Monday, June 1, 2015

The "Hallelujah" BOTB: Rufus Wainwright vs. k.d. Lange


Good grief, I forgot that today was the first of the month and it was time for Stephen T. McCarthy's Battle of the Bands! (Don't forget to check out my other post for Michael D'Agostino's Question of the Month today, too. He's made a nice tab for it at the top of the page.)

Without further adieu, I give you one of my favorite songs, Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." I've learned my lesson about about using the original artist!! In this case, Leonard doesn't give my favorite version anyhow - but here it is:


I like my BOTB like I like my bacon: CANADIAN

CHALLENGER #1:  RUFUS WAINWRIGHT
Canadian-American song meister, Rufus Wainwright, can you do better?

The first challenger comes from a notable musical heritage. He's the son of one of my snarky favorites, Loudon Wainwright III, and Canadian songstress Kate McGarrigle. There's a little bit of both of them in Rufus - and more. Rufus showed his musical chops at a very young age with a talent for piano and song. His debut album was Rufus Wainwright (1998).



CHALLENGER #2:  k.d. LANGE
I don't know why k.d. Lange doesn't capitalize the initials of her first and middle name...let's just say it's not because she needs to be humble. This Canadian small town girl is a singer/songwriter that also started her musical journey as a youngster, just like Rufus.  Her first break into American music was a duet with Roy Orbison - not too shabby. My favorite song of k.d. was "Constant Cravings," but you're here to hear "Hallelujah."  k.d., could you show us how you do it? 




Wait! You're not done till you vote in these epic battles! 

Check back for results on the 7th and 21st of the month. Let the games begin (of course, I alphabetized it). If I missed a new participant, I'll add you as we go along.

ALEX CAVANAUGH (when BOTB falls on a Mon., Wed., or Fri.)

55 comments:

  1. This is one of those songs that I really liked until it seemed like it got performed to death. I've heard it so much that I'm not thrilled to hear it any more. But it's still a great song.

    Wainwright does it well but no vote from me. I knew that before I even listened to lang's version.

    k.d.lang is one of my favorite singers period. Ingenue is one of the best albums ever. She did this song on her Hymns of the 49th Parallel album which is an outstanding collection of songs.

    k.d. lang not only gets my vote but I'll give her as many votes as you'll take from me.

    Good Battle but anyone who uses k.d. in the future can just put me down for her.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. k.d. Lang: CHECK! Sorry, Arlee - just one per battle, brother.

      Warning about future Lang offerings: CHECK!

      Delete
  2. I have never heard either of the versions presented here. Not before, and not now. But I can confidently cast my vote for RUFUS WAINWRIGHT.

    How do I know that? Because my friend Arlee Bird was so enthusiastic about K.D. Lange's version. If there's ONE THING I've learned from the BOTB Blogfest it's that 98.98% of the time, my vote is different from Arlee Bird's. And when his vote is THIS enthusiastic... there is a 100.98% likelihood that my vote will be the opposite.

    I will return tomorrow and actually LISTEN to BOTH versions and let you know how my vote authentically, genuinely, honestly goes. (NO ONE will be more surprised than I am if my vote coincides with Lee's!)

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fortunately, I don't fall in the "all in" or "all out" category with you so far (I don't think). I await your vote with baited breath...and coffee...and a dog...and Gonzo...and five cows...

      Delete
  3. Having listened to both versions (and I agree with Arlee Bird - this song has been sung to death. please make it stop!) My vote goes to kd lange. I just felt she put more passion into the performance. Hope to see you at my BOTB taking place at Jingle Jangle Jungle http://www.jinglejanglejungle.net

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. k.d. Lang: CHECK!

      You know I'll be there, girl! :-)

      Delete
  4. Good morning, dear Cherdo!

    It is I/me, s.d. Knight. Hallelujah, it's yet another travel day for me and I won't be back home until late. I am making the BOTB rounds until I run out of time and need to hit the road. Paying customers are always first served and that's why you continue to be my first stop of the day every day for more than a year now.

