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Music

George Santos covered ‘Hallelujah’ — it’s been through worse

The congressman’s take on the Leonard Cohen standard is on the karaoke app Smule

Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is one of the most abused songs of all time. 

Its essential meaning has been twisted to make Christmas carols and Easter hymns. Bono had his way with it in a cover even he regrets. So, when Rolling Stone broke the news that Congressman George Santos, a serial liar whose mountain of mistruths include having Holocaust survivor grandparents, had a rendition out there, I wasn’t all that worried.

Santos recorded his cover eight years ago on the karaoke app Smule, under the username “georgedevolder,” one of several aliases (or maybe his actual birth name — it’s hard to keep up). 

Frankly, it’s bad.

To begin with, the Santos cut has a lot of dead air, with the piano track from the Rufus Wainwright version vamping for long segments before Santos leaps in with an impassioned kind of growl on the second verse. 

The gaps are easy to explain — Smule allows people to “collab” on duets and fill in the rest. (Since the Rolling Stone article, someone named “GeorgesGrammy,” whose avatar is Santos’ drag persona photoshopped onto Kacey Musgraves, took him up on his offer.)

I will give it to Santos, he really did leave me wanting more, even if he bungled a lyric, saying “remember when I moved you in,” instead of “moved in you,” thus transforming the song’s most sensual lyric into what your friend guilts you with when they need a favor.

All told, there is an admirable confidence in Santos’ delivery. He may not have the best voice, but that’s not about to stop him from having a good time. Just like how not having most of the credentials on his CV wasn’t about to stop him from getting a House seat.

In his own words, with which he captioned the song, “Come have fun guys it’s all about having fun!!!” 

Apparently not everyone’s a fan of fun. As one user commented on Santos’ Smule, “This ruined hallelujah.” 

Respectfully, I think the song, like our Congress, will survive him.

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