Video: Is “Hallelujah” Pop Culture’s Most Overplayed Song?

This video by Kevin B. Lee on Fandor Keyframe—aptly named “How Pop Culture Overplayed ‘Hallelujah’ ”—compiles some of the most notable times that pop culture used all of the song’s various covers. Lee’s video was inspired by Nick Murray’s article in the New York Times titled “How Pop Culture Wore Out Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah,’ ” written as a reaction to Tori Kelly’s performance of the song during the In Memoriam sequence at the Emmy Awards in September.

Excerpted from Hallelujah Again By Madeline Raynor (Slate: 12 October 2016).

While the claim that “This Video Shows That ‘Hallelujah’ Is Pop Culture’s Most Overplayed Song” is hyperbole, the video does offer an entertaining group of versions of Hallelujah in TV and movie soundtracks.

Videos: Leonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows & Concrete Blonde Cover In Pump Up The Volume

volumeLeonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows is the pirate radio station’s theme song in Pump Up The Volume. The same film also featured the Concrete Blonde cover of Everybody Knows

Leonard Cohen – Everybody Knows
Pump Up The Volume


Concrete Blonde – Everybody Knows by Leonard Cohen
Pump Up The Volume

Highly Recommended Reading: Stranger Songs: The Music of Leonard Cohen in McCabe & Mrs. Miller By Robert Christgau


Over the years, at least a half-dozen posts on the topic of the music of Leonard Cohen in McCabe & Mrs. Miller have appeared at Cohencentric and its predecessors.1 Even if you’ve read all the reviews referenced in those entries, there is still more to learn from Stranger Songs: The Music of Leonard Cohen in McCabe & Mrs. Miller by Robert Christgau (Criterion: Oct 5, 2016). The excerpts below indicate Christgau’s grasp of detail and his nuanced, articulate observations.

Before Altman even tried to negotiate permissions, he laid Cohen’s songs over his footage, and the mesh amazed him. “I think the reason they worked was because those lyrics were etched in my subconscious, so when I shot the scenes I fitted them to the songs, as if they were written for them. I put in about ten of them at first—of course, we way overdid it—and then we ended up with the three songs that were finally used, and I thought they were just wonderful.”

The film version of “The Stranger Song” differs from the one Altman had played to death on successive copies of the Canadian singer-songwriter’s late-1967 debut album Songs of Leonard Cohen—produced, as it happens, by another John Simon (rather too schlockily, Cohen always thought). After starting off with the first three verses of the album version, the soundtrack interpolates a long, elegiac, Spanish-tinged guitar solo—amplified acoustic, I think—by David Lindley, for forty years now a go-to multi-instrumentalist but at the time merely a member of the California band Kaleidoscope, who were handpicked by Cohen to play behind him on the record only to be cut off at the pass by Simon the producer. Then the album version returns for two verses, after which it doubles back to the capper of the second verse, with the final three verses saved for a later scene. Thus the mood-setter ends: “That is curling up like smoke above his shoulder/It is curling just like smoke above his shoulder/He was just some Joseph looking for a manger/He was just some Joseph looking for a manger.”

The entire piece can be read at

Stranger Songs: The Music of Leonard Cohen in McCabe & Mrs. Miller

Also see

View Videos: Leonard Cohen’s Music in McCabe & Mrs. Miller

All posts about Leonard Cohen’s music in McCabe & Mrs. Miller can be found at 


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Video: Hunt for the Wilderpeople Features Leonard Cohen Performance Of “The Partisan”


The role of Leonard Cohen’s rendition of “The Partisan” in the positively-reviewed Hunt for the Wilderpeople is described in this excerpt from Deep Focus: Hunt for the Wilderpeople by Michael Sragow (Film Comment: June 23, 2016):

We know we’re in good hands from the opening moments, when the New Zealand greenery undulates across the screen while an otherworldly choral chant fills the soundtrack. Even Child Welfare’s Paula seems to tap her pen in counterpoint to the music. The whole movie has an eccentric rhythm because this director is confident enough to let scenes sit and breathe before accelerating his narrative with peppy deadpan montages. In one charged sequence, timed to Leonard Cohen’s “Song of the French Partisan,” Waititi unfolds the action in the cinematic equivalent of a mural. Via some optical and/or digital wizardry, the camera doesn’t stop moving from left to right as we see Hec, Ricky, and Tupac disappear into the snowy forest while bounty hunters, cops, and guardsmen trail them and Paula huffs and scowls eloquently, at different times and without a cut. It’s startling when the paths of heavily armed lawmen and Paula intersect. It’s as if time and space have merged kinetically. [bolding mine]


Note: Most of this was previously posted on this site in June. At that time, however, the film clip was not available.

Leonard Cohen, Humphrey Bogart, Margaret Atwood, Others Play Roles In YesNo Film


YesNo & Leonard Cohen

While he was recovering from his back injury and preparing for the consequently deferred July start of the 2010 Tour, Leonard Cohen signed on as a voice actor, along with Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Atwood,  and others,  in YesNo, a seven-minute English-language short based on the book of poetry by Dennis Lee.

These excerpts from BDJ Films describe the video:

YESNO is a playful view of a planet on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Humphrey Bogart meets Werner Herzog in the heart of darkness. A conjurer shuffles bison, emu and orca in a game of extinction. Leonard Cohen voices a last tango over a flood of images that mix live action and animation, poetry and music, calligraphy and DNA …

Based on the 2006 book Yesno, by eminent Canadian poet Dennis Lee, this seven-minute film takes an new approach to transforming poetry into cinema. Dennis Lee’s words are voiced by a pantheon of Canadian poets, including Lenard Cohen, Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Atwood, D’bi Young, Karen Solie, and Lee himself. Jiving between hope and despair, and between dark comedy and tender pathos, an apocalyptic suite takes us from the folds of the cerebral cortex to the jungles of Fitzcarraldo and The African Queen. Sleight-of-hand by conjurer DAVID BEN forms the connective tissue. The original score/soundscape comes from award-winning composer Owen Belton, who has created music for the National Ballet of Canada (Emergence). The director of photography is Nicholas De Pencier (Act of God). The animation director is Nick Fox-Gieg, who won the award for best animated short (The Orange) at the 2010 SXSW film festival. Yesno was produced, directed and edited by Brian D. Johnson, veteran film critic at Maclean’s magazine.

Video: YesNo

The video is cued to begin at the point Leonard Cohen takes the role of narrator. Video by


Credit Due Department:  Thanks go to Jo Meul, whose reminder about this film prompted its reposting.

Note: Originally posted Aug 22, 2012 at, a predecessor of