In all of his popular singing competition shows, Simon Cowell is known for being a brutally honest judge. And, though he is certainly shrewd, it’s hard to debate the fact that the guy has a real feel for what makes a great singer. That’s why we want you to listen to one of our absolute favorite choices from his American Idol career. We think that this rendition of “Hallelujah” will absolutely move you!
Sadly, American Idol went off the air in 2016, but it certainly left us with 15 seasons of television gold. One of our favorite elements of the singing competition was always “judge’s choice week”—a time when the judges would pick the songs that they wanted to hear the contestants perform.
Back in 2009, a soulful singer named Lee DeWyze got his ticket to Hollywood and, subsequently, made it through many cuts of the competition. In preparation for “judge’s week,” we see Lee receive a text message from none other than Mr. Simon Cowell himself which reads:
Hi Lee, it’s Simon. For the judge’s choice, I’ve selected “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen/Jeff Buckley as your “Judge’s Choice” song for next week. Good luck!
Lee seems pretty cool about the news during the show interview, but if it were us receiving a text message from THE Simon Cowell, requesting us to sing one of the most iconic songs of all time, we think we would be just a bit more nervous than him!
Before Leo gets up on stage to perform the “judge’s choice” selection, Ryan Seacrest asks Simon why he chose “Hallelujah” for the young singer in the first place.
Simon explains, “We’ve heard this song before, but I don’t think we’re ever going to hear it like Lee’s going to do.” He goes on to say, “This is his night—a big, big night for him—and I wanted him to do something which shows he’s got the potential to be a great artist.” Well, with that sort of support, it’s pretty obvious that this guy is going to hit it out of the park!
And, of course that’s exactly what he does! Lee’s gravely, rich voice lends itself so well to Cohen’s beloved classic. We just love the strings section that comes in to back him up during the first verse. So pretty!
Afterwards, the studio audience rises right up to their feet in a moving standing ovation. It’s amazing to see so many people go absolutely wild for this ballad.
Then, the rest of the judges—Randy Jackson, Ellen DeGeneres, and Kara DioGuardi—give their critiques, and each one is pretty astonishing!
Watch the video below to see exactly what they, along with the hard-to-please Simon, say about Leo’s performance. We don’t know about you, but this may just be our new favorite version of “Hallelujah!”
What do you think of Leo DeWyze’s rendition of this legendary song? Who sings your favorite version of “Hallelujah?” What is your favorite American Idol performance? Tell us all about your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!