Friday, December 19, 2008

Because nothing says Christmas like Leonard Cohen

Britain is having what the Times has described as a “post-Diana's-death hysteria moment” regarding a bitter battle being fought between two versions of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” for the much coveted Christmas number one spot. There has even been a demonstration planned for Trafalgar Square over it. The Prime Minister and some-time world savior Gordon Brown has gotten personally involved.

It’s time someone cleared this up. I’ve listened to God-kows-how-many versions of “Hallelujah”, and here are the best three:

3) The Scandinavian singalong version (embedding disabled):

2) Alexandra Burke’s version:

1) Cohen’s live version:

Believe it or not, Britain has been there before. In 1953, "Answer Me" occupied the top two positions in the Christmas chart. The song had previously been the center of a controversy over the mixture of the sacred and the secular in the lyrics: the words were changed from "Answer me, oh my Lord" to "Answer me, oh my love" in order to appease offended Christians.

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