Cover Songs – Hallelujah

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Leonard Cohen recorded his song Hallelujah in 1984, and it was included in his album Various Positions. Initially, it wasn’t released as a single in the U.S., and it only had modest success in international countries. He actually wrote over 80 verses to the song, and at concerts he usually used alternate verses compared to the album version.

In 1991, John Cale recorded a cover of the song. Cale’s was the first in what has evolved into over 300 known covers of Hallelujah. 

Jeff Buckley was inspired by Cale’s version, and Buckley recorded it for his 1994 album Grace. Buckley died from accidental drowning in 1997, but his version of the song was finally released as a single in 2007, and it reached #1 on the U.S. Hot Digital Songs chart. Critics and artists alike acclaim Buckley’s version one of the great songs of all time. Rolling Stone ranks his version at #259 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In 2014, it was included into the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry.

The beauty of Buckley’s version led to an explosion of recordings of the song. Most notably, covers by Rufus Wainwright, k.d. lang, and Pentatonix have been released as singles and have charted.

It has been used in many film and television works. Its use in the film Shrek greatly increased its popularity – Cale’s version was used in the film, while Wainwright’s version was used in the soundtrack. It has been used in numerous TV talent competitions like American Idol, The X Factor, The Voice, and Dancing With the Stars. It also has been used as music in numerous TV drama series. And, it is frequently used in special events – for example, it was played at Fenway Park as a tribute to the Boston Marathon bombing victims before the Boston Red Sox played their first home game after the tragedy.

Enjoy 2 of the best – Buckley’s critically acclaimed version, and Pentatonix’s amazing a cappella version.

 

 

1 thought on “Cover Songs – Hallelujah”

  1. I love Pentatonix. I think therir version of Hallelujah is the best! Their harmony is amazing. Sad that Avi, the bass singer left the group.

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