Thursday, May 19, 2011

Speculation: Maccabeat's Second Album

Update 1/26/12 - The Maccabeats have hinted on their Facebook status that their 2nd album is almost done!

As many people know, the production of the second Maccabeats album was derailed by the success of "Candlelight." We also know that their second professionally released collection (to the exclusion of the mp3 only "Candelight" and "Purim Song" was indeed in production. We now find ourselves in the midst of Sefiras HaOmer, otherwise known as the season for Jewish A Cappella.

We do have a few new releases, including Six13's fourth album "Zmanim" and "A Kumzitz in the Rain." What I would like to examine now is the hypothetical contents of the Maccabeats as of yet incomplete and unreleased follow-up to their very successful "Voices From The Heights."

Since "Voices From The Heights" came out last year right before Pesach, The Maccabeats have expanded their repertoire with a number of new songs. Some seem like the perfect fit to be included on their new album in-the-making, while others might not make the cut. I honestly have no clue what's really going to be there on that CD when you buy it sometime in the future, but let's take a look at the possibilities.

Caveat: this entire post is PURE SPECULATION. Take all of this with a huge grain of salt.

We'll start with the obvious choices, such as Shwekey's "Rau Banim:"

The Maccabeats sang this with Shwekey in concert, and it's a popular song in it's own right. No one else has recorded it as an A Cappellla version, so I would be shocked if it wasn't included.

The same goes for "Yavo" by the Miami Boys Choir:

And "Come Back" originally performed by the Moshav Band:

As I mentioned in my recent post about YU's Yom Hashoah program, the Maccabeats performed two amazing songs, "Habet," originally by Aish on their first album and "Last Night," which I can't seem to find the origins for. Neither is on Youtube at the moment, though I imagine videos exists and will get uploaded at some point and I'll make sure to add them when I see them. Both were fantastic, especially the spine-tingly rendition of "Habet," which has always been such an awesomely powerful song.

Update (5/19/11 1:30 PM) - A reader sent me a link to the YU Yom Hashoa program, so there ARE videos of "Habet" and "Last Night." Or watch the video below and skip to 18:05 and 37:06:

There are other Jewish cover songs the Maccabeats have sang on occasion, such as another song from the Miami Boys Choir, "Ani Ma'amin:"

There's also Maccabeats' version of Six13's Al Hanissim:

I discovered a recent video of The Maccabeats singing "V'hi She'amda" from their Pesach concert in Miami:

So that puts us up to 8 potential songs. "Voices From The Heights" had 12 songs, 9 of which were Jewish (I'm including "Arim Roshi," "Ma Avarech," and "Hatikva" here), 1 of which was a medley and 1 was an "original" application of a semi-secular tune to Jewish words, namely "Lecha Dodi." There were then 3 secular cover songs, though I wouldn't really read anything into the fact that one was a Disney song and "One Day" could be viewed as quasi-Jewish because it was originally performed by Matisyahu.

This leaves us with 4-ish remaining slots to fill, depending if more than 12 songs are included. I've seen some Jewish Music albums with as high as 14 songs, so it is possible...

I am unaware of any particular medley that The Maccabeats might have in the works. They DO have an old Chanukah medley which might work.

This would allow them to include Al Hanissim and perhaps a touch of Candlelight (see more on that song later).

There are several new secular song covers that the Maccabeats have added to their repertoire since the first album. There are 4 in particular that stand out in my mind.

Starting off, there's Coldplay's "Viva la Vida," which I think is particularly neat-sounding, in terms of the arrangments and vocal percussion:

The 2nd of the 4 songs seems like a shoo-in "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey, which is an extremely popular song because of the TV show "Glee," and it generally very, very popular among The Maccabeats' biggest fan base, high school girls:

However, I think it might not make it is because the lyrics don't necessarily jive well with a typical Sameach Music release. This point may apply to "Viva la Viva" as well.

