Monday, December 22, 2008

Number 1s of 2008: 21 December

To the surprise of precisely nobody, the Christmas number one is Alexandra Burke, "Hallelujah". (There doesn't seem to be an embeddable official version, even with adverts, so enjoy the YouTube link.)

This has sparked something of an unlikely feud; existing fans of the song aren't desperately pleased by having "Hallelujah" recast as an X-Factor winner's song, complete with inspirational key change. Partly because of their campaign, but mostly because it's just a very good song, people have been downloading the earlier versions as album tracks - and under UK chart rules, those count as singles sales.

As a result, the Christmas number 2 is Jeff Buckley's version of the same song, leaping 28 places from last week. And even the Leonard Cohen original has charted at number 36. It's the first time either of them has ever made the UK singles chart, although that's more because they didn't release singles. It's not unprecedented for three versions of the same song to chart simultaneously - it happened all the time in the 1950s - but it's not something we've seen in recent years.

All this is terribly good news for Cohen, who sued his ex-manager in 2006 claiming that she had stolen his multi-million dollar pension fund, leaving him with only $150,000. He won that action (by default), but reportedly never managed to recover the money from her. Consequently, he was back on the road earlier this year, at the age of 74, so a nice hefty royalty cheque ought to be very welcome.

Needless to say, Burke can expect to be number one into the new year - and then we won't hear from her again until her album is released to coincide with the 2009 season of X-Factor.

And if you can't stand her version... well, look on the bright side. It could have been Eoghan Quigg.