The brilliant singer and songwriter Leonard Cohen's song "Hallelujah" is one of the most covered songs in music history. The brilliant singer and songwriter Leonard Cohen's song "Hallelujah" is one of the most covered songs in music history. The brilliant singer and songwriter Leonard Cohen's song "Hallelujah" is one of the most covered songs in music history. (Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Leonard Cohen tribute: Our favorite covers of ‘Hallelujah'

The musician is gone, but his masterpiece will live on forever.

Leonard Cohen, the iconic Canadian singer, songwriter and poet, passed away Thursday night at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 82.

Though his 50-year career churned out a number of hits, his most celebrated song is the haunting "Hallelujah." It took him three years to write, and was originally turned down by his music label because it wasn't "commercial enough." Ultimately, however, he got the last laugh. In the intervening years it has become one of the most popular songs in the history of music, covered by countless musicians and even making it to outer space. A new book was devoted entirely to the song's influence.

At the bottom is one of Cohen's best known performances of "Hallelujah," in 2009 in Israel, a country he visited often through the years. But before that, we list a handful of the best covers of his celestial tune.

Beirut

Zach Condon, the mind behind American indie rock band Beirut, usually plays with a full band, but for this cover dispenses with all but his ukelele, giving a fresh take on a song often accompanied by piano or guitar.


K.D. Lang

Lang's version was received with such awe and respect that she was asked to perform it at the opening ceremony of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.


Justin Timberlake

A pop star by day, Timberlake's cover could easily be dismissed. But don't; it is nothing to be chafed at.


Rufus Wainwright (and company)

Wainwright, who was close to Cohen and his family, did his own soulful cover of the song several years ago. This version takes it to another level.


Pentatonix

The American a capella group's version of "Hallelujah" is a decidedly updated take on the song. Since this video was released three weeks ago it has garnered nearly 40 million views.


John Cale

Cale, a founding member of seminal rock band The Velvet Underground, has remained popular as a solo act, much of that popularity is thanks to his "Hallelujah" cover.


Jeff Buckley

Buckley's song has become the gold standard, not just of this song but of covers in general. Nearly 20 years after his death it still continues to land at the top of the charts every so often.


Leonard Cohen

Cohen's concerts in Israel were the stuff of legend. During one such performance, in 1972, he was so moved by the crowd's response to his songs that he had to leave the stage. This performance, his first in the country in decades (he had been on a tour hiatus for many years) sold out in less than 24 hours.

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Leonard Cohen tribute: Our favorite covers of ‘Hallelujah'
We're celebrating the life of legendary Leonard Cohen with the best covers of his most celebrated song "Hallelujah."