back to article Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah set for top two spots in Christmas Day charts

A bunfight has kicked off on the interwebs between fans of the teary-eyed winner of X Factor and fey, navel-gazing muso types who want their Hallelujah back. The result? Leonard Cohen’s oft-covered love song could occupy the number one and number two slots on Christmas Day. Fans have been doing their best to counteract …


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  1. Rob

    buckers ftw

    I hope dearly buckers can bring it back from the grave and then a truly deserving cover will be #1, burke is quite a good singer, but no-one's ever gonna beat jeff's version, just leave it be!!!

    I'm glad theres enough people with an appreciation for jeffs one that this has gained such momentum, over the past month or so i've been enjoying grace immensely as I sit by the open fire sucking on tasty volcano vapor, I recommend everyone else does the same, keep it festive

  2. Ken Okumura
    Paris Hilton

    Go Jeff...

    Surely a link to the facebook group is in order...80,000 members and climbing...

    Paris, because I'm sure she's a closet Buckley fan...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    None are a patch on the original

    If someone had been on the ball in Cohen's management they would have released a live version from the tour - that would have shown up both covers as nothing short of monkey poo compared to the Master himself.

  4. Ian Tunnacliffe
    IT Angle


    Sorry - what is this X-factor thing?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Music labels

    oh how great it is to be a money sucking leach like sony.

    I personally hope that both of these music "artists" die in a hysterical car accident after a night binge drinking in London.

  6. Stevie


    Everyone knows the definitive version is the one Bono did on Tower of Song.

  7. Mark

    The cause

    Just to point out.. the aim of the group is not to stop Sony BMG making money - in fact most know full well they stand to win whatever happens. Nor is it to mindlessly slate Miss Burke.

    It's simply to highlight the greatest version of the song. If it achieves number 2 at the weekend... then that has been achieved. Of course regardless of the Alexandras talent, most would say its a pretty weak cover. Thats not her fault though.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    The Charts?

    "Hey, get round the television, everyone: it's Sir Stiff vs. Status Queue, part 374!" The annual Christmas music charts obsession, like tabulating and extrapolating music sales is still *so* interesting and relevant. British media groupthink at its very finest, and everyone is sure to be watching the left hand while the right hand gives them the shaft. Dumb enough yet are we, Britain?

  9. Watashi

    No need!

    As a fan of actual music (as opposed to noise with a brand name attatched), I'm morally opposed to both Buckley's narcissistic, 'look at me, I'm so depressed because my mum won't drop me off round the corner from school when she gives me a lift in the Range Rover - it's so embarrasing because I'm only 16 and my friends are 17 and all drive brand new Nissan Micras' rot and the 'I've said it before and I'll say it again, democracy just doesn't work', X-Factor Opportunity Knocks pish.

    I'm hoping for a decent Christmas number one.

    Go John Sergeant!

  10. david

    The funny thing is that...

    ...people are treating it as a sacred song. Check the original, it's a little bit bitter and a little bit sexual.

    I hope Lenny gets enough out of it to retire. He's top of my list of people I'd like to get pissed with...

  11. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Music labels


    1) 'Leech'.

    2) One of the artists is already dead, dipstick, and wishing it on others is *so* uncool.

    Personally I think the Buckley version is unsurpassable, so I'm not going to get all offended by one more person doing a version - I'm just not that interested in it. If others are into it and miss out on better versions, it's their loss. It's one of the greatest songs ever and almost unequalled in its robustness when it comes to being covered - you can't really fuck it up or somehow ruin the original or whatever you consider to be the definitive version by doing another forgettable one. Timmy Mallett couldn't fuck it up, so a competent enough and vaguely soulful warbler like Alexandra Burke will do fine. Let her have a Christmas number one. Why should anyone get upset?

    Ahhhhh, it's so relaxing not to care about these things.

  12. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)


    Come to think of it I feel a bit sorry for Alexandra. This is her one moment of lovely awesomeness and joy before she's put on the treadmill, starts to realise how horrible and soul-destroying the industry actually is, and becomes just another generic pop singer who'll either ascend to Leona-grade stardom or slither back into ignonimious normalcy and obscurity where she'll always wistfully remember the one time she was recognised.

