We’ve always been more than a bit fascinated by the songs that the nation of England chooses for its Christmas No. 1. For those of you who are unfamiliar (meaning those of you who have inexplicably been able to avoid Love Actually all these years), there is a particularly enthusiastic annual competition between record labels as to which artist will sell the most copies of a particular single during the week before Christmas*. The songs tend to fall into one of three broad categories: Christmas songs (duh), covers, or weird-ass novelty songs**. However, over the last few years, the country’s Christmastime tastes have been dominated by winners of X Factor, an American Idol–esque show that not so coincidentally wraps up in late December. And this year, two artists are going head-to-head in the charts with covers of Leonard Cohen’s timeless and darkly sexual song, “Hallelujah.”
As you might expect, the recent resurgence of “Hallelujah” across the pond is being driven by this year’s X Factor winner, a young lass named Alexandra Burke. She’s sold more than 150,000 copies of the song to the TV-watching masses, but not without stirring up some controversy. After all, there are legions of passionate Jeff Buckley fans who consider his rendition to be THE definitive version of the song, and they organized a campaign in order to try to knock Burke’s (clearly inferior) interpretation off the charts. Though we won’t know who will emerge victorious until Sunday, there is one clear beneficiary who wins regardless of the outcome. That being, of course, Leonard Cohen. According to The Guardian, the septuagenarian is set to make some 250,000 pounds in royalties from the battle. That’ll buy a lot of Nutella!
Anyway, we’re assuming you’ve all heard Buckley’s version by now, but we’re guessing you haven’t heard Burke’s. So here goes:
*Why that phenomenon never caught on over here, we’ll never know. Stupid record companies.
**For example, we just happened to be traveling through England back in 1993 when a truly frightful character named Mr. Blobby landed the Christmas No. 1 spot with a legendarily awful song called, appropriately enough, “Mr. Blobby” (trust us, you never want to hear it). Then, a few years later, some animated monstrosity called Bob the Builder hit the top of the charts.
Hallelujah set to be a Christmas No 1 and 2 [Guardian]