Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen has asked for a brief respite from new versions of his classic “Hallelujah,” arguing the large number of artists covering the song and its frequent appearance on soundtracks amounts to overkill. “I was reading a review of a movie called Watchmen that uses it, and the reviewer said, ‘Can we please have a moratorium on ‘Hallelujah’ in movies and television shows?’ and I kind of feel the same way,” Cohen told the Guardian. “I think it’s a good song, but too many people sing it.”
Incidentally, the gratuitous sex scene in Watchmen that used “Hallelujah” actually employed Cohen’s own version of the song, one of the few times Cohen’s original has been unearthed in recent years. Since Jeff Buckley covered the song on his 1994 album Grace — using John Cale’s 1992 version of the song as his guide — “Hallelujah” has taken on hit status, thanks to renditions by the U.K.’s X Factor winner Alexandra Burke and American Idol Season Seven finalist Jason Castro. Kate Voegele, k.d. lang and Rufus Wainwright have also covered the song in the years since its original 1984 release, with Wainwright’s version featuring in 2001’s Shrek.
Despite the over-saturation of “Hallelujah,” the song’s recent chart-topping success on both sides of the ocean has given Cohen some sweet revenge. “There were certain ironic and amusing sidebars, because the record that it came from which was called Various Positions — a record Sony wouldn’t put out,” Cohen told the Guardian. “They didn’t think it was good enough… So there was a mild sense of revenge that arose in my heart.”
Cohen can’t complain about the extra royalties either, especially considering he was forced to tour after a lengthy hiatus because his former manager made off with most of his assets. Meanwhile, we’re still surprised that Leonard Cohen is sitting around reading reviews of the superhero flick Watchmen.
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