St. Vincent Says “Hallelujah” Covers Are “The Worst Thing in the World”

St. Vincent is tired of singers covering Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” while stripping away its original meaning. In a recent interview with BBC Radio, she called such covers “the worst thing in the world.”

Speaking to host Jo Whiley, the artist born Annie Clark praised “Hallelujah” as an “absolute masterpiece” and referenced how it took Cohen “many years to write” the song.

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“[It’s] about the complication that it is to be alive — and the agony and the ecstasy and everything and all of the inherent conflict therein,” she continued, before blasting awful covers of “Hallelujah” on televised singing competitions.


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“Then you know how for a period of time it became a song that people would, like, cover on American Idol? People would sing it on American Idol and just be like [imitates vocal fry tone], ‘Haaalelujah! Halleluuuujah!’ And it’s just the worst thing in the world. Like, it’s the worst thing in the world.”

Watch St. Vincent talk about terrible “Hallelujah” covers below.

First recorded by Cohen for his 1984 album, Various Positions, “Hallelujah” has been covered hundreds of times and appeared in movie and TV soundtracks before becoming a staple of televised talent contests.

The first cover to boost its popularity was John Cale’s 1991 recording for a tribute album, which reached the mainstream after being featured in 2001’s Shrek.

Cale’s version also inspired perhaps the most acclaimed cover of “Hallelujah,” recorded by Jeff Buckley for his 1994 album, Grace.

While Clark clearly wasn’t talking about Cale and Buckley’s versions of “Hallelujah,” it is worth noting that Buckley’s cover was propelled to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Digital Songs chart in 2008 after it was performed by Jason Castro on you guessed it… American Idol.


St. Vincent is currently promoting her upcoming album, All Born Screaming, which drops on April 26th. It will be supported by a North American tour, and you can get tickets here.

Editor’s Note: Revisit our list of 30 great Leonard Cohen covers that aren’t “Hallelujah”.


“That is the worst thing in the world” Safe to say St Vincent isn’t a fan of people covering Hallelujah 😂🫣 Listen to St Vincent’s chat with Jo Whiley on BBC Sounds 🎧 #stvincent #hallelujah #hallelujahcover #jowhiley

♬ original sound – bbcradio2