Following the Trump campaign’s use of a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” during the fireworks portion of the Republican National Convention on Thursday night, Cohen’s Estate issued a statement criticizing the unauthorized use of the classic often covered. “We are exploring our legal options,” the field warned on Friday.
“We are surprised and dismayed that the RNC proceeds knowing that the Cohen Estate had specifically declined the request for use of the RNC, and their rather brazen attempt to politicize and so blatantly exploit ‘Hallelujah’, the one of the most important songs in the Cohen Songbook, ”said Michelle L. Rice, legal representative for the Cohen Estate.
“If the RNC had requested another song, ‘You Want it Darker,’ for which Leonard won a posthumous Grammy in 2017, we might have considered approving that song.”
I have the impression that Leonard Cohen would not have signed this photo pic.twitter.com/936vfAdT60
– molly conger (@socialistdogmom) 28 août 2020
During the fireworks display that closed the convention, Tori Kelly’s performance of “Hallelujah” – which the singer recorded for the soundtrack of the 2016 animated film Sing – performed on the RNC show alongside patriotic songs like “She’s a Grand Old Flag” and “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood.
Kelly wrote in a since-deleted tweet (via Variety), “Seeing messages on my version of Alleluia… all I know is that neither I nor my team received a request.
Likewise, Brian J. Monaco, president of Sony / ATV Music Publishing and director of global marketing, said in a statement: “On the eve of the convention final, representatives of the Republican National Committee have contacted us to obtain the permission for a Leonard live show. Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. We refused their request. ”
The unauthorized use of “Hallelujah” is just the last dust between the Trump campaign and nearly every artist the president has played music with during the election campaign; Tom Petty’s estate, the Rolling Stones and Neil Young are just a few of those who have denounced – and threatened with legal action – Trump for his rally soundtracks.
An RNC representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.