Okay, never one to deny a challenge (as posed by my sister the other day in the context, “Who hasn’t covered Hallelujah”?) There’s a list here. The Leonard Cohen song has been a challenge for artists in a variety of musical genres. But I give you my own little list of top 5 favorite covers of this very interesting song (note 5=best). I challenge anyone to say that Jeff Buckley was not the truly definitive version. Regardless, the list is fun… it demonstrates my eclectic tastes as well as showing how different the same song can sound.

  1. Bon Jovi (which started this mess)
  2. Allison Crowe
  3. Rufus Wainwright
  4. k.d. lang
  5. Jeff Buckley

But I agree with my sis, we need to hear what Leehom (and maybe Vince Gill) could do with it… but for another interesting song check out this compound Bon Jovi effort on Always.


7 responses to “Hallelujah

  1. Interesting song indeed. One Leonard Cohen version I found on YouTube was introduced by the German show master, Frank Elstner, and had the cheesiest backup choir you could imagine — not quite what I would have expected from his recent biographical movie (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0478197/). Still, his snotty intonation and hypnotic gaze lost nothing in translation (he did, thankfully, sing in English). http://youtube.com/watch?v=rf36v0epfmI

    I trust your musical instincts and liked your cover selections, mostly, but I have to disagree with your ranking. Of your picks, at first listen, my top choice was AC for sheer heart (though she sadly bungles the “do ya”/”-lujah” rhyme in an effort to enunciate properly). Jeff Buckley? Not bad, but I’m definitely not following the overtly political visuals with this song. (This from someone who takes no issue with the message of those visuals, per se, and from someone willing to concede that some of what is personal is political and vice versa. This song, to me, plainly isn’t.) Didn’t finish kdl.

    Vive la difference!

  2. notfromaroundhere

    Man, them there is fightin’ words! And I won’t take it lightly. Pay no attention to whatever is in the “video” for Jeff Buckley, he likely had nothing to do with it. But listen to the song. And then put it in perspective: all the other covers come post-Jeff Buckley. He borrows a bit supposedly from the John Cale version but it’s still another large leap forward from there to what he did with it (just as Cale’s version is quite different from Cohen’s as you linked above). He changed what people did with the song, and it would not be covered so much today if not for his version. It’s not just me either, see Time on the subject.

  3. Well… I take your point that he deserves credit for his role in the evolution of the song. But I can appreciate what Karajan did for the German classical music market and still loathe his interpretations. I did listen to JB, mentally subtracted the visuals, and he’s good, but in my book he still doesn’t come out on top — for my own listening taste. De gustibus and all that.

  4. Everyone is entitled to his or her own listening preferences. I mean, I think you’re crazy if you claim anyone beats Jeff Buckley on this song, but you’re entitled to be crazy.

    I wonder how one gets a “Leehom, please cover ‘Hallelujah'” campaign going…

  5. notfromaroundhere

    Thanks for backing me up on Buckley. I mean, there is no other CD like Grace and no other version like that song, especially for mellow evenings sitting outside with a glass of wine 🙂

    Would Leehom have to do it in Chinese? Or is he allowed to do it in English?

  6. I sincerely doubt Leehom is capable of translating it into Chinese… no, I meant he should sing it in English. He always delights crowds in Asia when he sings in English anyway, and it *is* his mother tongue, so he’s one of the few Mandopop artists who could do a credible job with it.

  7. Pingback: Hallelujah redux, on to dark cabaret « Not From Around Here

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