Is Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" the most divine?

Aren’t you almost envious of the people who heard Leonard Cohen’s "Hallelujah" for the first time last night when Jason Castro sang it on American Idol? They still have their first listen of the late Jeff Buckley’s soul-shaking rendition ahead of them.

Those people do exist, by the way. Shortly after Idol ended, I went on YouTube and found them leaving comments on the official video of Buckley’s cover. Then, I watched the folks who’d already loved the song as much as Simon Cowell does show up, itching to debate whose take is best. So, let’s do it. Is it…

Jeff Buckley’s "Hallelujah"

k.d. lang’s "Hallelujah"

Rufus Wainwright’s "Hallelujah"

Leonard Cohen’s "Hallelujah"

Allison Crowe’s "Hallelujah"

ADDENDUM: John Cale’s "Hallelujah"

Me, I’m sticking with Buckley. When he sang the song, he seemed to go to another dimension, a place where his haunting, imperfect voice could sound simultaneously broken and joyously reckless. Does he get your vote?

Comments (161 total) Add your comment
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  • Snarf

    Sorry – gotta go with KD

  • Deluxx

    Yep, it’s k.d. Gives me the shivers.

  • Catzak

    Yup, Buckley gets my vote.

  • RajShekar

    This probably WASN’T the first time kids had heard this song. Remember: it’s prominently featured in the first Shrek movie that most kids have watched about 8 billion times on DVD.

  • SZ

    Rufus is the best. Always will be.

  • Ashley

    What about Imogen Heap’s version? I think it was used in an episode of the O.C., and I thought it was amazing. I also really love the Jeff Buckley version as well.

  • Peter

    John Cale.

  • miss

    John Cale–the version used in the movie Shrek. It is so haunting. Just my personal choice.

  • BLM

    This song always reminds me of The O.C.–Ryan carrying around a drunk/dying Marissa. Good times…

  • Claire

    Bon Jovi does a good cover, but Buckley is always number one. i have had many conversations (read: agruments) with people who felt he is the only one. I hate AI but i’m very glad to hear that Castro didn’t butcher it.

  • Hemisphire
  • cl

    For me, John Cale’s is the best. His voice is sounds so broken and haunted. It’s gorgeous.
    Jeff Buckley comes in as a runner-up though.

  • Jill

    kd and Allison sing it too loud; not sure if it’s because they’re female. Cohen is good but his voice isn’t singing as much as talking. Rufus is really good, love the piano playing. But I guess I have to go with Jeff Buckley; it is hauntingly beautiful.

  • Miranda

    I’ll admit that I haven’t heard every version made of the song, but I have heard the Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright, John Cale, and the original Leonard Cohen version. Jeff Buckley’s version reigns supreme, even over the original. I used to play it all the time when I was a DJ for my college’s radio station. It’s hard to describe how absolutely moving he is and how emotional I get when I listen to it (although part of the emotion may come from Buckley’s premature death). I do envy those people that first listen.

  • Angela

    My favorite version is Ari Hest’s. I don’t know if it’s on YouTube or not… But seriously, look it up. Just gorgeous. I love Ari Hest.

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