The Republican National Convention and Donald Trump used Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” twice on the ceremony’s final night. Leonard Cohen’s estate and Sony have since condemned the usage of the song. A prerecorded Tori Kelly cover appeared first, while the second was a live version by opera singer Christopher Macchio sung from The White House.
Michelle L. Rice, estate legal representative, claimed the RNC used the song despite his estate declining their request. In a statement, she said, “We are surprised and dismayed that the RNC would proceed knowing that the Cohen Estate had specifically declined the RNC’s use request, and their rather brazen attempt to politicize and exploit in such an egregious manner ‘Hallelujah,’ one of the most important songs in the Cohen song catalogue.”
She noted that had the RNC requested the Grammy-winning “You Want It Darker,” it might have been approved.
The claim was reiterated by Brian J. Monaco, President and Global Chief Marketing Officer of Sony/ATV Music Publishing. He said, “On the eve of the finale of the convention, representatives from the Republican National Committee contacted us regarding obtaining permission for a live performance of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah.’ We declined their request.”
Reactions to the song’s use were overwhelmingly negative. A few of them are below.
I’m a Leonard Cohen fan and I’m livid with all of his fans.https://t.co/bstBD255kx
— Jill Wine-Banks (@JillWineBanks) August 28, 2020
Very amusing and fitting the RNC ended with a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah”, a song about a failed relationship, dishonesty, disappointment, and loss… Nothing exemplifies Trump’s presidency more than those things.
(LOL the MAGAs think it’s a religious song)
— Jeff Jones (@YouWontFeelThis) August 28, 2020
Everyone in Montreal, home of Leonard Cohen, is traumatized rn by the use of “Hallelujah” at the RNC.
— Roxanne Khamsi (@rkhamsi) August 28, 2020
Leonard Cohen must be rolling over in his grave given that Trump used his masterpiece “Hallelujah” at his rally in the South Lawn to accept the Republican nomination.
— Steve Coyle (@Coylerspoiler) August 28, 2020
Cohen was born in 1934 in Quebec. Originally a poetry writer, he eventually began writing songs for the likes of James Taylor, Willie Nelson and Ike Collins. He released 15 studio albums and is most known for “Hallelujah,” which was used in Shrek. His most recent album, Thanks for the Dance, was posthumously released in 2019. In 2010, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.