10 best metal covers of hit pop songs
Although pop and metal may seem like polar opposites, they honestly have a lot in common.
Namely, tons of metal fans and artists appreciate the softer styles (and vice versa); so even the most unconventional brutal tastes could go hand in hand with lighter traditional dishes. In the end, a good song remains a good song regardless of its genre.
Additionally, a radically different take on a song can shed new light on why it stands out, so that listeners develop a new appreciation for something they’ve previously dismissed.
With that in mind, here are 10 of the best metal covers of hit pop songs. Like all great adaptations, they put a singular yet true spin on the songs they reimagine, and we can’t get enough of them.
Next Step, “I Kissed a Girl” (Katy Perry)
Naturally, Katy Perry kind of regrets releasing that debut single from 2008. One of the boys. Regardless of what she or others think of the original version, there’s no denying that 2018’s take on Next Step is remarkably imaginative and seductive.
Beginning with percussion reminiscent of both Metallica’s ‘Master of Puppets’ and AC/DC’s ‘TNT’, the Spanish quartet blends grungy, throaty vocals with the heaviness and undertone of alternative metal. As a result, the dynamism and accessibility of Perry’s chewing gum is replaced with a cold intensity and complexity, resulting in a surprisingly darker vibe overall. It is both recognizable and distinctive, thus succeeding on all fronts.
HIM, “Wicked Game” (Chris Isaac)
Written about “what happens when you have a strong attraction to people who aren’t necessarily good for you”, Chris Isaak’s 1989 track is a staple of contemporary soft pop-rock.
So, HIM deserves applause for ingeniously assimilating it into their gothic metal formula. In fact, the Finnish set has done it several times, with the last cut appearing on the 2000s razor blade romance. (Videos of their previous attempts can be seen here and here.)
They all follow the same fundamental pattern, with the most recent being a sleeker, more multifaceted synthesis of Isaak’s rockabilly doom and HIM’s sleek, high-pitched angst.
Type O negative, “Summer Breeze” (Seals and Croft)
We still can’t hear this one without thinking of the 1997s I know what you did last summer. That said, it’s from 1993 bloody kisses and would go on to be called “Summer Girl” before New York doom metallers decided their new lyrics were “in bad taste”.
Of course, they do a lot to put their mark on it anyway. While the 1972 edition of Seals and Crofts is airy and warm, Type O Negative’s is anything but. On the contrary, it’s uniquely dark and grimy thanks to Peter Steele’s unmistakable bellows alongside the gritty and distressing instrumentation. Various special effects also add personality.
Rammstein, “Nude” (Depeche Mode)
Released in 1998, tribute LP to Depeche Mode For the masses offered commendable covers of many bands (such as The Smashing Pumpkins and Deftones). Still, perhaps the best of the bunch was Rammstein’s approach to “Stripped.”
Predictably, some industrial undertones remain, but the German sextet has cut virtually all ties to synth-pop (as well as the “to the bone” part of the main hook due to the difficulty of Till Lindemann to make it work). Even so, it is surprisingly welcoming as its programmed textures, moody atmosphere and layered vocals create one of Rammstein’s most melodious and reserved pieces. It’s a superb translation.
DevilDriver, “Sailing” (AWOLNATION)
The dark electropop undercurrent of AWOLNATION’s “Sail” was just begging to be reinforced with an extremely abrasive act. Enter California groove/melodic death metal quintet DevilDriver, whose 2013 rendition is just what the doctor ordered.
It retains much of the feel and rhythm of AWOLNATION, but with a lot more cinematic and technical bite (including fiery guitar playing and ethereal backing vocals). As leader Dez Fafara rightly said strong wire in 2014: “We cover songs from time to time depending on the song that affects me personally. This melody did just that. . . . We have made the song our own without compromising its original integrity.
Fear Factory with Gary Numan, “Cars” (Gary Numan)
“Cars” is a new wave/synth-pop classic and Gary Numan’s signature song, so it only made sense for the initially hesitant artist to join nu-metal band Fear Factory to revise it 20 years later (on the 1999 digipak variant of their third studio album, Obsolete).
Overall, it follows the same trajectory and lasts as long as Numan’s version, and Numan’s voice – which hadn’t changed much – works well in addition to Burton C. Bell’s deeper timbre. Throw in some crunchy guitar riffs and gritty drumming and you’ve got a triumphant take that was instrumental in Fear Factory’s mainstream success.
Children of Bodom, “Oops!…I Did It Again” (Britney Spears)
The sheer absurdity of what’s going on here is amusing; however, that doesn’t mean the Finnish power metal troupe doesn’t deserve esteem for turning something so ostensibly incompatible into a signature lineup.
Without a doubt, they turn Spears’ sugary dance-pop darling into an eerie satirical gem (as they’ve also done for other 2009 tracks. Skeletons in the closet covers compiling). It starts with coughing and spitting sounds, so it’s clear the band are having fun, and despite its mostly dirty and vicious essence, Nylon Beat’s Jonna Kosonen assures that it also retains some of the catchy, glitzy charm of spears.
Ice Nine Kills, “Someone Like You” (Adele)
In terms of songwriting quality, Adele’s “Someone Like You” is the best entry here, and metalcore/post-hardcore quintet Ice Nine Kills definitely did it justice in 2013. The predator PE.
Unlike Adele’s piano ballad methodology, the band expertly apply the epic emotionality and full-bodied arrangements of their core styles.
Specifically, their aching harmonies, intricate rhythms, despised screams and dreamy synth coatings result in a denser and arguably more dramatic creation. Sure, some of Adele’s elegance is lost along the way – and hers is the superior option – but Ice Nine Kills does a fantastic job of reinventing her nonetheless.
System of a Down, “The Underground” (Berlin)
Like HIM and “Wicked Game,” eclectic metal quartet System of a Down recorded multiple edits of the 1982 Berlin new wave/synth-pop track. The most recent was featured on the 2001 soundtrack Not another teen movieand at just 3 minutes in length, it’s a full minute less than the Berlin version.
With thick basslines, steady beats, offbeat guitar lines, poignant vocals and abrupt stylistic shifts, it’s the epitome of System of a Down. As such, it’s a radical departure from its predecessor musically and melodically, but it’s exactly this willingness and ability to make such a bold reinvention that makes it stand out.
Limp Bizkit, “Faith” (George Michael)
No one will argue that Fred Durst sings as well as George Michael (especially after hearing Durst’s isolated vocals), but overall Limp Bizkit’s 1997 adaptation of “Faith” is too enjoyable not to mention. .
They had been playing it live for a while, and even though Three dollar bill y’all Producer Ross Robinson was originally opposed to the recording, he was convinced to do so because of Limp Bizkit’s inventive strategies. Typically, his nu metal/rapcore veneer leads to a lot of playful corrosivity – Durst even calls out, “Get the fuck up!” towards the end – so it’s a lot of fun.