10 metal cover songs that are unforgivably bad

Dave Mustaine, Jonathan Davis, Kid Rock, Vince Neil and Robb Flynn art various shows
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Heavy metal greats covering songs by other artists has been a mainstay of the genre since its ground zero. Literally: Evil Woman, one of the more celebrated tracks from Black Sabbath's game-changing 1970 debut album, is a cover of Crow's hit single from the year prior.

Some metal covers go on to become iconic in their own right, either equalling or, occasionally, even surpassing the legacy of the originals. Others, however, definitely do not do that. Some covers, in fact, are so terrible that it's a wonder they were ever allowed to be committed to tape in the first place. Yes, in some cases, said covers were never meant to be taken that seriously, but it doesn't mean they should have ever happened. With that in mind, here are ten particularly heinous metal covers of classic songs that we'd rather didn't exist.

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Spineshank - While My Guitar Gently Weeps (The Beatles)

Those who remember the inexplicable wave of them that emerged around the turn of the Millennium may not be surprised to see a few nu metal covers of legendary songs on this list, and few were more unforgivable than Spineshank's bizarre take on this Beatles classic. The beloved White Album cut was given an angsty, Millennial metal makeover, Spineshank frontman Jonny Santos wailing and screaming like his life depended on it and sucking every inch of beauty and emotional heft out of George Harrison's masterful composition. It's lucky Spineshank went on to release some all-time nu metal bangers, because they wouldn't want this being their legacy.

Machine Head - Message In A Bottle (The Police)

See, we told you there'd be more! Depending on who you ask, Machine Head's venture into nu metal for 1999's The Burning Red was either a canny sideways move into a sound that suited their groove metal heft, or a badly executed, cynical swing for the fences. We fall firmly into the former camp, but what surely can't be in doubt is that their cover of The Police's hallmark anthem is completely fucking ridiculous. At least, we think it can't be in doubt: Message In A Bottle is by far the most-streamed song on The Burning Red, so clearly, a lot of people like it. Are we so out of touch?

...No. It's late 90s nu metal fans who are wrong. 

Megadeth - These Boots (Nancy Sinatra)

Hmmm, now Dave, this debut album from your new thrash metal band designed to show the world exactly what Metallica are missing sounds great, but we're still feeling like it's missing something. Something like...yes...we've got it...a clunky, momentum-buggering cover of a Nancy Sinatra song! Changing up the lyrics of the sassy 1965 original to inject some extra helpings of juvenile smut somehow managed to make an already terrible cover even worse. Clearly, this wasn't ever meant to be taken seriously - though the song's original writer, Lee Hazelwood, certainly took it seriously enough to file a lawsuit a few years later. Whoops! 

Mötley Crüe - Anarchy In The UK (Sex Pistols)

John Lydon may not have exactly covered his punk rock legacy in glory in recent years, but that hasn't taken away a single ounce of the piss, vinegar and pure, reckless rage that powered Never Mind The Bollocks.... It's why Sex Pistols songs should, really, be left well alone. Sadly, Mötley Crüe didn't get the memo, resulting in this lacklustre reimagining of one of the punk icons' biggest hits. We're not sure what's worse: the hokey sneaking in of "U.S.A.!" to the song's lyrics or Vince Neil's strange on-again-off-again attempt at a cockney accent. Somehow, one of 80s metal's most controversial bands managed to make a dangerous anthem sound safe as a cuppa tea round your nan's.

Children Of Bodom - Oops!... I Did It Again (Britney Spears)

Alright, so let's be fair about this one: Children Of Bodom pretty much set out to make the daftest, most obnoxious metal cover of Britney's mega-hit pop anthem as they possibly could, and on that note, they absolutely succeeded. Unfortunately, it all came at the expense of the cover actually sounding any good: the much-missed Alexi Laiho's singing is so bad it makes the song nigh-on unlistenable, while the kick into a gung ho double-time final chorus arrives too late to save what is, ultimately, a shabby, plodding mess. At least it's a funny mess, though.

Nickelback, Kid Rock and Dimebag Darrell - Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting) (Elton John)

If you've never heard of this one and just read that artist combo for the first time, your brain probably just imploded. Recorded for McG's god awful Charlie's Angels sequel Full Throttle in 2003, the unlikely coming together of Nickelback, Kid Rock and Pantera's Dimebag resulted in this absolute dog's dinner of a take on Elton John's rowdiest hit. When you're taking on one of the all-time greatest songs written about getting leathered and lairy, you best not miss, but oh boy, did this one miss hard.

In Flames - Land Of Confusion (Genesis)

Anyone out there suggesting Disturbed's cover of Genesis' classic isn't all that good needs to hear what a truly bad cover of it sounds like. In Flames may be one of the greatest and most influential metal bands to come from the 90s, but from the St Anger-level snare that introduces the song to the low-rent chorus, everything about their take on Land Of Confusion is just way, way off. We don't think the In Flames of today would let anything this shoddily put together see the light of day, quite frankly.

Powerman 5000 - Relax  (Frankie Goes To Hollywood)

Please, lord make it stop. Just when it looked like the tsunami of dodgy nu metal covers had abated, along came this absolute stinker. Recorded for classic 2001 Ben Stiller comedy Zoolander, if the idea was to record something also totally hilarious, then mission accomplish. We're not completely convinced it was supposed to be hilariously bad, however. Legend has it that Limp Bizkit were originally the band set to provide their version of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's smash debut single. Surely it can't have been any worse than this?

Dark Angel - Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin)

A useful lesson for metal bands that taking a classic song, speeding it up and making it heavier doesn't always result in it becoming better, or even, as in the case of this weird-arse Dark Angel reimagining of Immigrant Song, so much as one hundredth as good. From Ron Rineheart's squawked opening scream it's clear this cut from 1989's Leave Scars is about to go flying off the rails. By the time you get to midway through the first verse, you can hardly tell what you're even listening to. Oh dear.

Korn - Another Brick In The Wall, Pt. 1, 2, 3 (Pink Floyd)

Korn's 2004 compilation Greatest Hits Vol. 1 boasted two previously unreleased cover versions. One was Word Up!: a fun as hell, groovy take on Cameo's 80s funk classic, albeit accompanied by a terrible video involving the band running around as dogs. The other cover was a bold but ultimately misfiring attempt at Pink Floyd's Another Brick In The Wall that started off promisingly but quickly devolved into a plodding, meandering malaise. That the band have insisted on playing it hundreds of times live suggests that they liked it, at least. Which is a shame, because they could have fit in two Word Up!s each time instead!

Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin moved into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He is also probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.