10 unexpectedly brilliant metal covers of 2010s pop songs

Miley Cyrus, Oli Sykes, Taylor Swift and Spencer Charnas
(Image credit: Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift: Youtube / Oli Sykes and Spencer Charnas: press)

The 2010s – the 10s, for short – seem like a far-off, distant land. Bands could travel freely around Europe, motorists could fill their petrol tank without even wincing and the idea of the world staying indoors to protect each other from a pandemic was the stuff of a Hollywood drama. 

That decade also produced some absolute bangers in the pop world. You couldn't move for them. Some of them became so irresistible, bands in the rock and metal world couldn't resist having a little tinker with them and making them their own. They did them for songs from the 90s and the 00s, and we wouldn't be surprised if we revisited this idea in 2030.

But for now, here are the 10 best examples when metal went pop (er, during a specific, 2010s timeframe).

A divider for Metal Hammer

Ice Nine Kills – Someone Like You (Adele)

Taken from Adele's 2011 album 21, Someone Like You is a piano-led meditation on a failed relationship which will make even the most hard-hearted break down in a puddle of sad. People must love that wet-eyed feeling as the song is, according to a popular free encyclopaedia website, the third-most downloaded single in the UK ever and the fourth-biggest single since 2000. Boston's horror-obsessed five-piece Ice Nine Kills' cover followed a year later and is a surprisingly respectful cover of the Tottenham-born stadium-filler's hit. Apart from the breakdowns and growled vocals. 

We Came As Romans – I Knew You Were Trouble (Taylor Swift) 

We Came As Romans' cover of the Taylor Swift single first appeared on the sixth instalment of Fearless Records' Punk Goes Pop series. “We chose to cover Trouble because we all like the song and had a vision of how to make it our own style," said vocalist Dave Stephens. "Beyond that, it’s a cry for attention. We hope Taylor Swift will notice us now since we’re all in love with her.”

We're unclear as to whether the Michigan metalcore band's efforts caught the ear of the singer, but since its release, the song has enjoyed 25 million streams on YouTube alone.

Upon A Burning Body (ft. Ice–T) – Turn Down For What (DJ Snake and Lil Jon)

With Upon a Burning Body collaborating with Ice-T, this feisty offering taken from the Punk Goes Pop series may look like an unlikely pairing. This cover of DJ Snake & Lil Jon’s Turn Down For What is hits the sweet spot between pop banger and bass drops which may compromise the integrity of your building. Fun fact: this song features a sample of Lars Ulrich's drums from Sad But True. Fuuuuuuck.

Halestorm – Get Lucky (Daft Punk)

The Pennsylvania four-piece released two cover EPs Reanimate and Reanimate 2.0 in 2011 and 2014 and tackled some choice tracks by the likes of Skid Row, AC/DC and Judas Priest. Among the metal, the band threw in some pop-shaped curveballs like Lady Gaga's Bad Romance and Daft Punk's massive 2012 single about staying up all night to have fun. By which we can only assume a lengthy session of Dungeons and Dragons. Can't imagine Pharrell Williams rolling a 20-sided die, mind.

Andy Rehfeldt's Variety Show – Wrecking Ball (Miley Cyrus)

Angeles-based composer and YouTuber Andy Rehfeldt has covered the greats in a variety of styles which may rankle the most ardent of fanbases. He's re-recorded Iron Maiden's Number Of The Beast in a bossa nova and recorded a zen-like version of Rage Against The Machine’s incendiary Killing In The Name. Here's his take on Miley Cyrus' Wrecking Ball if it were recorded in the bleakest Nordic forest by the most grumpy of men. 

Bring Me The Horizon – When The Party's Over (Billie Eilish)

Bring Me The Horizon recorded a cover of When The Party's Over by  Billie Eilish for Annie Mac's Future Sounds show on BBC Radio 1in 2019. Recorded in their Sheffield studio, the band's stripped-back version features a vocal arrangement which will make your neck hairs stand on end, or at least do the kind of shiver you make when you pee during a cold evening. It's that good. 

Vermicide Violence – Old Town Road (Lil Nas X)

According to this band's YouTube post, "Vermicide Violence is a deathcore parody project signed to Chodezilla Records, a totally real non-satirical record label created by Jarrod Alonge". 

The prolific YouTuber caught our attention in 2015 with his painfully accurate 'Every Vocalist' series. But on this cover of Lil Nas X's debut single, there's no room for mucking around, as he delivers the most deathly of deathcore on this two-minute blast. Alright, maybe a little mucking around. 

Leo Moracchioli – Call Me Maybe (Carly Rae Jepsen)

If there's a recording of any song, chances are Frog Leap content creator Leo Moracchioli will have recorded a cover of it before the original has finished uploading. He's that prolific. Here's his heavy take on Canadian chanteuse Carly Rae Jepsen's monster hit Call Me Maybe. If you wanted to hear a bubblegum pop classic about someone giving out their phone number not sung, but shouted, then this is the song for you.

DevilDriver – Sail (AWOLNATION)

Sail is a cover of a track which was released by AWOLNATION in 2011. DevilDriver's version featured on the tail-end of their 2013 album Winter Kills after vocalist Dez Fafara's teenage sons turned him onto the original. It's certainly given a metal makeover but keeps an element of the languid, brooding pace of Aaron Bruno's recording.

New Years Day - Gangsta (Kehlani)

Another Punk Goes Pop cut, this one from the seventh edition released in 2017, Gangsta sees charismatic metalcore troupe New Years Day put a brooding, gothic spin on Kehlani's throbbing, low-ebb r'n'b hit originally recorded for the Suicide Squad soundtrack. That'll be the absolutely pants 2016 one, not James Gunn's far superior reboot. Still, this is a pretty compelling new take on that particular jam.

Simon Young

Born in 1976 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Simon Young has been a music journalist for over twenty years. His fanzine, Hit A Guy With Glasses, enjoyed a one-issue run before he secured a job at Kerrang! in 1999. His writing has also appeared in Classic RockMetal HammerProg, and Planet Rock. His first book, So Much For The 30 Year Plan: Therapy? — The Authorised Biography is available via Jawbone Press. 

With contributions from