It goes without saying that Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' is one of the most widely recognized and loved ballads in American music. You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone over the age of 20 (and even amongst many people under the age of 20) who couldn't immediately recognize the track by its opening chords.
First recorded in 1984, the track has remained pervasive in American culture for over three decades; something that can be said for very few individual tracks. It has been used in countless films and is an incredibly popular audition and performance song for televised talent competitions. 'Hallelujah' is the kind of song that hits you right in the chest and tears your heart open, and this is why so many people feel such a powerful connection to it. The lulling pace of the melody line and long-held phrases deepen the quietly devastating feeling of remembering a past lover, something most of us can relate to strongly.
While Leonard Cohen's original recording received mild success, it was Jeff Buckley's cover that skyrocketed the track to extreme fame. Though it was recorded in 1994, it didn't become massively popular until 2008 when Jason Castro sang the song on American Idol. Fans of the show began downloading the Buckley track in droves, and 'Hallelujah' soared to the number-one spot on Billboard's 'Hot Digital Songs.' After Buckley's version won the hearts of millions, not much else could compare. It's this high level of acclaim that makes it a very difficult track to cover. Every once in while, though, someone delivers a version that's absolutely worth hearing, and Bon Jovi did just that.
In 2007, he released a music video of a stripped-down, live performance of 'Hallelujah.' While you might be used to hearing Jon Bon Jovi's raspy, rock vocals, this cover shows a softer side to his vocal capabilities without being too much of a departure from his signature style. While it may not be the gentle, clear Buckley version we all know and fell in love with, it succeeds because Bon Jovi has applied his unique style to the track instead of trying to merely fill Buckley's shoes.
What do you think of Bon Jovi's cover? Which version of the track is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!