51 Weeks: 51 Songs From The Past: Week 47: Pentatonix – Hallelujah

Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to Donna Connolly from Retirement Reflections who, this week, is in charge of Hugh’s music time machine.

Thank you to Hugh for giving me the distinct privilege of flying his Music Time Machine. After revving up the engine, I initially headed out with gusto to a time far, far away. Being a novice pilot, I tragically lost control and we’ve crashed straight into 2016!

51 weeks 51 songs from the past poster

Yet all is not lost. Here, I ‘ve serendipitously found Pentatonix, the (then) five-member a cappella group who had just released their version of Leonard Cohen’s, ‘Hallelujah’ for their album, ‘A Pentatonix Christmas’.

I know, I know. Hallelujah has been covered a gazillion times before (Jeff Buckley, k.d. Lang, Rufus Wainwright, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Brandi Carlile, Bono, Justin Timberlake/Matt Morris…to name only a few). In addition, this song has been made popular by television (think ‘The O.C.’) and film (most notably, ‘Shrek’). If you have never seen the Pentatonix’s video version, it’s not to be missed. And if you have, I’m sure that you’ll want to experience it again. Go ahead, take a peek while I attempt to put Hugh’s music time machine back together…before he notices the damages!

Incredible, right?

The original three Pentatonix members, Kirstie Maldonado, Mitch Grassi and Scott Hoying, were schoolmates together in Arlington, Texas. They were later joined by Avi Kaplan and Kevin Olusola. Together they won the third season of NBC’s ‘The Sing-Off’.

After Sony’s Epic Records quickly dropped the group, Pentatonix formed their own YouTube channel, distributing their music through Madison Gate Records (a label owned by Sony Pictures). Their popularity soared, and they soon reached over thirteen million subscribers. In May 2017, Avi Kaplan left the group due to the demanding touring schedule.

And since Hugh always likes to include a bit of the chart history for the song that he is covering, here’s the scoop. Leonard Cohen first released Hallelujah on his 1984 album, ‘Various Positions.’ Incredibly, the album never reached the charts. Cohen’s version of ‘Hallelujah’ spent less than a week on a Billboard survey (reaching Number 7 of ‘Top Singles Sales’), until his death in November 2016. Then, sales of the original song and its many covers soared.

Timing is everything. ‘A Pentatonix Christmas’, released less than three weeks prior to Cohen’s death, hit double platinum by February 2016, becoming the highest charting holiday album by a group since 1962.

With their originality, stunning photography, and voices that meld together to bring shivers up your spine, the Pentatonix give honor to Cohen’s message that “many kinds of Hallelujahs exist, and the perfect and broken hallelujahs have equal value.”

Do you have a cherished version of Hallelujah? If so, please share a link to it in the comments.

Want to join Hugh in building up your 51 favourite songs from the past? There’s not much time left, but you can still leave a link in the comments section and showcase your next song. I look forward to meeting you there!


Donna lived in Beijing, China for fourteen years (her excuse for not always knowing Hugh’s featured songs)! Leaving international life behind, she and her husband retired to Vancouver Island, Canada, in June 2015. To document this transition, Donna initiated ‘Retirement Reflections’. Her favorite part of blogging is the interaction with others. You can connect with Donna in the comment section below, or via the following social media sites. She would love to hear from you.

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Blogger, Writer (and time machine driver) Donna Connolly

My thanks to Donna for taking the controls of my music time machine this week. I’ll be back behind the controls next week when we’ll be stopping off in the year 2000.

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