have never heard Hisnaari, so
I can't comment on it. The correct name of the song Atoh Bonim is Shiru Lamelech.
Who sings the original version of Vezakeinu? I think most of Shalsheles's songs sound similar, but I think most will agree with me that Essa Ainai and Mi hoish were both bigger hits than Ekra.
Chazak or Dido Bei? Can anyone not go with Chazak?
Overall a great list but it lacks in diversity. No english tracks, and no choirs, no bands just the same run of the mill stuff.
By the way I have five english songs in my list not three.

YK said...

Hisnaari was never a huge hit, but it's great. Here is a link to Hisnaari -

Frankly, I don't recall who sings Vezakeinu originally. I would assume it's MBD or Fried.

I agree with you that Essa Einai and Mi Hoish are bigger hits than Ekrah, but I personally prefer Ekrah for some reason. Have you heard Kol Halayla's version of Ekrah? It's legendary.

I also agree with you that your list more diverse. BTW, my 11th choice was Yaaleh V'yavo, by MBC, so I do enjoy choir to some extent.

Can you still listen yo Chazak? Oh my gd, I'm sick of it. Great song, tough.

Joel said...

I want a top ten. 1 to 10 in order favorite to least.

YK said...

Humm that's tough man. I like each one of these songs in a different way, and for a different reason. I don't think I can single out one song that is the number 1. Your list was in order of preference? Chazak is your 2nd best song ever????

Anonymous said...

my 5 all time underated english songs;1.pintele yid(schwebel,scharf,levine)2.thundering sounds(chaim mittelman)3.crack of dawn(mbd)4.its gonna happen(simcha weber)5.torah in e.y.(nochum stark)

C Yehuda said...

B'shetzef was a great album. Hisnaari was definitely an excellent song, but I liked the title song, b'shetzef, even more.

First albums are often so much better than the follow-ups, though. I found that to be the case with both Avrumi Flam and Shalsheles.

YK said...

Hey C Yehuda

I also love Beshetzef, and I think it's in the same level as Hisnaari. But I had to choose one and I just love singing Hisnaari.

Not always first albums are the best. If the singer is good, the logic is that he will keep getting better and better. That was the case with Yehuda! for instance. And with Shlomo Simcha (Aneini was his best I think [altough the last one was a calamity]). And with Shwekey, in my opinion Yedid was the best so far.

Most musician in JM today don't try so hard to keep inovating and changing; they prefer to stay in the safe zone and do the old same trick. It's a pitty.

But take Yossi Green for example, he is one of the few who keeps improving and evolving his composing skills, for decades already. He's an exception.

Regarding Shalsheles, I think all their albums are in the same level, just the public got used to the Shalsheles sound; that's Yizthak Rosenthal came up with Shalsheles Junior and also gave out some songs to Yaakov Young, to try to change. But I think he will get better and better. He's great.


C Yehuda said...

Hisnaari is a better song to sing than B'shetzef: its strength is in the melody, while a lot of B'shetzef's power comes from the harmonies.

Re first albums, your point is taken, YK. I agree that Yehuda got better as he went on--Eftach Pi is one of my favorite albums. He's become a very talented arranger. Shlomo Simcha I haven't listened to enough of to know. Schwekey, well, I think all of his albums are pretty good, but Yedid isn't my favorite. I really dislike songs which are all about cool-sounding words (à la dida bei) instead of about the meaning, and he does that twice with Ben Bag Bag and Yedid (Yeshiva Boy's Choir's response to Ben Bag Bag, Bar Hei Hei, does it even worse, but I had to laugh at that). Im Eshkochaich is a very nice song, but I swear the high part is ripped off of a tune for Ani Maamin I used to know.

Yossi Green is an exceptional composer in every way: I fully agree with you there. In fact, it was your excellent post on him that first drew me to your blog. Like you, I have long been struck by his range, he's composed great songs in so many different styles. Reb Hillel Palei, on the other hand, has also composed great songs, but they're all in the same style.

I have to disagree with you about Shalsheles: in my opinion, Yitzchok Rosenthal used up all his good songs on Shalsheles 1. Shalsheles 1 was amazing, Shalsheles 2 had maybe a couple of good songs (Yehi Shalom is the only one that comes to mind), and Shalsheles 3, I didn't like at all.

YK said...


I actually love Dida Bei! But I got your point.

Rabbi Palai never evolved and just kept composing very similar songs... no wonder we don't hear from him anymore. However, he does have a great almost unknown song in Nochum Stark's first album - a song called Hisoreri. It actually a slow song, not like ato bonim, and it's quite good.

Here are some great songs by Y. Rosenthal that never really became popular: Magen Avos, in the Shabbos album (by various singers); Gal Gal, in Yakov Young's album (btw, this song is not a tyipical Shalsheles song. gotta hear it) and Modeh Ani, in Shalsheles junior. Those songs are really great, but not popular.


Anonymous said...

Is YK by any chance Yigal Kalek, with Joel being his son Yoel?
I am an old friend of Yoels from Lakewood days, Ari Davis

YK said...

Haha nice try but no!
YK stands for Yakov Klein, and i don't know personally the Yoel of this thread.
I am however very friendly with Yoel Kalek, we live in the same city.