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Hallelujah hits number one and two slots in Christmas charts

A rather surreal development in the history of the masterpiece Hallelujah, a song we’ve written about on numerous occasions before.

That Burke chick looks ok (we’d hit that for sure!) but her cover version – at once bland and overblown – is atrociously bad! Like a mixture of Celine Dion and Whitney Houston and a zombie choir. Ewwwwww!!

We’re really happy though that the Cohen coffers are being filled, and however indirectly, the great man is in the public spotlight again!

Some versions of this classic (many of em rather bad!)

Kermit the frog | Mark Viduka tribute | Chris Moyles’ lamb bhuna | My Halloumia | Jeff Buckley | Bob Dylan | k.d. lang | Sheryl Crowe | Rufus Wainwright | U2 | Bon Jovi | John Cale | Imogen Heap | JLS | Alexandra Burke

Hallelujah hits number one and two slots in Christmas charts

The X Factor winner, Alexandra Burke, and the late Jeff Buckley scooped the Christmas No 1 and 2 slots yesterday with their covers of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, the first time in more than 40 years that one title has secured the top two places in the charts. Cohen himself came in at No 36.

Burke, who said she was “gutted” when first told that she would have to sing Hallelujah, notched up 576,000 sales, making her version the fastest-selling single by a female solo artist, beating the record set by Leona Lewis after she won The X Factor two years ago. Burke also smashed the online record, with 289,000 downloads, almost twice as many as Lewis in 2006.

Martin Talbot, managing director of the Official Charts Company, which compiles the figures, said: “It is a particularly amazing week for Alexandra Burke, who has broken a string of records to announce her arrival in spectacular style.” In addition, Mr Talbot said, chart placings at 1, 2 and 36 “are remarkable for a 25-year-old song which has never previously reached the Top 40”.
Times Archive, 1985: Leonard Cohen live at Hammersmith

The mournful Hallelujah may seem an unlikely choice for a Christmas single and Burke admitted yesterday: “It just didn’t do anything for me.”

What she called her “Whitney Houston spin”, with gospel choir, angered fans of the Cohen and Buckley versions. A campaign to promote Buckley’s 1994 version – released three years before he died aged 30 – saw it finish 496,000 sales behind Burke.

The last time one song held the top two spots is believed to be February 1965, when You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling was No 1 for the Righteous Brothers and No 2 for Cilla Black.

Take That have topped the album charts with The Circus, which sold 382,000 copies last week to take it to a million sales in 18 days, the second fastest album sales in history, after Be Here Now by Oasis in 1997.

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December 31, 2008 Posted by | Alexandra Burke, Hallelujah, Jeff Buckley, Leonard Cohen, _MUSIC | Leave a comment

Hallelujah: Why your version is the best

Another piece on Lenny’s sublime Hallelujah, which surreally, thanks to the effects of dilution (the process started with the saccharine Jeff Buckley version on the Grace LP and has never let up, as the song has become – and still becomes – ever more and more diluted!) and having a slew of awful reality show contestants and other muzak mongers recently abuse the song, scooped the Christmas No 1 and 2 slots in UK via X Factor winner, Alexandra Burke, and the late Jeff Buckley.

We’re not sure we see any logic in the argument being espoused in the article below though. On numerous occasions, we’ve first heard a song via a cover-version and have in most cases, having later sought out the original, found that to be even better.

As for the rather ridiculous matter of “best version” of Hallelujah, any real music fan will know that the two original versions by Lenny are clearly best!

There’s also a vid here for a 1995 version from Lord Bono, which the article writer hates, but we find interesting and kinda like – well, it’s far better than most of Bono’s output and far better than 90% of the awful covers of this masterpiece.

Alexandra_burke_2Hallelujah: Why your version is the best


Whose version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah is the best? I think there is a political dimension to this question.

Jeff Buckley? Sheryl Crow? Alexandra Burke? Rufus Wainwright? Leonard Cohen? Each has their own interpretation and each their partisan. So let me put forward a theory about why people prefer a particular artist.

They heard that artist sing the song first. (This isn’t true of absolutely every single person and every song, but true of most people and most songs).

When people hear a song they like and become attached to it, they will never enjoy a cover quite as much. The reason is that they anchor to the original. All other versions are departures from the version they fell in love with.

If I compare Rufus Wainwright to Jeff Buckley, I start with the Wainwright. Buckley seems underpowered. But for those who start with the Buckley version, the Wainwright may seem arch.

As Dan Ariely explains at the beginning of Predictably Irrational, we make choices by making comparisons. To do this we need to establish an anchor point.

The political dimension? Well, why does Gordon Brown appear to be soaring when he is in fact behind in the polls? And why are the Tories being asked where they would cut spending when in fact they plan increases? The answer is the same in both cases, it is that the position is compared to the anchor points – the 20 point Tory lead and the Government’s spending plans.

So that’s how you select your favourite Hallelujah version. That, and the fact that it isn’t this truly terrible version by Bono.

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December 31, 2008 Posted by | Alexandra Burke, Bono, Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen, _MUSIC, _VIDEO | 1 Comment