There are just an absolute slew of Metallica (the album) covers appearing these days, as part of the build up to The Blacklist, the forthcoming “Black Album” tribute album. Ten of the tribute’s covers–count ’em, ten–are of the song “Nothing Else Matters.” Arguably the most commercial song Metallica had yet written, it was a marked departure for the band when Hetfield wrote it. (Apparently he didn’t initially write it to record with Metallica.) It’s since become Metallica’s best-selling song, and it’s perhaps most accessible to softer treatments of any song in their catalogue.
There’s long been a bit of a baroque feel to the softest parts Metallica’s music. As early as Ride the Lightning, the band introduced acoustic guitars that had a baroque feel. So it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise when Phoebe Bridgers‘ new cover of “Nothing Else Matters” opens with piano (backed by something like a plucked cello?) that could almost recall baroque music.
The song is basically the same tempo, but is considerably softer. It builds slowly and softly with additional strings entering and some double-tracked vocals on the refrain. At around three minutes, electronic percussion comes in to give the song a little more heft. But even with the limited percussion, the vibe is still soft and somber.
Perhaps it’s a bit obvious, as going softer than the original is the easy route. But it’s an extremely pretty version, and Bridgers shows a lot of restraint with the arrangement. Check it out below: