Leonard Cohen Songs, 'Hallelujah' Covers Storm Charts
In addition to Cohen's original, "Hallelujah" covers by Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright, Pentatonix & more grace multiple charts.
A host of songs and albums by Leonard Cohen soar on Billboard charts (dated Dec. 3) after the Nov. 7 death of the acclaimed singer-songwriter. Perhaps most notably, his signature song "Hallelujah" enters the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time, starting at No. 59. Meanwhile, cover versions of the classic dot the Hot 100, Hot Rock Songs and other charts.
Cohen's "Hallelujah," originally released on his 1984 album Various Positions, surges to 33,000 downloads sold (up 1,177 percent) and 3.8 million U.S. streams (up 279 percent) in the tracking week ending Nov. 17, according to Nielsen Music. Those numbers also spark the song's 20-5 vault on Hot Rock Songs, marking Cohen's best rank on the chart (which began in 2009). The track roars to No. 2 on Rock Digital Song Sales and debuts on Rock Streaming Songs at No. 6.
Among "Hallelujah" covers, Pentatonix's version, released Oct. 21 on the a cappella group's album A Pentatonix Christmas, is even outperforming Cohen's on the Hot 100. After debuting on the Hot 100 dated Nov. 12 at No. 32 (its peak so far), the cover slots in just above Cohen's original, rising 81-56 thanks to 27,000 downloads sold (up 29 percent) and 4.6 million streams (up 59 percent). The song also debuts at No. 29 on the Adult Contemporary airplay chart and leads Holiday Digital Song Sales for a fourth week.
While Cohen's original climbs, a pair of "Hallelujah" covers enter Hot Rock Songs, as Jeff Buckley's and Rufus Wainwright's versions debut at Nos. 10 and 16, respectively. Buckley's 1994 recording (itself inspired by a piano-led version by John Cale three years prior) and now considered by many to be the definitive take on the song, starts with 18,000 downloads sold (up 698 percent) and 1.7 million streams (up 205 percent). Wainwright's piano-based 1997 version, subsequently featured on the 2001 Shrek soundtrack (although Cale's plays during the movie), enters with 8,000 sold (up 588 percent) and 858,000 streams (up 148 percent).
Yet another "Hallelujah" cover on the charts: Lindsey Stirling's 2015 mostly-instrumental interpretation, which re-enters Hot Christian Songs at No. 44 after leading the chart for a week nearly a year ago (on Jan. 9); it's up by 159 percent to 1,000 sold.
Meanwhile, two other Cohen tracks debut on Hot Rock Songs. "You Want It Darker," the title cut from his final album (released Oct. 21), debuts at No. 22 (4,000 sold; 893,000 streams) and "Suzanne," another of Cohen's signature songs, from 1967, enters at No. 25 (4,000 sold; 747,000 streams).