    This is a wonderful BOTB post. I rather enjoyed Cohen's performance there in your first clip. Of the two official competing entries I need to vote for k.d. Lange because I prefer performances in which the artist takes the material, interprets it in his or her own way and renders it with feeling, passion and power. k.d. does just that. The intensity builds, peaks, subsides and repeats and her delivery is never overwrought, a nicely controlled burn. The audience responded with enthusiasm and so did I. My vote goes to k.d. Lange.

    Thank you, dear friend Cherdo, and have a great week ahead!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. k.d. Lang: CHECK!

      I paired these two up because they both have such a mellow, heartfelt rendition and I hoped that would make for a great match. Some people might this this is overdone, but there's a reason why some songs get repeated: it's because it's a great song.

      I had a moment where I considered pairing songs I hate (Feelings, anyone?).

      The Cohen clip is sweet and I like his delivery - it's so Leonard. You must include the original, right? Ha ha. In my BOTB version - always! There has to be something to compare it to.

      I'm doing double duty, s.d. Knight (I laughed so much at that) with the Question of the Month and BOTB. Better hit it!

      Have a great (warm) day!

      Delete
  5. I'd have to go with Wainwright. Such a smooth voice and I like the traditional sound.
    Yes, I did participate today!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did you like the disclaimer under your name? Ha ha.

      Rufus Wainwright: CHECK!

      Delete
  6. Cherdo, this is one of my favorite songs, too. I am especially fond of Michael Bolton's rendition. Yeah, I know some folks don't care for it, but I really do. After listening to both contenders this morning, it was obvious to me who I liked the best. I give my vote to Rufus Wainwright! I thought his vocal style lent more reverence to the lyrics sealing him as the easy pick. Good show-down!


    Mad World #BOTB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I need to check out Michael Bolton's version, too. There was a time when he was dissed on a regular basis, but I love his voice.

      Rufus Wainwright: CHECK!

      Thanks, Cathy!!

      Delete
  7. These are both really good, but I just like Wainwright's voice better as a preference. Give that man my vote!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rufus Wainwright: CHECK!

      It's such a soothing rendition. Thanks, guys!

      Delete
  8. Greetings from Canada! ☺ Nice to see this all-Canadian BOTB.
    No contest for me. K.D.s version has always touched me deeply and still does. She's such an amazing singer! Not that Rufus isn't good - his rendition just doesn't resonate. K.D. Lang gets my vote.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, I've got some Canadians in my background. :-) Gotta show the love.

      Glad you like the match up - they're both great and I like them both.

      k.d. Lang: CHECK!

      Delete
  9. Oh Cherdo - those original artist have busted me a time or two. Ha!

    k.d is cool but I really like Rufus. My vote goes to him. Yep, I likes Canadian bacon too, (smile).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rufus Wainwright: CHECK!

      This is a better pairing that The Carpenters and Luther Vandross, ha ha (a shut out!!).

      Thanks, Dixie.

      Delete
  10. I have this song on my ipod performed by Justin Timberlake and Charlie Sexton. They did it live for the Hope for Haiti fundraiser years ago. That's my favorite version of the song.
    HOWEVER, If I can vote I would totally go with k.d. Lang!! I love her. Her song Crying with Roy Orbison is just amazing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. k.d. Lang: CHECK! I think it would be hard to match ole' Roy, but she does it!

      I've seen the Timberlake/Sexton version and it is fantastic!!

      Delete
  11. Rufus is definitely good but I think k.d.'s is superior. Her voice is so powerful. And I love the song. My vote is for k.d. I need to get some of her music, I forgot I like her so much!
    Michele at Angels Bark

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We don't see enough of her lately, but there's not enough Rufus, either. Balanced!

      k.d. Lang: CHECK!

      Delete
  12. I really love this song! Both versions are really nice, but k.d. Lang's version is so much better in my opinion!

