It’s been 32 years since Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen released his somber track “Hallelujah” as part of his seventh studio album Various Positions. Cohen’s “Hallelujah” has been famously covered by a number of different artists, including Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright, k.d. lang, Jennifer Hudson, John Cale and many more.
Following Cohen’s death on November 7, actor Kate McKinnon performed “Hallelujah” later that week on Saturday Night Live while in costume as Hillary Clinton. Since Cohen’s death and McKinnon’s performance, there’s been a spike in interest for the 1984 song, so much so that Cohen’s original performance of “Hallelujah” has finally cracked the Billboard Hot 100, debuting at no. 59.
While this week’s Billboard charts represent first time Cohens’ original version of the song has landed on the Hot 100 chart, covers of the song by Justin Timberlake, Pentatonix, and performances from American Idol and The Voice have all previously charted.
Cohen’s 14th studio album You Want It Darker, released on October 21 just three weeks before his death, has also returned to Billboard 200’s Top 10 listing this week.
Approximately 80 drafts of the song were written before Cohen recorded the original version of “Hallelujah” for Various Positions. When performing the song live in concert, Cohen was known to change the lyrics, a move that isn’t surprising for one of history’s most prolific writers.