Leonard Cohen’s haunting song “Hallelujah” has been covered by many artists – most notably Jeff Buckley – and manages to maintain its beauty with each new arrangement.
While the song uses a lot of biblical imagery, it’s actually a song about love gone wrong.
The latest version of the song – which has been recorded by over 100 artists! – is going viral because of its unique orchestral arrangement and its angelic teenage vocalist.
This version was created by a group called Cinematic Pop, who describe themselves as a “classical crossover phenomenon.”
“We take the sweeping, emotionally-charged classical music you might hear in a film-score and combine it with your favorite rock and pop songs.”
The arrangement is the work of Rob Gardner and the vocals are by 16-year-old McKenna Breinholt (who is now 17) of Gilbert, Arizona. She’s been singing with the group since she was just 15.
The group auditioned for the 11th season of America’s Got Talent and moved on to the next round, but was forced to withdraw from the competition because of a scheduling conflict.
Nevertheless, the video of Breinholt singing the song with a full orchestra and choir has been viewed over 6 MILLION times on YouTube.
While fans of the original might be irked by changes to the arrangement, the group does its best to pay homage to the original, even including one of the verses that’s normally left out of covers.
Fun fact: Cohen is a noted perfectionist and originally wrote a whopping 80 draft verses for the song before he settled on the final 15!
What is clear is that the songs beautiful lyrics and melody are truly augmented by the presence of the orchestra and 60-person choir. Altogether, there were 110 musicians on stage.
The recording took place which was filmed live in 2015 at the Mesa Arts Center in Mesa, Arizona where the group performed 10 songs in total, with a few different lead singers.
Breinholt also performed U2’s One and Nirvana’s 1991 hit Smells Like Teen Spirit, each with their own unique arrangement.
Gardner, the group’s founder said that the classical take on pop songs was in part designed to introduce new audiences to orchestral sound and get them into traditional concert venues. He told the Daily Mail:
“For many years, classical music concert attendance has been in decline. By fusing iconic pop songs with the best elements of classical cinematic film score composition, we can bring new audiences to classical concert halls.”
The group wants listeners to recognize the songs but also appreciate their fresh new take:
“When you hear our versions, we want you to recall and connect with the originals, but also feel like you are hearing them with fresh ears for the first time.”
As for Breinholt, her career looks bright and she has many years ahead of her. While her Internet stardom was a great start and introduced her to millions of new fans, she’s even more excited about the new music she’ll be performing soon.
Breinholt is still performing with Cinematic Pop and the singer, songwriter, and guitarist is headed back to the venue that made her famous in June to perform with other soloists Spencer Jones and Cosette Smith as well as the orchestra and an even bigger 100-voice choir.
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