Donald Trump Campaign’s Use Of ‘Hallelujah’ Draws Rebuke From Leonard Cohen’s Estate, Sony/ATV

Donald Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee are under fire for the use of another piece of music — Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.

The estate of songwriter Leonard Cohen and Sony/ATV Publishing say that they specifically declined the Republican National Committee’s request for the song, but it was played any way during the final night of the convention, as Trump delivered his acceptance speech from the South Lawn of the White House.

Michael L. Rice, legal representative for Cohen’s estate, said in a statement that they were “surprised and dismayed” that the RNC would use the song knowing they “had specifically declined the RNC’s use request, and their rather brazen attempt to politicize and exploit in such an egregious manner Hallelujah‘, one of the most important songs in the Cohen song catalogue.”

He said that they are exploring legal options, but also got in a dig at the campaign.

“Had the RNC requested another song, You Want it Darker, for which Leonard won a posthumous Grammy in 2017, we might have considered approval of that song.”

Sony/ATV Publishing also weighed in. Brian Monaco, its president and global chief marketing officer, said, “On the eve of the finale of the convention, representatives from the Republican National Committee contacted us regarding obtaining permission for a live performance of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. We declined their request.”

The song was heard at least twice — once as Tori Kelly’s prerecorded rendition, and then as sung live by opera singer Christopher Macchio on the White House balcony.

This is not the first time that the Trump campaign has run into opposition from musicians for the use of their music. Tom Petty’s family objected to the use of Won’t Back Down at a Trump rally in June, for instance. The Rolling Stones also sent a legal warning to the campaign over the use of You Can’t Always Get What You Want, which had been a Trump standard.

A spokesperson for the Republican National Committee did not immediately return a request for comment.


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