Leonard Cohen’s (Wikipedia iTunes) song Hallelujah was unimportant when first released, but over time, it has almost certainly become his most famous song–only because so many talented artists have performed it.
A very obscure artist, Puddles the Clown of Puddles Pity Party (Wikipedia iTunes), has a strange act, but his voice is incredible. Below, he beautifully performs Cohen’s song. His voice is so amazing that it overcomes the sub-par musical accompaniment.
Jeff Buckley (Wikipedia iTunes) almost certainly caused Cohen’s unknown song to become as well-known as it now is. If Buckley had not died so young, I am confident that his influence on other musicians would be have been even greater than it currently is. (Buy Hallelujah performed by Jeff Buckley on iTunes.)
The song was on the Shrek soundtrack and in the movie, which caused many people to hear it for the first time. Rufus Wainwright’s (Wikipedia iTunes) performance is probably the most well known.
Because of Buckley’s influence and Shrek’s popularity, many other artists have covered Hallelujah. For a more detailed story, see How Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ Became Everybody’s ‘Hallelujah’ by Ashley Fetters at The Atlantic.
Regina Spektor (Wikipedia iTunes) is one of my favorite singers, and the live version below is a fantastic performance. (Download the audio for free at.)
I have loved Hallelujah for years, but recently a young woman performed the song on America’s Got Talent, and I can empathize with her personal story: the reaction from the judges and the crowd were encouraging to me.