Since its release – to general indifference – in 1984, the famous song “Hallelujah”, written by Canadian singer and poet Léonard Cohen, has been covered hundreds of times by artists around the world. While the documentary “Hallelujah: the words of Léonard Cohen” will be released in theaters on October 19, here are the 5 most beautiful covers of this iconic hit.
In 1988, singer and songwriter Bob Dylan was among the first to put his voice on the verses of Leonard Cohen, who died in 2016 at the age of 82. He had performed a blues-rock cover of “Hallelujah” during his Never Ending Tour, in Montreal, birthplace of Leonard Cohen. But the version of Bob Dylan, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016, was not enough at the time to make this title famous.
For that, we had to wait until 1991, and John Cale’s version. The Welsh singer covered ‘Hallelujah’ for a Leonard Cohen tribute album, titled ‘I’m Your Fan’. With the agreement of Léonard Cohen, who had sent him by fax about fifteen verses, the former member of the Velvet Underground had modified a passage of the original text. And it is this cover that prompted singer Jeff Buckley to record his own version, the most famous in the world.
Having become a staple of popular culture, the original version of “Hallelujah” was first rejected by Columbia Records, then ignored when it was released. This spiritual and mystical title has become world famous thanks to the American singer Jeff Buckley, whose fatal fate – he died drowned at the age of 30 – participated in its legend. His unforgettable version appears in his first and last album, “Grace”, released in 1994. To date, the clip has been viewed more than 200 million times on Youtube.
Bono, the frontman of rock band U2, also covered this track. This is a trip-hop version released in 1995 as part of a Leonard Cohen tribute album. But the Irish singer is not very proud of it. So much so that during an interview with rock critic Alan Light, he wanted to “apologize” for this version in which he speaks more than he sings.
Another cult cover: that of Rufus Wainwright. It is one of the best known. And for good reason, the Canadian-American artist interpreted it for the needs of the soundtrack of the film “Shrek”, released in 2001, which marked an entire generation.
Jon Bon Jovi
Impossible not to mention the cover of Jon Bon Jovi, leader of the American rock band Bon Jovi. The singer performed this captivating version on stage in 2007. Chills guaranteed.
Pentatonix has also revisited this great classic. And their a cappella cover was a hit. The band from Texas had posted their version on Youtube in 2016, on the occasion of the release of their Christmas album “A Pentatonix Christmas”.
And in a week, the video, in which the five singers walk in the middle of a desert, had already accumulated 24 million views. To date, it has recorded more than…680 million.