The world’s biggest bands have released cover songs, and in some cases whole albums. Dropping a cover song outside your band’s usual genre can be a recipe for disaster, but that hasn’t stopped a lot of heavy bands from having a go.
A good cover is an art-form in itself, do you rework it entirely, do a straight-out carbon copy or just tweak it a little? All have their pros and cons, you could drop a hit, a miss, or become a laughingstock. Some examples of the latter are Motley Crue’s take on Madonna, Limp Bizkit losing it with ‘Faith’ and pretty much any band who tries to cover The Beatles.
But shitty covers aside, many times the covers have been as good as and in many cases actually better than the original. So, with that in mind here is the official (unofficial) Wall Of Sound Countdown of the 20 best covers by heavy bands of non-heavy songs better than the originals…
#20 – Children Of Bodom – ‘Oops! … I Did It Again’
The Finnish masters of Melodic Death Metal have never shied away from a good cover song. So when Alexi Laiho and co ripped into this saccharin sweet turd from 2000 it turned out exactly as expected. Aside from the chorus it’s barely recognisable from the Britney Spears original, and for that we can be eternally grateful.
#19 – Breakdown of Sanity – ‘Stronger’
They may have only been around for 10 short years, but the Swiss natives managed to release 4 albums and this absolutely brutal cover of Kanye West’s ‘Stronger’. Apparently West mixed the track over 75 times before he released it, but it took a metalcore group from Bern to get it right… Fun Fact: The lads might be making a comeback to music in 2020 which is exciting!
#18 – Cancer Bats – ‘Sabotage’
Simmer down people, I’m not saying this cover is better than the Beastie Boys original. But these Canadians bring something different to the table, their hardcore element fits the song perfectly, add to that a hilarious music video full of Beastie Boys Easter Eggs and you just gotta like it.
#17 – Marilyn Manson – ‘Tainted Love’
In 1981 synthpop duo Soft Cell had a smash hit with the Gloria Jones 1964 flop ‘Tainted Love’. In 2001 Marilyn Manson dragged the song kicking and screaming to a whole new audience. The androgynous one added a little bit of danger and a touch of nasty taking the song to a new level.
#16 – The Amity Affliction – ‘Love Is A Battlefield’
Love them or hate them you have to hand it to the lads on this cover. They kept it real and delivered the goods. Pat Benatar fans may disagree, but for me this metalcore treatment adds some welcome oomph missing from the original. (send all hate mail to me c/o Wall of Sound)
#15 – Alestorm – ‘I Got A Hangover’
I was actually surprised to find out this was not an Alestorm original. The lyrics are so bad it sounds like they were drunk when they wrote it, except they didn’t. It was written by someone called Taio Cruz. His version sucks, this one is funny and infinitely better.
#14 – Celtic Frost – ‘Mexican Radio’
Extreme metal legends Celtic Frost gave Wall Of Voodoo’s 1982 stinker the treatment it deserved. I don’t know if it got them any airplay south of the border, but it’s a firm favourite on my playlist.
#13 – Chaos Divine – ‘Africa’
Perth prog rockers took one of the most recognisable Yacht Rock songs ever released, stayed faithful but added a nice metallic edge. It’s hard to beat the original, but I think the boys from the west may have just done it. With well over half a million views on YouTube there’s plenty who think the same.
#12 – Grayscale – ‘Love Yourself’
To quote a YouTube comment “Is that Justin Bieber but like a hundred times better?” Well I’d say that about pretty much anything that isn’t the Beeb. Alt-rockers Grayscale take another throwaway song add a bit of pop-punk and deliver a far superior product. The video is killer as well.
#11 – Megadeth – ‘These Boots (Are Made For Walkin’)’
This is another song I didn’t know was a cover when I first heard it on 1985’s Killing Is My Business … and Business Is Good! Although it’s been covered by a ton of artists, and composer Lee Hazelwood hated this version, it is in my mind still the best version.
#10 – Taberah – ‘Hotel California’
The now defunct Tasmanian band were one of Australia’s most entertaining live acts and their sense of fun flowed over in this cover of The Eagles classic. Faster than the NBN, the boys rip through the song at break-neck speed with no thought for the consequences.
#9 – Disturbed – ‘The Sound Of Silence’
This one was a given. It still astounds me when people hear this, discover Disturbed are a metal band are surprised David Draiman “can actually sing”. Of course he can fucking sing, have you not been paying attention to metal since 1969? No they haven’t. Rant aside, the band don’t stray too far from the original and Draiman absolutely kills it!
#8 – Ice Nine Kills – ‘Someone Like You’
If you’re anything like me the Adele original has you bored to death by the 1-minute mark. Thankfully those legends at Ice Nine Kills absolutely kill it with this cover. They take the overly sentimental, mawkish, yawn-fest and inject it with life-giving metal.
#7 – Fozzy – ‘S.O.S’
Drop this into your playlist at you next party and you’ll fill the dancefloor with unsuspecting ABBA fans and they won’t know what hit them. Chris Jericho and co don’t stray too far from the original, but add enough rock to open the song up to non-ABBA fans.
#6 – August Burns Red – ‘Wrecking Ball’
It’s fair to say Miley Cyrus contribution to music has been a wrecking ball, filling an already crowded space of shitty mediocrity with more of the same. The treatment metalcore legends and all round nice guys August Burns Red did to this steaming pile of pop garbage proves once again, it doesn’t matter how shit the song is with the right touch almost anything is listenable.
#5 – Anthrax – ‘Got The Time’
The New York thrashers stayed pretty faithful to the Joe Jackson original. To be honest it’s a cool fucking song and didn’t need a complete rebuild. Cranking the tempo a touch and adding the metal this jazz fusion became a headbanging favourite the band have made their own.
#4 – The Superjesus – ‘Confide In Me’
Not considered a heavy band in any real sense of the word The Superjesus make the list purely on the back of this dirty rock rendition of Kylie’s ‘Confide In Me’. It’s almost indistinguishable from the original as Sarah McLeod absolutely shines and out-shines Kylie in every way possible.
#3 – Lord – ‘On A Night Like This’
The lads in Lord have covered more non-metal songs than you can shake a stick at, always with respect and a good dose of humour. They did such a great job on this one it’s their most played songs on Spotify. The singing budgie never sounded better, with 2 covers in the top 5 it just goes to show you Kylie may actually sing some good songs, it’s just the way she does it that makes them suck.
#2 – sleepmakeswaves – ‘Children’
Aussie prog instrumental masters sleepmakeswaves took on the Robert Miles progressive trance banger with devastating effect. Keyboards and synth are replaced by guitars, bass and drums. It’s a note perfect faithful rendition proving that maybe you can play dance music with real instruments.
#1 – Make Way For Man – ‘Fireflies’
Owl City’s debut single was a quirky, sweet, unlikely hit for the electronica outfit. This cover by Make Way For Man gave me literal chills when I first heard it. It’s still quirky, still sweet but the crunching heaviness will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. There’s a reason this is the top of the list. It stays faithful to the original and adds a whole bootful of FUCK YEAH!
So how did we go with that list? How many did we get right, are there any blinding omissions? Chuck your favourite non-heavy songs covered by heavy bands in the comments.
Written by Gareth Williams (@notgareth)