    ReplyDelete
  13. First, I want to tell you that many moons ago I had a battle on my page featuring this song. Cohen vs. Jeff Buckley. (Buckley is far and away my favorite cover of this song, though I did hear a quartet of fellas sing it that was amazing.) http://yourdailydose-robin.blogspot.com/2014/01/battle-of-bands-hallelujah.html

    So, even though it looks like I'm saying this battle has been "done," it definitely has not. You brought two completely different contenders to the table. I made the mistake of watching the videos. The way Rufus throws his head around really annoyed me. Plus, I didn't "feel" the song with him. K.D. sings this song in a way that I felt it, so she gets my vote.

    Thank you for proving that there is so much diversity within BoTB that we can use the same song in a battle and still have completely different battles!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha ha ha...I sometimes get annoyed by the "physical" aspects of singers putting their all into a song. If it's repetitive, it's worse - so I get ya.

      I've made a point of not reviewing the older battles because I don't want to be swayed, but I confess that I'd be disappointed if I did an exact match up - so, cool beans!

      k.d. Lang: CHECK! Thanks, Robin!

      Delete
  14. I vote for k.d. because she doesn't capitalize her initials and that reminds me of e.e. cummings. I also loved it when she sang Hallelujah at the Vancouver Olympics. I prefer her voice, too. I don't like the way Rufus closes his eyes and sways back and forth and back and forth while he plays the piano. I can't play the piano with my eyes closed. I think k.d.'s feet are bare. Singing without shoes is worth a vote.

    Love,
    Janie

    Love,
    Janie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Robin doesn't like Rufus' physicality, either. You're not alone.

      Personally, I wouldn't walk out on that stage without shoes. You never know who has been there.

      k.d. Lang: CHECK! Thanks, Janie!

      Delete
    2. But she's k.d. They probably sanitize the floor just for her.

      Delete
    3. Does Rufus think he's Stevie Wonder? 'Cause I'm tellin' you, He's not.

      Delete
  15. DOC CHERDO ~
    I made it a point to come here first this morning, because I was very curious to see whether or not my prediction from last night would hold up.

    I'd heard the Cohen original before but never these two competing covers - Wainwright and Lange.

    Secretly, I was really hoping I would wind up voting for Lange because I believe my buddy Arlee Bird truly does think that I waste my BOTB votes in a deliberate attempt to counteract his own votes. That's just not the least bit true, but we vote differently so often that it probably appears to be purposeful at times.

    This was a tough Battle for me to decide on. So much so, that I listened to BOTH versions all the way through twice each.

    It's kind of a strange song. Melodically, I like it quite a bit, but the lyrics I can't really wrap my mind around. We seem to have Biblical references in there, such as David playing the harp for King Saul when an evil spirit comes upon him. And David seeing Bathsheba bathing on the roof in the night (presumably bathing in the water, too, not just in the night). And then somehow Samson seems to make an entrance and there's the reference to a disastrous haircut. And then the rest of it pretty much leaves me scratching my head. What's this song actually saying?

    Nice melody, peculiar words.

    I thought BOTH of these covers were well performed and I had trouble deciding on one over the other. In the end though, I think I gotta vote Wainwright because his more subdued vocal and minimalist instrumentation (simple piano playing) seemed to be more in line with what appears to be a not-so-celebratory lyrical mood.

    Lange sang with plenty of passion, but I've never cared much for her (to my ears) too-husky voice. Karen Carpenter's voice is about as husky as I want to hear coming from a female vocalist - unless it's Mahalia Jackson, in which her depth and power really matches the material, the Spiritual subject matter.

    Very good match-up though Cherdo. This one was no slam-dunk for me, and required repeated listenings in order to sort out WHY I slightly preferred one over the other.

    NOTE TO LEE: Sorry, my friend! I really DID want to vote your way this time but - alas - my honest ears wouldn't permit it. Maybe next time, Bro. After all, we do hear alike about 1.02% of the time. :-)

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As for the lyrics, I always thought the singer was lamenting the fact that he couldn't connect to the person he loved, like maybe there was a "secret chord" that he could play (like David) that would resonate with her. Then in the stanza that speaks about David and Samson, he is acknowledging the hold she has on him and referring to those historical stories about strong men brought down.