    Kind of seems mean-spirited to do this Buckley-bomb, then. Buckley's been dead for years - his legacy is secure, and people will either flap their arms and pule about what a whining adolescent he was (oh behave), or celebrate him as an artist of merit, blah blah. He wouldn't care. It's ridiculous.

    Hmm, now I feel like going and downloading Alexandra's version, just to make a point about the point everyone else thinks is so important to make. But then I still don't care enough to do that.


  13. David

    indie bores Snow Patrol

    Come on. The fist album was brilliant. 2nd not so much and 3rd... well. hmmm.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    What amuses me about this song...

    .. is that of all the versions I've heard so far I like Cohen's the least. Buckley gave it a very creative spin, Rufus Wainwright did a slightly boring but rather pretty makeover - but Cohen's is just terrible.

  15. Paul Coen
    IT Angle

    Things I don't think you can improve on.

    My favorite version of this song is John Cale's from "Fragments of a Rainy Season", and likely always will be. Hope Cohen gets some grocery money on the sudden interest, at least.

    Oh, never mind, they're downloading the song. There's the IT angle.

  16. Robert Steadman
    IT Angle

    Please, save our Christmas!

    Everybody buy the Buckley version, or we'll keep hearing this one on every year's Christmas hits compilation from here on.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So the RichRoll thing isn't going too well then?

    I thought it would be quite amusing if this: did actually work and scuppered the X-Factor winner from getting to number 1.

  18. clive howard

    Leonard Cohen beats them both

    Leonard Cohen's rendition is far and away the superior version.

    And who says he ain't the prettiest?

  19. Adam Williamson
    Thumb Up

    Stevie and Dominic

    I was going to say something along the lines of Dominic's post - comparatively few people have the original Cohen album it comes from, but those who do know it's a gigantic pile of 80s cheese: great songs, somewhat compromised by the poorly-recorded gospel choirs and synthesized *everything*.

    Also, Stevie, no fair! I have that album, and have been diligently trying to bury the memory of that hideous, Godawful cover from the one time I accidentally let it play for thirty seconds. *shudders*

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Another cracker of an El Reg article!

    Informative, relevant, concise, impartial - this was none of those!

    Classic El-Reg hacktard excrement!

  21. Anonymous Coward

    X Factor Judges

    > One of the artists is already dead, dipstick, and wishing it on others is *so* uncool.

    Does that include wishing it on Simon Cowell? Last I noticed he was a man whose waistband is around his nipples, which is about as uncool as you can get. He's getting paid millions for televising some auditions. That's right, auditions!

    Mine's the coat with the gun and a bullet with Cowell's name on it...

  22. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    So this Xmas...

    ... at the most depressing time of year for many people, the Number One song could be "music to slit your wrists to"...!

    Well, maybe there's a god above,

    But all I've ever learned from love

    Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you.

    It's not a cry that you hear at night

    It's not somebody who's seen the light

    It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah...

    Happy Xmas everyone...

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sheer pain

    I'm damaging muscles from wincing and rolling my eyes at the mere mention of the Yuk factor. If anyone felt a convincing reason was required to ban ITV entirely and erase all mention of them from history, this programme is it. I never thought I'd see El Reg stoop so low.

    Anyway, as mentioned above, Cohen's version is unsurpassable.

  24. Steven
    Black Helicopters

    What about the kinks?

    Hallelujah? what's the big deal? it's a boring song no matter who sings it. Give me the kinks - father christmas any day!

    Santa drives a black helicopter in the non xmas season...

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Re: X Factor Judges

    "Mine's the coat with the gun and a bullet with Cowell's name on it..."

    Back of the line ... and believe me, it's a long one.

    Personally, I couldn't give a flying fuck who gets the Christmas no.1 although I derive some comfort that it's not gonna be Sir Stiff Pilchard.

    There'd be something deliciously ironic about Leonard Cohen being no.1 ...

    Flames, because I'm sure there's a special circle of Hell being prepared for Cowell & co.

  26. David Haworth


    Give me John Cale's version any day.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    ARRGHHH I'd rather listion to Vogan Poetry instead!!

    Personally I'm at a loss to find a Song more hateful then this steaming Pile of Rancid Feces!

    I don't care who sings it!!!

    Then again anything hat has to do with Adults and there "Imaginary Friends", is enough to send me in a tizzy.

