Cover songs are a dime a dozen, but they’re almost always rock songs performed by other rock bands: Metallica covered Queen’s “Stone Cold Crazy,” Ugly Kid Joe covered Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle,” Guns N Roses covered Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”
But pop songs getting covered? That’s a different animal. Most pop music doesn’t stand the test of time like classic rock… or so it would seem. As it turns out, some pop music has been covered with clear respect and admiration by the least likely suspect: metal bands. These are 16 of the most highly polished, well produced, reverent covers out there.
Originally by: Michael Jackson
Covered by: Yngwie Malmsteen
Depending on who you you ask, Swedish virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen is either the King of Guitar Shredders or the King of the Douchebags. Regardless of your personal feelings for the guy, his cover of Michael Jackson’s classic is amazing, largely because it doesn’t include a seven-minute long masturbatory guitar solo like his usual work. But the real star is vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s the guy who replaced Judas Priest’s legendary Rob Halford and then got a Mark Wahlberg movie loosely based on his story.
“Beds are Burning”
Originally by: Midnight Oil
Covered by: Sinner
If ever there was a guy meant to front a metal band, it would be a guy named Mat Sinner. The German-born rocker might just be the hardest working man in metal. Not only has he lead his titular band Sinner since 1982, but he currently produces, performs, and song-writes for two other bands: Primal Fear and Silent Force. Sinner’s cover gives Midnight Oil’s hit a much welcomed hard rock edge that still captures the spirit of the original.
“Dance with Somebody”
Originally by: Mando Diao
Covered by: Iron Savior
Iron Savior’s cover of Swedish pop-rockers Mando Diao is surprisingly close to the original, maintaining the infectious, upbeat, catchy tune while still making it a metal masterpiece. If you like what you hear, be sure to support both bands by buying their music through this handy Laser Time Amazon link.
“Don’t You Forget About Me”
Originally by: Simple Minds
Covered by: Life of Agony
Nineties alt-rockers Life of Agony give the Breakfast Club classic an insanely dark twist that must have been every goth kid’s wet dream. What was once a song of longing and teen angst is turned into a six-minute brooding epic of anguish and, well, agony.
Originally by: The Beatles
Covered by: Pain
Whoa, whoa, whoa… Did I just call The Beatles a pop band? You bet I did. Any live footage of their shows is virtually indistinguishable from a One Direction concert — if you watch the screaming girls in the audience, that is. Turns out that Eleanor Rigby is actually quite the popular song to cover. Pain isn’t the only rock or metal band to redo the track, but I think their aggressive, string-infused version is one of the best.
“Holding Out for a Hero”
Originally by: Bonnie Tyler
Covered by: Van Canto
Are you ready for some a capella metal? Aside from the drums, the only instruments in Van Canto are the singer’s mouths. So get ready for plenty of “dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun’s,” some “doom doom da da doom doom da da’s,” and plenty of “mom-mom-mom-mom-mom-mom’s.” The first or second time you hear these guys is really weird, but it grows on you, and they’ve improved as a band with each album — this is from their third, released in 2014.
“I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight”
Originally by: Cutting Crew
Covered by: Northern Kings
Northern Kings is a super group comprised of four of Finland’s finest metal singers: Jarkko Ahola (Teräsbetoni/Dreamtale), Marco Hietala (Nightwish/Tarot), Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica) and Juha-Pekka Leppäluoto (Charon/Harmaja). They’ve released two cover albums comprised largely of 80s pop and rock songs that received a power metal treatment that only four singers of this magnitude could give. Covering everything from Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose” to Tina Turner’s “We Don’t Need Another Hero” and even Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” these guys are not to be missed.
“I Would do Anything for Love”
Originally by: Meat Loaf
Covered by: Xandria
Holy gender swap, Batman! Xandria took Meat Loaf’s overwrought, bombastic power ballad and reversed roles, with lead singer Dianne van Giersbergen taking on the “man’s” part, and guest vocalist Valerio Recenti singing the opposite. Dianne absolutely kills it, but things do get a bit creepy once they start singing back and forth. The lyrics for the woman’s part do sound odd coming from a guy, but we’re all OK with a little role-playing, right?
We’re halfway there. More metal covers on page two!