If You Don't Know What It Means… Don't Use It!

There’s one word that people seem to get wrong all the damn time. Do an image search for it and you got lots of pretty text, a fish, Shrek, actor Tom Ellis on fire, three women in sports bras and one guy who looks like he might get it but there’s a mushroom cloud in the background so… no. The word is, by definition, cheerful, but you’ll rarely hear is said that way, or certainly not sung that way. (My apologies to any Southern Baptists who still seem to understand.) The word is “Hallelujah.” And the point of this entry is that the song of the same name, by Jeff Buckley, is the most misinterpreted song ever, and, therefore, quite possibly the worst.

I want to talk about this song that doesn’t understand what it’s supposed to be. The first time I heard it was in the movie Shrek, so that part of the image search almost makes sense. Remember that part where it looks like Lord Farquad won? He had Fiona. Shrek didn’t care anymore. Donkey left. And what song did they play as the backdrop? Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah. Why? Because it is the most miserable song in the history of ever. The bad guy’s won! But this is not supposed to be a word that means defeat, which is sure as hell what it sounds like in this song!

Hallelujah, by definition, is an exclamation said during worship or as an expression of REJOICING! Jeff Buckley sounds like he’s about to fall asleep. The best example I’ve heard for it is “He is risen! Alleluia!” Different spelling but same word. You hear that one a lot around Easter because they’re referring to the rebirth/resurrection/awakening of Jesus. But go to any non-Southern Baptist church and you hear it said like the whole room has been dosed with tranquilizers. Where’s the joy? Where’s the happiness? Your savior is back! You’d think they’d be happy! Of course, this is a group that calls the day their savior died “Good Friday,” so make of that what you wish.

Another definition of the word is “Joyful.” Does Jeff Buckley sound joyful? Joyful, in case you don’t know, has synonyms like cheerful, happy, jolly, merry, bright and sunny. Jeff Buckley sounds more morose, depressed, drugged, gloomy, gravy, melancholy and apathetic. Robert Smith, of The Cure fame, could look to this guy for inspiration!

Now think about this song. Can you think of a song that is more the opposite of it’s title? I’ll wait.

This song is so depressing, I can actually picture Depeche Mode, The Smiths and The (aforementioned) Cure getting together to collaborate on the most depressing song ever, but someone is reminded of this, so they give up because it’s already been done. At that moment, Pink Floyd wanders by and says, “Okay, you win.”

As I mentioned, it’s weird that if you do a Google image search for the word, it looks like it should be happy. But there are no expressly happy pictures to go with it. Text? Oh, sure, there’s happy text. But not even a happy Southern Baptist singer! (This is where even you guys fall down SBs)

Now, Biblically, Hallelujah means is a two-word phrase meaning “Praise God. But means more than simply “praise God,” as the word “hallel” in Hebrew means a joyous praise in song, to boast in God. It should be happy. Now, your homework assignment, go to church and listen to how it’s said. It’s miserable, isn’t it? Barely said. It’s usually mumbled.

Maybe that’s why god hasn’t been back in a few thousand years. Would you want to come back to that? It would sound like walking into a room and having Eeyore say, “Oh good. You’re back.” You wouldn’t want to walk in that room would you? Actually, that’s not fair to Eeyore and I would like to apologize to the stuffed donkey, because no matter how down he sounded, he was always more upbeat than Jeff Buckley’s song.


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