One night, I happened to catch a few seconds of The Voice, the latest in a string of fabricated ‘reality’ shows based around the concept of finding the next new singing talent. As per usual, it results in a commercialised pile of ass. But that’s not the point of this post! One of the so called talents (according to the ads anyway) decided to take a crack at singing the Leonard Cohen classic, Hallelujah, and promptly ruined it by turning it into vocal roller coaster of over-emphasised phrasing and over-wrought emotion. Yawn.
To cleanse the palette after this horrendous experience, I decided to listen to Jeff Buckley’s version, which remains the pinnacle of how to perform this song. Hallelujah isn’t about being dramatic, or trying to see how large of a note range you can squeeze in there: it’s about letting the beauty and soul of the lyrics carry the song with as minimal distraction as possible. Buckley certainly achieved that with his cover, his voice offering the smooth lows and soaring highs without cluttering it unnecessarily with vocal panache. To this day, I’ve not yet heard it done better, and will unfortunately never hear it from the man again. Bravo, Mr. Buckley, bravo.