It was a pretty good Chanukah for the Maccabeats.
Weeks before, the 14-member a cappella group composed of Yeshiva University students had been virtually unknown outside of the insular Jewish music world. Then the group released their single, “Candlelight,” a cover of Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite,” as a Youtube video on the first night of Chanukah. The band’s version of the song told over the story of Chanukah, changing lyrics like “Put your hands in the air,” to “I throw my latkes in the air,” and altering Cruz’s video — largely the singer in front of dozens of partially dressed women — to images of the band members singing and playing dreidel. The response was almost immediate. Views of the video skyrocketed, hitting over 3 million, making the clean-cut band members relative celebrities (at least for the Jewish world). They have appeared on CNN, Fox News and the CBS Early Show, as well as fielding calls from the late night television shows. The question facing the group is, What comes after Chanukah?
On the last night of the holiday, Dec. 8, 10 of the 14 band members performed at Manhattan Day School in front of a several hundreds in a sold-out show. They didn’t seem too bothered by the holiday’s end. Minutes before the Maccabeats went on stage, the band members sat together in the school library eating pizza and bickering good-naturedly with each other. One member of the band complained about how tickets to the concert, emblazoned with images of the Maccabeats, made them look fat.
“We could be the Fattabeats,” Jeffrey Ritholz deadpanned.
Noey Jacobson, who wears a space suit in the video and spills jelly-filling from a sufganiyot on himself, talked about what would happen if VH1, the cable television channel, ever decided to do a “Behind the Music” special about the band.
“This will be the cleanest ‘Behind the Music’ ever,” Jacobson said, adding an incriminating detail. “Sometimes we go on late.”