“Toxicity,” the second single from the album of the same name, was System of a Down’s biggest hit to date, helping to briefly establish them as one of the most commercially successful metal bands of their era. Since then it’s become a bit of a metal classic – please don’t call it nu metal – and a favorite cover for YouTubers. The song perfectly captures the band’s legendary dynamics of accessible, melodic verses with manic, pummeling choruses.
Daniel Romano’s Outfit – Sweetheart Like You (Bob Dylan cover)
This one’s for all the Dylan superfans. In 1984, Bob Dylan played three songs on Letterman with L.A. punk band The Plugz. They were gritty and garagey and raw. It boded well for his new sound. And then he never played with them again. The album he was ostensibly promoting, Infidels, was much smoother, helmed by Mark Knopfler. For those who still wonder what could have been, Daniel Romano covered the entire album as if he’d recorded it with The Plugz.
Amanda Palmer – Beds Are Burning (Midnight Oil cover)
Julia Stone – Beds Are Burning (Midnight Oil cover)
Due to the wildfires devastating Australia, Midnight Oil’s ecological anthem “Beds Are Burning” has gotten covered a lot this year (Patti Smith was, as always, ahead of the curve). The sudden abundance of covers of a great song is not a silver lining – there is no silver lining – but hopefully the funds from these go some small way towards rebuilding. The two most prominent come from honorary Australian Amanda Palmer and actual Australian Missy Higgs, on a charity EP that sees the first low-key Dresden Dolls reunion in ages, and from Julia Stone, who put together a covers set that comes out next month and features The National and more covering Aussie acts.
YouTube is filled with amateur cover “artists.” Most stink. On the ‘Tube extracts the exceptions.
YouTube often tests the faith of even the most loyal champion. Why do so many teenage girls think webcam a cappella versions of Rihanna hits make them worthy of our time? Millions do, apparently. Just when you feel ready to give up on the whole endeavor, you come across a wild looking Ukrainian piano maestro playing Slayer’s “Raining Blood” and you breathe a sigh of relief.
Vika Yermolyeva, who goes by the moniker vkgoeswild on YouTube, trained classically and has received numerous awards for her playing. Now based in Iceland, she also harbors a not-so-secret love of metal, which she expresses by showcasing her solo piano arrangements of songs by bands such as Metallica, Nine Inch Nails and System of a Down. Her stunning results illustrate the beauty of the piano as a musical instrument in the right hands: an instrument that combines percussion and melody better than all others, allowing for an incredible range of expression.