Thursday, November 17, 2016

SR: "Hallelujah" Pentatonix Delivers New Version of "Hallelujah"

A couple of days after the passing of Canadian master-poet singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen, (see my  obituary), I stumbled upon Texas a cappella quintet Pentatonix'version of the Cohen penned and by now cult song "Hallelujah" from their second Christmas album, "A PENTATONIX CHRISTMAS" which was released on October 21st together with the video. As to the Billboard Chart of 11/26 the album is still in the Top Five of the 200 Best Selling Albums in the US,

It looks like the video was filmed on the Salt Flats of Utah, but that's just a wild guess and I couldn't find any references on the net. So with over 300 versions of the legendary classic, how does the quintet rate. Actually great - as they offer an a cappella (without instruments) version, it sounds new and not just as another remake. And I assume, that 50 Million people agree, who have watched Pentatonix version since it's release roughly 4 weeks ago. (If only one percent of these viewers discover the greatness of the late Leonard Cohen and Jeff Buckley, the quintet's version did in my opinion well.) Unfortunately, the song didn't too well as a single and on the radio, it entered strong into the Top 100 (Billboard) on #32 (11/12), but has since then been falling. Maybe it will get a second wind with the passing of Cohen.

★★★★(★)/★★★★★ (4½/5)

I guess it proves the point how timeless that song is, the original version by Cohen was released 32 years ago, in 1984 on his album "VARIOUS POSITIONS" but hardly got recognized. Seven years later, former Velvet Underground man, John Cale, recorded a first version with added piano track. This one inspired a cut by Jeff Buckley on his debut and only full studio album "GRACE" in 1994. Buckley pretty much made the song his own, and until now with roughly 100 Million views, is the most viewed version on the streaming platform YouTube.

A year and a half ago, Newsweek in an article "60 Versions of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", Ranked" actually tried to put many of the versions in order. Their Top-Five (5-1): k.d. lang from "HYMNS OF THE 40TH PARALLEL" 2004, Regina Spektor (concert for the Jewish Heritage Festival, 2005 YouTube - no recorded version), Rufus Wainwright (OST - SHREK: Music from the Original Motion Picture, 2001), Jeff Buckley ("GRACE" 1994): and John Cale ("I'M YOUR FAN" 1991) on top.

Below are Jeff Buckley's, k.d. lang's and John Cale's version of the song - you'll find the original in the obit I wrote On Niume.

Jeff Buckley

k.d. lang

John Cale

Sources: YouTube (Videos), (Pentatonix website), Newsweek, Billboard