JM Blogger Awards: YK’s Picks

General, Polls — By on January 3, 2010 11:27 am

Best Album: Benny Friedman’s Taamu.

Best Song: Yaakov Shwekey’s V’hi She’amda.

Best Debut Album: Taamu – Benny Friedman.

Best Arrangement: Benny Friedman’s No Lyrics

Best Yiddish Song: Benny Friedman’s Emes.
Firstly, I would like to thank JMR for hosting this year’s awards, with a special mention to Kol Isha for organizing everything. Also, I would like to thank the fellow bloggers who joined this project, and I hope we can to continue to work together in the future.

Now my picks. 2008 was the year of Yossi Green’s 8th Note and last year’s awards reflected that quite well. I believe 2009 is the year of Benny Friedman, and my personal picks reflect that as well. Taamu is my choice for Best Debut and Best Album; No Lyrics is my pick for Best Arrangement (credit to Ian Freitor, one of the best arrangers out there today) and Emes for Best Yiddish Song. This is perhaps the best debut singer I’ve seen in many years, surpassing the recent debuts of Shloimy Gertner, Gabay, Yosef Chaim and others. I don’t mean to belittle these debuts, they actually brought us great singers and good music, but Benny Friedman is what I call a “star package”. He has a distinctive, cheery voice, he has charisma, he is not afraid to innovate and he has a great production and marketing team supporting him. This combination is rare in JM today and for this reason Taamu will get most of my nominations.

However, it will not get the Best Song of 2009 Award from me. I really like all the songs from Taamu but Shwekey’s V’hi Sheamda has something more to it and it is my Best Song of 2009 nomination. This song has a lot in common with 2008’s Best Song – Anovim, which was also released in a concert. Even though Anovim was not really a new song, it was awarded the nomination of Best Song, and although I prefer the live version of V’hi Sheamda rather than Shwekey’s version, I think we should be consistent and give this song the credit it deserves. And most of the credit should go to Razel, who composed and arranged this song, and who was clever enough to let Shwekey make this song popular in Cesarea.

I will copy LifeofRubin and I will make an “honorable mention” to another song – Batuach Ani from Taamu. This is actually Benny Friedman’s favorite song of his album, and I couldn’t agree more. This is a very complex song and it’s really hard to sing it (don’t expect to hear it in weddings and kumzitzs) and if we would have the Most Innovative Song of 2009 award, this song would surely win.

I will not choose any song for Best English Song, since I didn’t hear anything worthy of it, and I will not choose the Best Boys Choir album, since my ears retired from listening this kind of albums a long time ago. I only saw one concert DVD this year so I can’t say if it’s better or worse than the rest.

YK’s Music Blog

Mendel’s Picks
JewishInsights Picks
LifeOfRubin’s Picks

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  1. Mottel says:

    Great work. Keep it up.

    I think Benny Friedman could have gotten more votes for Best Song also, if he wouldn’t have had two songs nominated. I’m not saying for sure, but he did get more total votes in that category (as of now 168) than Shweeky’s 148. Whaddaya think?

  2. yk says:


    You make a good point. But Letova and Yaavducho are not interchangeable – let me explain.

    Letova is a more traditional song, yet it stands out. Yaavducho is pure innovation, and as always that creates opinions – some like it and some don’t. In other words, those voting for Benny’s Letova are probably the more traditional listeners, while the voters of Yaavducha like new sounds. If that’s the case, none of the two songs have the universal appeal of V’hi Sheamda.


  3. AB says:

    Why hasn’t anyone considered Boruch Levine’s new album? It is just PACKED with inspirational English songs, the likes of which haven’t been heard since Journeys 4 came out?
    Otherwise, Great choices!

  4. Response says:


    I think that Boruch’s CD is a very specific taste that may go better in the yeshvish circles. As opposed to Journeys which appealed more to an overall mainstream crowd. The CD has the right inspirational messages, but it doesn’t have the same energy or humor and personality of Abie Rotenberg/Moshe Yess Journeys style.

    My two cents.

  5. Kol Isha says:

    Mottel: Let me also point out that when you vote for best song, you are not voting for the singer, per se. You are voting on a song. Sure the singer’s delivery counts, but these votes are for which song you like best, not who is your favorite singer.

  6. yk says:


    I haven’t heard this album yet… But I can say one thing – English songs in general are in sharp decline in the past years. A notable exception is Journeys, pointed out by the other commenter, but the rest is usually just plain vanilla – not memorable, not catchy and not groovy.

    The underlying problem is the lack of decent lyricists in JM. The only good lyricist is rather Lipa, in Yiddish, who was always amazing with words. But for Hebrew and English songs, JM is a desert and that’s, in my opinion, the single biggest problem of this genre today. I always mention Shuli Rand when talking about this – you might not like his music, but the man is a genius lyricist. We need more of those, be it in English or Hebrew.


  7. Mottel says:

    Yk and Kol Isha,

    You’re both making valid, true points.

    I’m suggesting that the voters, the masses, aren’t truly voting based on talent, delivery, sound, etc. I think the vast majority are voting based on who they are a fan of. Wrong but true :-). So I wouldn’t say this about the critics whose opinions JMR is posting daily now, just the anonymous voters.

    Now what do you think?

  8. Kol Isha says:

    Ok, readers, I think Mottel just accidentally insulted you. Anyone care to reply to Mottel?

  9. JMMaven says:

    Mottel – I kinda thought so too, but it’s hard to convince someone that a CD or artist that they enjoy is not so great, or that a CD or artist that they don’t enjoy is really very good.
    It seems that in music, it’s all just a matter of opinion – to each his (or her) own.
    So it’s hard to critique anyone on who they voted for – and that’s the whole point of the voting – to see what people out there think, and what they enjoyed.
    I’m curious what your picks were… :)

  10. yk says:


    Maybe yes, maybe not. We don’t really know who’s voting, so that’s pure speculation!


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