The song “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, first recorded in 1984, has become an anthem that transcends generations and backgrounds. After all, Cohen himself said that “many different hallelujahs exist,” as the tune speaks of finding faith in life itself. No aspect of this song explains this as well as the myriad of covers that have been recorded—some mournful, some full of hope. The version above, sung by 13-year-old Fionn Wheelan, is certainly an inspired take.
For this cover, Wheelan joined 18-year-old busker Allie Sherlock in the streets of Ireland. Sherlock, who has gone on tour with acts such as One Republic, sometimes likes to go back to where it all started and play for the passerby. Already a veteran musician, Sherlock spotted the potential of Wheelan as a singer, calling him “the next Ed Sheeran.” But the comparison goes beyond their shared red hair, as the boy sings with a soulfulness that matches the famed British singer.
As famous as “Hallelujah” is these days, it wasn't bound to become a hit in the beginning. It wasn't until 1991 when John Cale recorded a new version–and inspired yet another famous cover by Jeff Buckley in 1994—that it became widely known. In 2001, the song reached global fame when it was featured in the Shrek soundtrack. About the song, Cohen said, ” This world is full of conflicts and full of things that cannot be reconciled. But there are moments when we can reconcile and embrace the whole mess, and that's what I mean by ‘Hallelujah.'”
As for Wheelan, only time will tell if he will grow to be as big as the legends that have inspired him. Meanwhile, you can check more of his covers by following him on Instagram. For even more music, don't forget to pay a visit to Sherlock's YouTube channel.