Battle of the Hallelujahs

by |
12/19/2008 6:00 PM |

Alexandra Burke, recent winner of Britain’s X-Factor pop competition, has recorded a gospel version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’. It has quickly become the fastest-selling digital single in European history. Culture Czar did a compare-contrast of previous attempts to rework Cohen’s composition, and determined, naturally, that Jeff Buckley’s goose-bumpy scale-soaring belt owns the “definite ‘Hallelujah’.”

We’re certainly partial to Buckley’s cover over the original — it is about as perfect as you can get. But weird:

Buckley fans, alarmed at Burke’s ascension, have amassed their own
forces, propelling their hero’s "Hallelujah" to No. 3, according to an
"unofficial provisional ‘mid-week’ chart." Should Buckley push his way
past Leona Lewis and her cover of Snow Patrol’s "Run" (doesn’t anyone
write their own songs anymore?), a single song would claim the top two
chart positions for the first time in history.

It seems strange that Buckley’s fans would consider Burke’s sudden popularity, via the song, as some kind of threat to the their idol’s well-documented cred. Lucy Powell founded the Faceboook campaign to mobilize Buckley’s cult followers, and she insists that it isn’t an attack on Burke. “I just wanted to make it clear to people that there was already an
amazing version of ‘Hallelujah’. I didn’t like the idea of a song whose
lyrics and melody I have found incredibly moving being used to sell
records by whichever competitor won a talent contest.”

Either way, this speaks to his fan’s enduring devotion and their willingness to act upon it, something that is nothing short of astonishing — Buckley’s ‘Hallelujah'” is charting fourteen years after it was released.

Hallelujah For Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’; Could It Be #1 and #2?” [Culture Czar]
Alexandra Burke [MySpace]