"Kosher" covers for international music hits are not a novelty in Jewish music, and countless songs have already been "converted to Judaism" for the ultra-Orthodox sector.
Admittedly, the genre may not represent creativity and originality at their best, but still there are times when a more professional product emerges. An example for this is the album "Second Impressions" by New York-based singer and producer Gershon Veroba.
Although in the past he produced "kosher" versions for popular hits, two years ago Veroba released a solo album titled "Reach Out" and it seemed that he was headed for a career based on his own materials.
In a conversation with Ynet Veroba admitted that he did not really want to make the new album, but was persuaded to do so after pressure from his audience whom he did not want to disappoint. "If people enjoy it so much, why not give it to them?" he said.
Veroba stressed that the new album was produced at the highest professional level, and that a lot of thought has been put into the lyrics, which are probably the most important part of the project. "By the way," he added, "these are not parodies but an attempt to give new meaning to songs of a non-religious nature and adapt them for the Jewish-religious audience."
Most artists, said Veroba, were either positive or indifferent towards the initiative to '"convert" their songs, while some "made life tough." For example, in order to get permission to use the song "Incomplete" by the Backstreet Boys Veroba had to get the signatures of 10 different people.
How did you decide which songs to "convert"?
"It's very hard work. We had close to a 100 songs from which to choose… sometimes people think that it's enough to include the words 'Torah,' 'mitzvah,' 'Messiah' and 'oy vey' and then they'll have a good Jewish song, but it just doesn't work like that. There has to be a musical justification for changing the lyrics."
The new album, which was recently released in the United States and is being distributed in Israel by RNY Productions, includes 12 pop hits from the years 1976-2007. Among them are the Backstreet Boys' "Incomplete"; "Everybody Knows God Rules the World" (based on Tears for Fears' song "Everybody Wants to Rule the World); and "Run from the Egyptians" (based on The Bangles' "Walk like an Egyptian).
Run From The Egyptians/ The lyrics
All the old paintings on the tombs
Don’t have our ancestors in the shot
They carry bricks, they’re falling down
dying on the spot
Slavedriver man by the Nile
He whipped me and now he turns to you
The suffering’s all we ever knew
Time for us to board the bus. Say
”Run from the Egyptians”
Saved by the water, Moshe
Grew up to be our super man
Walked up to Phar’oh
Said: time for the Jews to leave the land
The king kept changing his mind
His hardened heart brought the plagues of ten
Darkness & death
Came down upon all Egyptians
Royal swells in the king’s hotel say
”Run from the Egyptians”
The recipe for the bread, eighteen minutes,
maybe less, no more
Don’t you complain
Your life will be better than before
They want us back, we won’t return
we trust in one god. His name is one
He split the sea
Egyptian guards drowning as they run
Children of Israel rejoice and thanking Hashem
they see the light
They sing and dance
Accepting the Torah Moshe writes
Philistines in smithereens know
No fun for the Egyptians
Run from the Egyptians