“Hallelujah,” on the other hand, had probably the strangest ascent of any song in the brackets. It was included on Buckley’s 1994 album Grace, but received little attention until after his death in 1997. At that point, it took on a strange second life, with Buckley’s version being frequently used (maybe overused) in movies and TV: as someone pointed out in the comments on our first-round coverage of "Hallelujah," a Rufus Wainwright version showed up, bizarrely, in Shrek.
The song, originally written by Leonard Cohen, has also been extensively covered by other acts, most of which seem to have been inspired by Buckley’s version. Buckley’s “Hallelujah” finally charted in 2008, courtesy of a wave of popularity stirred up by a cover version sung by an American Idol contestant. The song is apparently played at 2am every Saturday morning on the Israeli Defense Force’s radio station. Plus, there’s an entire book about it. At this point, it’s a bit of a strange artifact.
History aside, this is a tough match-up. “Disarm” is a sometimes disturbing song purportedly about lead singer Billy Corgan’s troubled childhood (the song was actually banned by the BBC and received limited airplay in Britain due to lyrics about child abuse). The instrumentation is grand and the lyrics are howling. “Hallelujah,” on the other hand, is a stripped down song, just a guitar and a voice singing about a lost love that’s taken on Biblical proportions. One of the interesting things about March Sadness has been exploring the merits of songs about personal sadness vs songs taking a broader, more philosophical view of melancholy; in this case it feels weird to pit a crappy childhood against a broken heart. But perhaps it’s an opportunity to ponder whether grand instrumentation stirs the sadness in your soul more than simple guitar playing.
For more discussion of these songs, you may want to read our previous coverage of "Disarm" and of "Hallelujah."
(10) Smashing Pumpkins, "Disarm"
(2) Jeff Buckley, "Hallelujah"
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#marchsadness 2d rd tip-off: (10) @SmashingPumpkin vs (2) @JeffBuckley: https://t.co/nVUThcMyZo; who you got? why?— Ander Monson (@angermonsoon) March 14, 2016