The Blacklist, the epic, 53-artist tribute to Metallica’s self-titled “Black Album” coming out September 10, is producing a lot of Metallica covers. But most of those we’ve featured were of the hits. IDLES, the British punk band, decided to take on a less famous track, “The God That Failed.”
Brandi Carlile – We Belong (Pat Benatar cover)
Cheating a little as we missed this one in July, but if you too haven’t heard the acoustic “We Belong” Brandi’s been playing on tour with The Twins, it will be worth the wait. “We belong together” takes on a whole new meaning as we (try to) come out of quarantine.
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:
Alex Cameron ft. Roan Yellowthorn – Islands in the Stream (Kenny Rogers / Dolly Parton cover)
For a new single, Australian singer Alex Cameron, who has worked with everyone from The Killers to Foxygen, decided to take on two Kenny Rogers tunes written by Barry Gibb. One, “Midsummer Nights,” is comparatively obscure. The other – the one above – is not. Playing the Dolly Parton role to Alex’s Kenny is Roan Yellowthorn aka Jackie McLean, daughter of “American Pie” singer Don McLean.
Annie – Just Like Honey (Jesus and Mary Chain cover)
Norwegian pop musician Annie doesn’t release much music – 2020 saw her first album in 11 years – but she’s got a new EP out in September, Neon Nights. It features some originals and covers. One is the Dirty Dancing song “She’s Like The Wind.” Another is this discofied, but still shoegazy in a more electronic way, take on the Jesus and Mary Chain’s most often-covered song.
There’s a new slew of covers for the upcoming Metallica Black Album tribute. Recently, Diet Cig, H*Ash and Shor Police, Divine and Vishal Dadlani (the last three together) all released versions of “The Unforgiven,” the second single from that album. The new covers run a fairly wide stylistic gamut, showing the crossover appeal of both the song and Metallica itself. Of the three, Diet Cig’s stands out.
If it feels like everyone is covering Metallica‘s self-titled “Black Album” lately, that’s because a massive 30th anniversary cover collection called The Blacklist is coming out this fall. Jason Isbell‘s contribution is a version of the album’s fifth single, “Sad But True.” Other artists tackling the track for the The Blacklist have preserved the form of the music, even if they’re using synthesizers, but Isbell and his band, the 400 Unit keep the words and fiddle with just about everything else.