There is some grumbling in blog comments and on Twitter that NBC didn’t give k.d. lang a close-up for her performance of Leonard Cohen‘s classic Hallelujah because of homophobia and sexism. The theory is that while pretty singers like Sara McLachlan got plenty of close-up camera attention, the openly-lesbian and proudly butch lang was relegated to long-shots.
NBC seems pretty proud of the segment, promoting it on their Olympics Twitter feed and the case for homophobia is pretty thin. They were shooting a large stadium and the crowd visuals during the anthem were pretty stunning. And many performers, including those punk-rock, tap-dancing, leather-wearing fiddlers, were shown in medium- and long-shots. The dispute would likely amuse lang, who told Canadian magazine Macleans in an interview released this week that she doesn’t always understand her fan’s obsessiveness and called Twitter “a waste of energy on so many levels. I just don’t think I have that much insight into the world to be spreading it around randomly.”
Still, the dispute is a great excuse to take another look and listen to lang’s amazing rendition of Cohen’s much-covered classic and you can decide for yourself. While Cohen has said the song has been covered too often, he said of lang’s interpretation, “well, I think we can lay that song to rest now! It’s really been done to its ultimate blissful state of perfection.”
Update: The video on NBC’s Olympics Website–touted on Twitter–is different from the live broadcast. In the video, there are numerous close-ups of lang, including a lingering shot at the beginning of the song. We are contacting NBC to find out about the different versions. The video, by the way, is gorgeous to watch. Here is the performance as it aired live:
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