Hallelujah is a song written by Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen and originally released on his studio album Various Positions (1984). The song found greater popular acclaim by way of a cover by John Cale, which formed the basis for a later cover by Jeff Buckley.

Hallelujah, in its original version, is a song in "12/8 feel", which evokes the styles of both waltz and gospel music. Cohen's original version contains several biblical references, most notably evoking the stories of Samson and traitorous Delilah from the Book of Judges as well as the adulterous King David and Bathsheba: "she cut your hair" and "you saw her bathing on the roof, her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you".

Hallelujah lyrics

I heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don?t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth,
The minor fall, the major lift,
The baffled king composing hallelujah...
Hallelujah hallelujah
Hallelujah hallelu-u-u-jah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you.
She tied you to a kitchen chair,
She broke your throne, she cut your hair,
And from your lips she drew the hallelujah...
Hallelujah hallelujah (2)

Baby, I?ve been here before,
I know this room, I?ve walked this floor,
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I?ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It?s a cold and it?s a broken hallelujah...
Hallelujah hallelujah (2)

There was a time, you let me know
What?s really going on below,
But now you never show it to me, do you?
But remember when I moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was hallelujah...
Hallelujah hallelujah (2)

Maybe there?s a God above
And all I ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you.
And it?s not a cry you can hear at night
It?s not somebody who?s seen the light
It?s a cold and it?s a broken hallelujah...
Hallelujah hallelujah (4)

Famous cover versions

John Cale

Cale's cover first appeared on I'm Your Fan (1991), a Leonard Cohen tribute album, and later on his live album Fragments of a Rainy Season (1992).

Cale's version forms the basis of most subsequent performances, including Cohen's performances during his 2008–2009 world tour. It was also the version used in the film Shrek (2001) (although it did not appear on the film's soundtrack album).

Jeff Buckley

American singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley, inspired by Cale's earlier cover, recorded one of the best-known versions of Hallelujah for his debut album Grace in 1994.

The Buckley version has been widely featured in film and television dramas, including the series The West Wing, Crossing Jordan, Without a Trace, The O.C., Scrubs, House, Criminal Minds, ER, Third Watch, Ugly Betty and LAX, and the films Feast of Love, The Edukators, Vinterkyss and Lord of War.

Rufus Wainwright

Canadian musician Rufus Wainwright had briefly met Jeff Buckley and was struck by the singer, recording a tribute to him after his 1997 death. Wainwright's version was featured on the album Shrek: Music from the Original Motion Picture, although it was Cale's version that was used in the film itself. The Shrek soundtrack, containing Wainwright's cover, was certified Double Platinum in the United States in 2003 as achieving sales of over two million copies.

k.d. lang

k.d. lang recorded a version of Hallelujah in 2004 on her album Hymns of the 49th Parallel. Lang performed the song as part of the 2010 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Alexandra Burke

Alexandra Burke, the winner of the fifth series of British reality television show The X Factor, released a condensed cover version of the song as a prize for her victory. It reached the Christmas Number One spot on UK charts on 21 December 2008.

Burke's version broke a European sales record after selling over 105,000 digital downloads in just one day, breaking the previous record set by Leona Lewis.

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