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Rumor Control: Simon Cowell 'loves,' but does not own the rights to, Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah'

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In the wake of Lee DeWyze’s much-buzzed-about rendition of “Hallelujah” on American Idol this week, internet chatter turned to the fact that Alexandra Burke, season 5 winner of Britain’s The X Factor, also performed the Leonard Cohen composition during her championship run on the latter show. Message-board conspiracy theorists and several gossip sites picked up on the connection and claimed that Idol judge Simon Cowell (who also produces and serves as a panelist on X Factor, which he’ll bring to U.S. audiences in fall 2011) chose “Hallelujah” for DeWyze because he’d purchased the rights to the song several years ago and stood to personally profit from the performance.

I went straight to the source for answers, and it turns out the story was pure rumor. Cowell “loves the song” but “he does not own the rights” to it, his publicist explains.

Turns out they actually belong to Sony/ATV Music Publishing. A rep for the company says that Cowell could potentially make money off the recording of “Hallelujah” if it was done by an artist on his label (i.e. Leona Lewis or Susan Boyle), but that Sony/ATV owns the publishing rights.

And thus concludes another edition of “Don’t Believe Everything You Read on the Internet.” –additional reporting by Whitney Pastorek

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