    Please pitch-in and stop this needless Mind-Pollution...

    Sci-Guy 'cause I agree w/Darwin. Now if only these Monkeys on X-Factor would only evolve!?!

  28. Ben

    @ Dominic van Berk

    "Buckley gave it a very creative spin"

    No he didn't - he put an echo pedal on and copied John Cale...

  29. beast666


    Whoops, I posted something similar to the WoW article, but maybe this is the best place for it...

    Hallelujah by The Happy Mondays c. 1989 is the definitive version... yes, not the same song, but it is much better, don't you know...

    @ Sarah Bee.. Hallelujah, Hallelujah, we're here to pull yer...


  30. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    It doesn't matter who sings it

    it's still the musical equivalent of freezing drizzle.

  31. Steve Overall

    KD Lang

    I'll take K D Lang's version over Buckley's or some dozy X-Factor bint any day;

  32. Danny

    "Just a kid with a crazy dream"

    Most of the other songs on that Cohen album are better. The John Cale version is by far the best. Buckleys duet with Liz Fraser 'All Flowers in time bend towards the sun' is a far better song than his cover of Hallelujah.

    Shouldn't JLS have sang Cohens 'Alexandra leaving' instead ?

  33. Andrew Taylor

    For Christs (mass) sake

    boycott both and buy the Terry Wogan / Aled Jones version of Little Drummer Boy, at least the money's going to Children In Need and not Sony & Cowell

  34. Anonymous Coward

    This song is dreadful

    Seems I have Cohens version in my collection, well I did and after listening to about 75% of it I have deleted it. The X-factor one was on the radio earlier and it's weak, just like everything else in the programme (lets face it, if any of them were any good they would have been discovered years ago).

    If it can be stopped from being xmas number one by anything we need to do it and then hopefully it will get the dross of the TV forever.

    I think Peter Kays song should be number 1 as at least the profits go to a worthy cause and with Baby P fresh in everyones minds an NSPCC song is very appropriate, rather than lining Cowell and Sonys pockets.

  35. beast666

    Did a *bit* of research

    And found that the Andy Buckley version is rubbish...

    I still maintain the Happy Mondays version is the one you want to hear with Grandma on Xmas day.

    Still, this is better with your loved(ex) ones

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh, Sarah Bee

    You said "normalcy". It just ruined my Christmas.

  37. Niall

    Bloody Covers

    So do people still write songs anymore and can we take bets on how many songs in the Xmas top 10 are going to be covers?

    Hendrix, All Along the Watchtower, best cover ever people should have given up after that.

  38. Dane Pack
    IT Angle

    I don't care about this so much I posted two comments

    saying so.

  39. Dane Pack

    Re: I don't care about this so much I posted two comments


  40. Graham Lockley

    @Andrew Taylor

    >boycott both and buy the Terry Wogan / Aled Jones version of Little Drummer Boy

    If anything will raise my venom levels higher than X-Whatever its the mention of the W***** word. Lets all all argue about the definitive version of a rather depressing dirge (I do like Cale and Buckleys versions BTW) but lets not descend into complete mindless mediocrity by bring that Irish tw*t into the debate.

  41. Andy Bright

    I'm guessing

    That this X-Factor thing is another one of those karaoke shows? I still think the quality karaoke shows all come from Japan, nothing beats a Japanese version of the Beatles and the timeless classics they belt out.

  42. Dave

    erm just a thought

    but shouldn't it be 'ignominious' sarah? or have I missed some adult humour...damn the xbox!

  43. Dave

    insert something of any relevance here

    All things being equal who gives a fu...oh i can't be arsed.

  44. Steen Hive
    Thumb Down


    Even the worst production in the history of the universe couldn't ruin this song, but Buckley & Burke's pansy versions are just offensive. Checkout Cohen at Glastonbury on youtube for the gravelly truth.

  45. soaklord

    Obviously you are all wrong!

    The only version of this song that is worth anything is Willie Nelson's! Sheesh. Do a little research people!

    Flame on!

  46. David Mantripp


    Another vote for Cale here. And KD Lang in #2 spot.

  47. Tom

    @Ian Tunnacliffe

    I broke all my limbs and had my teeth kicked out in fight and was unable to bite my tongue and bleed to death or hold my breath long enough to pass out so I was stuck watching the telly when X-Factor came on an I couldnt do anything about it.

