The Hallelujah Invasion
Most Leonard Cohen fans have – mercifully – been desensitized to the multiple variations of “Hallelujah” sung by talent show contestants,1 professional entertainers,2 and high school choirs, the many TV shows and movies that plug in “Hallelujah” to signal a point of high drama, spiritual awakening, birth, death, or sex,3 and even the bowdlerizations of that song.4
In Germany, however, the apparently irresistible crusade to saturate all aspects of culture by “Hallelujah” has achieved its most impressive victory thus far. For the explanation, I defer to the expertise of Cora Buhlert, whose January 21, 2011 post at her eponymous blog bears the auspicious title, “Three Times Hallelujah and Your Mama.” Excerpts follow:
Today, I chanced to hear the song “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen three times in a single day. Which is quite unusual, because even though there are umpteen thousand cover versions, it isn’t played all that often.
The first time was on the car radio while driving to the supermarket. The second time was on TV, used as background music for the crime drama Countdown
… the third rendition I heard today was actually the weirdest one. I was walking across the schoolyard during the lunch break. On the playground, a couple of kids are swinging on some kind of carousel like contraption. I cast a glance at them to check if they’re not killing each other or making any other mischief. But before I continue my way into the administration wing, I hear something strange:
The kids are singing. And the song sounds familiar. I venture closer and notice that the song is Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. Why are kids singing “Hallelujah”, I wonder? After all, the song is probably older than their parents. Did they learn it in confirmation class or what?
By now I am close enough that I can make out the words and suddenly I realize that the kids are not singing Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at all, but a gag song called “Deine Mutter” (Your mama), which consists basically of a bunch of not very funny Yo Mama jokes set to the tune of “Hallelujah”. I’d actually heard part of the song on a student’s mobile before, but hadn’t made the “Hallelujah” connection, probably because I was busy telling the student to switch off the music and put the phone away, otherwise I’d confiscate it.
There is more, and, given the quality of the writing as well as the significance of the content, I urge viewers to read the entire piece at Three Times Hallelujah and Your Mama, but the catastrophic implications are clear enough.
There is, of course, a YouTube video of the song although, oddly enough, it is in German.
Deine Mutter (Halleluja) – Song Lyrics
Video from DirkM291070
Credit Due Department: Adrian du Plessis, personable manager for Allison Crowe, alerted me to this post and the video as well as suggesting the term, “Cultural Ubiquity.”
- See, among others, It’s Like, You Know, Hallelujah, Totally and Sign That The Apocalypse Is Upon Us – Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” Attributed To Alexandra Burke [↩]
- See, among others, Bob Dylan Covers Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, Allison Crowe’s Cover Of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” Opens Celebration Of Great Exhibition, KD Lang Sings Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” At Opening Of 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Another Cover Of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, But It’s OK – It’s A Canadian Thing [↩]
- See Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah As Watchmen Sex Scene Soundtrack – Debate Continues [↩]
- See Have Yourself A Merry, Liturgically Correct Hallelujah [↩]