It doesn’t happen all that often, but every now and then a pop star/mainstream artist elects to cover something hard and heavy. The results are quite varied, ranging from surprisingly impressive to just plain dreadful and, here, we examine 12 Times Pop Artists Covered Rock and Metal Songs.
Counted among the surprises are indie rock group The Cardigans. They’ve covered a handful of Black Sabbath songs throughout their career and opting to take on the devastatingly heavy “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” was downright bold, but it paid dividends.
As for the ones we’d like to forget ever happened, that distinction certainly belongs to Avril Lavigne, who bravely performed System of a Down‘s “Chop Suey!” onstage. It is downright obnoxious, proving that only a select handful of bands can truly pull of such a whacky, over-the-top dynamic as perfected by System.
Now, let us take you through the great, the ugly and everything in between below.
- Tori Amos, “Raining Blood”Originally by SlayerTori Amos is the closest music gets to just being a whisper, which puts her at odds with the very notion of attempting to cover Slayer, nevermind taking on their masterpiece metal hymn, “Raining Blood.” But this cover is heavy in a different way altogether. The overbearing emptiness on display invokes an even more sinister chill when lyrics such as “Fall into me, the sky’s crimson tears / abolish the rules made of stone” gently creep into play.
The Cardigans, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”
Originally by Black Sabbath
We could have flooded this list with Sabbath covers by Swedish indie pop darlings The Cardigans. They come from a pretty metal country, so maybe it isn’t that surprising that there’s this deep-running obsession with Black Sabbath within the group.
Anyway, we opted to highlight “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” because it’s undeniably a Top 5 heaviest song by the godfathers of heavy metal. We’re still not really sure how The Cardigans pulled this off so successfully. Every instinct says to run — fast and far — away from the very idea of this type of cover, but that’s just the eilitism demon standing on our left shoulder trying to make us an uptight jackass.
Mariah Carey, “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak”
Originally by Def Leppard
Whistle-tone-capable ear-piercer Mariah Carey took on a hair metal classic in 2002, a year where hair metal remained far removed from the mainstream, resigned for ‘80s hangers-on pining for a return to the golden age of rock debauchery. This cut off Def Leppard’s 1981 album High ‘n’ Dry gets stripped of its rock leanings and is a wholesale R&B makeover that finds Carey hitting notes so high that we think we just saw a pack of dogs run by in obvious distress.
Britney Spears, “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll”
Originally by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
We love rock ‘n’ roll, you love rock ‘n’ roll and pop star Britney Spears evidently loves rock ‘n’ roll. What we don’t love is this haphazard cover of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ energetic call to arms (which itself is an Arrows cover).
Gone is the booming, distorted guitar, though one look at the guitarist in the video would have you thinking he’s got that amp cranked to 11. This is a failed try-hard attempt to make Spears appeal to an aging rock crowd in the early 2000s while she had already ensnared an entire teenage and young adult generation.