SNL’s ‘Hillary Clinton’ Mourns Election Loss With Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’
Saturday Night Live's Kate McKinnon opened the series' first post-election show in an unusually serious way, with a somber performance of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."
Her performance served both as a tribute to the recently deceased Cohen and as a commentary on Donald Trump's surprising victory over Hillary Clinton in this week's Presidential election.
Dressed as Clinton, who she portrayed on SNL in the run-up to the election, McKinnon (who learned piano, guitar and cello as a child) played and sang live in highly impressive fashion. The lyrics – "I did my best, it wasn't much. I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch. I told the truth, I didn't come to fool you. And even though it all went wrong, I'll stand before the lord of song with nothing on my tongue but hallelujah" - carried special resonance for those unhappy with Clinton's loss.
At the end of her performance, the openly gay McKinnon ("I have not seen a human penis, except on the nude art model," she joked during a 2008 interview) turned directly to the camera and said "I'm not giving up, and neither should you." As noted by NPR, during his campaign Trump promised to rescind executive orders, made by his predecessor President Obama, which protect gays and lesbians working for federal contractors.
Although Trump pledged to "do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology" in the wake of the June 2016 massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Rachel Tivens of the civil rights organization Lambda Legal notes that he has also "promised to appoint people to executive branch agencies, and within the White House and the Justice Department, who are hostile to LGBT people."
Cohen, who for over five decades was one of music's most beloved and individualistic poets and performers, died earlier this week of unknown causes. "Hallelujah" was his most popular and frequently covered song, with John Cale and Jeff Buckley's versions particularly prominent among the countless artists who have re-interpreted it over the past three decades.