      But then again...I could be wrong. It's happened, you know.

      Rufus Wainwright: CHECK!!

      Delete
  16. I'm voting for k.d. I've never been too much of a fan, but prefer her over Rufus.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Leonard Cohen gets my vote and always will. Love his intimate voice and his poetic lyrics. I've been a Cohen fan since college days, and The Famous Blue Raincoat was a fave since I first heard it. . . I know KD Lang, too, and saw her in her more cowboy-ish days. She has a lovely voice, and can sing Patsy Cline better than anyone I've heard. The other competitor is new to me, and doesn't impress me too much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh darn, that's what I get for skim reading, Leonard isn't voteable. Then I'll give my vote to K.D. Lang, although I'm not that fond of this version. I like Canadian bacon too, and hail from Vancouver!

      Delete
  18. I didn't care for Rufus's version, even if he is part Southern. k. d. lang is fantastic here. She gets the vote.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I liked Wainwrights version better, a smoother voice. And Canadian Bacon is an American invention, just so you know lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rufus Wainwright: CHECK!!

      Thanks, Pat!

      Delete
    2. (Of course, American's named it Canadian bacon...Canadians would have just called it "bacon" - right?)

      Delete
  20. As a big fan of the Guess Who and Lighthouse, I say- Canuck rock is best!!!!!!!!

    My vote is going to sound contradictory. kd knocks it out with the better vocals. But Rufus stuck with me, so his is the vote.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rufus Wainwright: CHECK!!

      Guess Who was THE BOMB, Chris! Thanks!

      Delete
  21. I love both but gotta go with Rufus. Either way, Canada wins. I wonder if Rush has ever covered "Hallelujah."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rufus Wainwright: CHECK!! Thank you, Squid!

      I don't know if RUSH ever played it...they'd be the only one who didn't.

      Delete
  22. Well I started playing the first video and my wife, Claudia, says, after about 5 seconds, 'Oh that's Leonard Cohen and Hallelujah'. I then played Rufus. She thought he was good. Then played k.d. and after about 5 seconds said, 'Oh, k.d. Lange, I really like her'. Claudia votes for k.d.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What Claudia wants, Claudia gets:

      k.d. Lang: CHECK!!

      Thanks, Mike and Claudia!

      Delete
  23. I like k.d.lang in general, but I think a voice really needs to match the song in order to be spine-tingling perfection...

    Leonard Cohen's version is gritty and growly, and I probably would have voted for it had it been in the running.

    Rufus Wainwright: Smooth, controlled, easy... laid back.

    k.d. lang: Technically almost perfect, dipping and soaring with every word packed with meaning... passionate.

    This song demands passion and meaning to elicit the feelings of awe and reverence it was meant to carry... my vote is for lang's version.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. k.d. Lang: CHECK!!

      I thought you were leaning towards Rufus for a minute there...thanks, Jacqueline!

      Delete
  24. Oh my from this Canuck-k.d. Lang gets my vote hands down. She just uses her voice like a beautiful musical instrument. It is unbelievable how much feeling she put in this song. She wins for me. Canada Rules!:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. k.d. Lang: CHECK!!

      And Canada does rule, ha ha. There's nothing about Canada that I don't like.

      Delete
  25. Yes, this song has been recorded by many and has recently seen too much exposure. But I remember how it tore into my soul like a whirlwind the first time I heard it. And when I heard k.d.'s version, I wept as I did on that first hearing.

    My vote goes resoundingly to k.d.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. k.d. Lang: CHECK!!

      (You're a romantic at heart, eh? I'm in that zone, too.)

      Delete
  26. k.d. Lange is one of the most awesome singers ever to pick up a microphone. Pure talent, with heart and energy. Rufus was very good, and loved his piano playing, but his voice does not have the same passion as k.d. I will vote for k.d., but I think Rufus would do well in any other battle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. k.d. Lang: CHECK!!

      Thanks, Dolorah!

      Delete

Thanks for your personal yada, yada, yada,
Love, Cherdo