Tuesday, December 16, 2008


There's a terrible fuss-a-brewing about who should be allowed to be Christmas Number One. Fighting it out are that Burke from X Factor and Jeff 'Armbands' Buckley. To be fair, it's only right that Spare Leona Lewis gets her week at number one before throwing herself whole-heartedly into opening shopping centres the length and breadth of the UK for all of next year.

That aside, the point is that the Jeff fans are trying to save the song 'Hallelujah' from being sullied by the hand of X Factor, as if the song itself somehow has feelings, that can be hurt. Fuckwits. If that were the case the poor thing would have been in a foetal position rocking back and forth under a running shower since 1994 after what Jeff did to it. In fact, if you go back far enough and listen to Leonard Cohen's original and use the same thinking, it probably would have been taken into care in 1984 and laughing Len would have been charged with child abuse.

Furthermore, Jeff Buckley described his version as an homage to "the hallelujah of the orgasm". That's right - he decided to record it, by his own admission, after a particularly good wank. That's probably why it sounds so lacklustre.

I've listened to Alexandra Burke's take on it. Or at least the take that Alexandra Burke has been instructed to have on it, and it's no better or worse than Jeff Buckley's. She inevitably does that thing where she takes something that's already soulful and tries to imbue it with soul, creating the soul-cancelling-out effect that you find on most recordings by alleged modern alleged soul alleged singers. Keep it simple, stupid.

Aaaaanyway, all of this is me digressing quite spectacularly, but then, you can't stop me - it's my blog and only the second time I've posted on it this year, so lap it up. What I really need to point out is that the money raised by both the Burke and Buckley versions goes to swell the coffers of SonyBMG Music. Now, it's your choice, but if ever there was an incentive for anyone to steal it off the internet I would have thought that was it.

I'm going to put up Leonard's version from YouTube, mainly because you need to hear the 'original' if you only know any of the bazillion cover versions. I can't help but be reminded of that William Shatner album when I hear it. It really is bad. It's lucky that John Cale sorted it all out, simplified it and made a concise reading from the 84 verses or however many Len wrote for it. Cos after all, it's John Cale's version that everybody uses nowadays as their blueprint for it, eh? His still isn't the best one though. That's Rufus Wainwright's. I don't see you all clamouring to get him to the top of the charts right now though, do I? What's the matter, is he not cool enough for you? There's a certain irony in everybody getting behind Jeff Buckley when he's too dead to appreciate it instead of making the Christmas of a man who's as camp as it.

Oh, before any aggrieved Jeffrey devotees pile in and make a mess of my comments section - word of advice for you. Briefly go away and listen to Tim Buckley doing it properly then come back and we'll talk. 'Cept we won't, cos I don't talk to Jeff Buckley fans.

Leonard Cohen - Hallelujah. I'll tell you what - when that enormous choir bellows in on the chorus, it's beautifully understated. Nice one Len, well judged.

Rufus Wainwright - Hallelujah. Off you go now, Ruf. Go and hustle your way on to the Shrek soundtrack. This video's even got the words so you and your family can get round for a nice game of maudlin karaoke on Christmas morning.

I've enjoyed this. I might start again at it next year. Who knows, I might even put on a gig before I realise I'm absolutely sick to fucking death of it some gigs under the I Look Ill 'umbrella'. That's right - I'M RELAUNCHING THE BRAND. For about a week.