Smokey Robinson mispronounces Chanukah, goes viral

Motown legend's Cameo video goes awry

The Detroit News

Smokey Robinson is going viral not for his music, but for his mispronunciation of the word Chanukah.

The Motown legend was hired to record a Cameo video for a fan who lived near him growing up. In the video, Robinson says hello to his old neighbor and then, as instructed, wishes her a happy Chanukah — which he pronounces "Cha-noo-kah" — adding, "I have no idea what Chanukah is." 

Smokey Robinson, via Cameo.

The mishap is likely a matter of spelling unfamiliarity rather than cultural ignorance; Robinson may very well know the Jewish festival, which began Dec. 10 and stretches through Dec. 18, as the more widely used Hanukkah. Both spellings are correct.  

"My mom grew up on the same street as Smokey Robinson in Detroit. So for Chanukah, I wanted to reunite them via @Cameo," Cameo customer Jeff Jacobson says in a tweet, which includes the video in question. "But the video takes a strange twist."

The tweet was posted Sunday afternoon and by Monday had gained around 4,400 retweets and 22,000 likes. 

The 80-year-old Robinson, who grew up on Belmont St. near Detroit's North End neighborhood, is available for Cameo videos for $350 a pop, but there are no guarantees yours will go viral.