    It turns out that X-Factor is the medias equivalent of the BSoD.

    You can upgrade to avoid this - it requires a 1kg mass of fired earth and should be installed through the glass of your CRT or flat screen at about 50ms-1. It simply not worth having a TV in case you get caught like I did.

  48. TeeCee Gold badge


    The Sisters of Mercy doing Floyd's "Comfortably Numb". They used to do this better than Floyd ever did it and that's saying something. Trouble here is (AFAIK) they only ever did this live. So it's a "you had to be there" sort of thing. The time they opened with it on a Tuesday some 15 years ago (fuck, I feel old now) at the Brixton Academy is probably the definitive version. Awesome.

    When it comes to covers IMHO, if you can't think of a way of reinterpreting the original, you shouldn't bother. If you want to do it the same way it's always been done, form a tribute band.

  49. Steve Barnett

    I wonder who owns the publishing rights?

    Ahh, the Cowell money making machine continues to roll. Cowells company Sony BMG owns the publishing and sheet music rights to Hallelujah, (dreadful old durge), and he has just been granted label rights to the work of all the X-Factor winners for another 5 years.

    Bring back the Generation Game, Blankity Blank, or Stars in their Eyes (No, only joking, really no!)

    Should see him nicely through the recession though.

  50. Greg

    Re: Music Labels

    "I personally hope that both of these music "artists" die in a hysterical car accident after a night binge drinking in London."

    You idiot....

  51. Matt Kimber
    Black Helicopters


    The "push this song to the top of the charts over this other one for x arbitrary reason or other" seems to be such a fixture of the Christmas charts that I half wonder whether the record companies poke the "grassroots campaign" into action in the first place.

    Note that the pop song du jour usually wins, after a "nailbiting", "close" and "tense" battle, of course.

  52. Anonymous Coward


    Well, I downloaded the Buckley one, but it's a bit meh really. Not as meh as hers, but give me a Cohen version, or rather more obscurely, Arooj Aftab's cover any day.

    Mine's the one with the kitchen chair

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    If your going to do it......

    ...... do it right (Wham, I think). Anyway, the best way to decide the best version of Hallelujah is to have an X-Factor Xmas Special with all remaining living artists performing for Simon and Co. and let the panel vote (with the required phone-in voting - which will be ignored).

    Also, Niall, totally agree - Hendrix 'All along the watchtower' is the best cover version ever.

    Also also, I've had Jeff Buckley's Grace album for a while and 'Lover, you should have come over' is the best track on it.

  54. Danny Monaghan


    @ beast666 - who's Andy Buckley?

    Most of the cover versions done are based on what John Cale did with the song, so he should get most of the credit, but most people seem to agree that the Jeff Buckley version is the best of a huge pile of covers.

    I spend ages the other day listening to loads of these, and to my musical tastes, Buckleys is the best, followed by Cales.

  55. bygjohn

    @ beast666

    Nah, if you want alternatives I'd take Can's Halleluwah any day (delightful extended throb on Tago Mago for the uninitiated).

  56. Robert Ramsay

    And remember folks...

    ...Christmas is all about tolerance, love and goodwill. But you wouldn't know it from reading this lot.

  57. Anonymous Coward


    But this is *important*.

  58. Andrew Kemp
    Thumb Up

    Best version is...

    ...the version by Katherine Jenkins. Far and ahead the best sounding and vocally talented version.

  59. Anonymous Coward


    I do wish people would realise that a bunfight is not a fight at all.

    It's "a grand formal party on an important occasion".

    Don't worry though, everyone seems to misuse it these days.


  60. Robert Ramsay

    if it's important...

    Then you should all go and watch John Cale's version on You-Tube.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    thought it was all crap on X factor

    Now I find it was written by LC, who I thought was pretty dire back in the early days, it explains my aural appreciation.

  62. David S

    I heard Alexandra's version in the car this evening.

    ...and it was pretty much your standard R-n-B-can't-stay-on-a-single-note-for-a-second kind of warbling fluff. It didn't sound much like a cold and a broken hallelujah to me. But what do I know.

    I quite liked the version that was on the Shrek soundtrack.* Who sang that, then?

    * I have kids, that's why. Screw you.

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