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.
In addition to its use in death scenes in film and TV, the song seems to be audience bait in just about every reality competition show ever. It has even overused within a single work: The O.C. featured it three times, including soundtracking Marissa’s memorable death with Imogen Heap’s cover. Jeff Buckley’s iconic cover seems to be featured the most, but the original Leonard Cohen version still gets a lot of play.
It’s easy to see why “Hallelujah” is so ubiquitous: It’s a stunning song. But let’s hope filmmakers everywhere get the picture and give the track a rest.