Thirdly, we have "Wavin' Flag" by K'naan (interesting name I must say), which The Maccabeats have paired up with "One Day" at their live performances:

I think it's certainly a nice "One Day" type song which would fit nicely on their 2nd album.

Lastly, there is "When You Believe," from "The Prince of Egypt." It has a nice Disney-ish quality to it.

Of the 4 new secular songs, I think "Wavin' Flag" is the most likely to appear on the album.

So if we include those 4 secular covers, we're have more than enough potential songs. Where does that leave us?

What about "Candlelight" and "The Purim Song?" Yes, it would be a very easy thing to include them, and Six13 actually did that on their recently released 4th album, though one could make a distinction between "I Light It" and "P-A-S-S-O-V-E-R" since the later was released as a youtube video to promote the upcoming album.

However, does it make any sense to do that? To a degree, since the songs are already finished, ready-to-go, and are guaranteed popular. But, might consumers be a little tired of them by now? Most people probably have purchased the "Candlelight" mp3 single, and I imagine a large number of Jewish Music consumers also bought "The Purim Song." Including it on the CD is kind of like a bit of a slap, since you've already paid for it once. I certainly felt that way when other artists have done that, such as Shasheles 3 including the single "Dreaming," which was originally sold as a single on a CD to raise money for tzedaka. Granted, I don't regret giving money to a worthy cause and benefitting from the song while doing so, but including it on the album took away a lot of the specialness of the single CD.

On the other hand, it is smart because it will still expose more people to "The Purim Song" since not as many people saw the video on youtube compared to "Candlelight." The same goes for the few people who've been living in a cave since early November and have no clue what "Candlelight" is. Or, for those who haven't played the song in months (or by the time the album comes out, perhaps well over a year), it'll be a nice revival of sorts, kind of like when you set your iPod to shuffle and encounter an old favorite you haven't heard in a long while.

There are also some songs out there that I think are less likely to make the album for several reasons, some comically so.

"The Lion Sleeps Tonight" dates back to the Maccabeats earlier days when they were just another nerdy college A Capella group:

Yeah, I wouldn't bet on this one, as fun as it is live.

Anyway, as I mentioned at the start of this post, the likelihood of any particular song I've listed above being included on the album is totally speculative. Some of the Jewish songs are more than likely not really album worthy, so the list of selected songs is probably far from complete. I hope the Maccabeats can find time in their busy schedules to work on getting their next CD released, though it probably won't happen until next sefira.

Until then, enjoy watching/listening to these videos and imagine the possibilities.

P.S. I am totally aware that the Maccabeats performed at the White House on Tuesday. I will be writing a separate post about that shortly, I've just had this one in the works for a while and it took time to gather all the Youtube videos.


  1. I stopped reading halfway (due to time constraints) but I plan on coming back to read the rest.... I just wanted to say
    THANK YOU for posting all this, you just saved me a ton of time searching for all their videos :)
    I hope they come out with an album REALLY soon... for Sefira purposes or not there needs to be a new album...

  2. Very interesting speculation. There are tons of options! If I had to guess, I would guess that they will put Candlelight and the Purim Song on their CD. Like you said- they are all ready to go.

    One song that you didn't mention that they have sung in the past (but that is not on YouTube) that I would love to see on their next CD is aish's "Habet." They always sing it at Yom HaShoah/Yom Hazikaron programs, and it gives me the chills every time. I'm hoping they will include that.

    I guess we'll have to see!

  3. Rachelli Dreyfus - you're quite welcome! I definitely agree we need a new Maccabeats album. I've been living off of youtube videos since "Camdlelight." I haven't actually bought tge mp3s for either that or "The Purim Song" because I think my repeated viewings are worth more than the single time cost of the purchase.

    Sterngrad - on the contrary, I think you missed the paragraph between the videos for "Come Back" and "Ani Ma'amin." ;)

  4. Ah yes, must have missed that!


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