Tag Archives: christmas single

‘Hallelujah’, cries Leonard Cohen’s accountant

'Cheers', says Leonard CohenIt’s looking more and more likely that one song could occupy number one and two in the Christmas singles chart this year – an unprecedented achievement at this or any time of the year.

What’s more uncertain is which version will pip the other to the festive top spot: X Factor winner Alexandra Burke’s rendition of Leonard Cohen’s exquisite, Old Testament-informed love song ‘Hallelujah’, or the late American singer/songwriter Jeff Buckley’s version, which has already been held up as one of the finest covers ever recorded.

Buckley’s version was catapulted back into the charts thanks to a Facebook campaign by fans presumably terrified that such a perfect song could be ‘tarred with the X Factor brush’.

But the general public, who’ve probably never heard of Buckley (or Cohen for that matter) and probably don’t use Facebook, and probably don’t care about such things as a song’s reputation, are already snapping up Burke’s version in the thousands, to the extent that it is already seen as an unstoppable Christmas number one.

The cynical view is that the whole ‘controversy’ is not about artistic integrity though; it’s intended to get people to buy records, so the PRs will be rubbing their hands with glee while millions of people debate which version should win, and put their money where their mouth is.

Personally, I think Burke’s warbling effort is a bloody travesty, and I’d like to see anything but an X Factor drone win Christmas number one. Alternatively, I’d like to see someone actually make a Christmas record, although ‘Hallelujah’ certainly has a Christmassy feel.

But in the end, perhaps the most important result of all this is that Leonard Cohen, one of the greatest songwriters of the past fifty years, gets a little financial boost this Christmas after his manager nicked his retirement fund.

Which is the best ‘Hallelujah’? Compare below…

Jeff Buckley

Alexandra Burke

Leonard Cohen

John Cale

Bob Dylan

Rufus Wainwright

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Malcolm Middleton gets into the Christmas spirit

Last week I had a quick chat with Malcolm Middleton for The Skinny magazine. The former Arab Strap man lamented the demise of the Christmas single, and explained why he has chosen to revitalise the tradition with the strangely upbeat We’re All Going to Die. Here’s what he had to say…

“We’re All Going to Die is my favourite song off A Brighter Beat [Malcolm’s third solo album, released earlier this year] and I’d always really planned it to be the first song to come off it but that didn’t really happen. And then I wanted it to come out now but it got tied up with people at the record label saying it should be a Christmas song. To me it was a bit confusing at first but then I thought, ‘why the Hell not?’ It’s as good a time as any to think about mortality.

“I’m not sure if the Christmas single has lost its relevance or if it’s just nostalgia but I remember in the 80s I was always really excited about what songs were gonna get released at this time of year, and you always knew Slade were gonna release their song. But the last couple of years especially it’s just become an X-Factor thing and you
don’t look forward to the Christmas single anymore, and now Top of the Pops is dead too.

“Everyone knows how bad Christmas has become commercially, it’s beyond saturation. But there are still nice elements, like walking down the city centre in late December and seeing the decorations.

“The whole thing’s humourous. I’m not trying to release a song that’s too serious. The message is to forget the small stuff and don’t let it get on top of you, and remember what’s important.

“At the moment I’m in Mercury, the rehearsing studios in Glasgow, so there are like bands playing all over the place. We’re rehearsing for the Radio 1 thing now, just trying to think of ideas for an alternative Christmas session. It’s good they’re doing something a bit more leftfield instead of the usual blandness.

“It was 1000/1 [the longest ever odds for a Christmas single] and then someone called today and said it’s 500/1, as if that’s gonna make any difference. I’ve never been to a betting office before so I wouldn’t know what to do but I might try putting a bet on.

“To have the longest ever odds for the Christmas number one is good and bad: it’s good that it’s something that hasn’t happened before, but then I thought, ‘wait a minute, why is it the longest odds?’ It’s not your ordinary Christmas single but yeah it’s funny.

“I don’t see it making the chart at all but it’s all about having an option there for people and making a bit of an effort.”

We’re All Going to Die is released on 17 Dec. Malcolm Middleton will play an alternative Christmas session on the Colin Murray show on Radio 1 on the same day.

You can listen to the song on Malcolm’s myspace.

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