10 unexpectedly brilliant metal covers of 2000s pop songs

Alexi Laiho, Britney Spears, Ministry and Amy Winehouse
(Image credit: Getty)

The 2000s represented the absolute commercial peak of metal; Linkin Park, Slipknot, System Of A Down, Korn and Limp Bizkit were all absolutely humongous at the start of the decade. Metal bands even got used to sharing chart positions and award show red carpets with some of the biggest pop stars of the time. Apparently, our scene rubbing shoulders with the biggest names in pop had quite the effect, as a load of our bands went on to cover some of the mos famous hits of the era. Here, then, are the 10 best examples of metal bands covering 2000s pop tunes. 

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Children Of Bodom – Oops!... I Did it Again (Britney Spears)

You knew this one had to be here. One of the most infamous metal covers of all time, Finnish melodeath legends Children Of Bodom took Britney Spears' 2000 mega-hit Oops!...I Did it Again and basically ruined it. In a good way. Britney’s sweet, shiny, platinum pop was gone, and in its place were razor-sharp riffs, a hilariously, deliberately OTT gargling and grunting vocal performance from Alexei Laiho, who sounds like an angry version of The Muppets' Swedish Chef, and the sense that everyone involved is having the best, most pissed-up karaoke session ever. It’s nuts, but it's impossible not to get swept up in.

The Dillinger Escape Plan – Like I Love You (Justin Timberlake)

If you need evidence of just how incredible Justin Timberlake’s 2002 hit Like I Love You is, consider this: the normally chaotic and destructive Dillinger Escape Plan chose to cover the song perfectly straight. Even the undisputed kings of mathcore knew that JT’s funky soul banger came perfectly formed, and they treated it with the respect and reverence that it so clearly deserves. Sure, DEP guitarist Ben Weinmann does a little guitar freak out toward the end, but other than that this is as faithful a retread of the song as is possible. 

Poison – SexyBack (Justin Timberlake)

More JT, this time with 80s hair metal icons Poison taking on his 2006 electro-funk rager SexyBack on their 2007 album Poison’d. Poison do a fair bit more with the song that Dillinger did, giving it a big chunky riff and a few histrionic solo widdles. It’s a pretty cool interpretation of the song, although, if we’re being honest, Brett Michaels’ Southern rasp is just not as sexy as Justin’s smooth croons. Minor quibble, though: this is decent. 

Make Way for Man – Fireflies (Owl City)

Owl City’s 2009 breakthrough hit Fireflies is a bit bloody wet, if we’re being honest. It does contain one of the decade's most inescapable earworms, though, and so this cover of the song from Aussie tech-metal lads Make Way for Man is ideal, in that it leans in heavy on that big chorus, whilst also turning the weedy sound of the original into some big chugging, riffing, grunting energy. Good work chaps. 

Malevolence - Left Outside Alone (Anastacia)

From their recent The Aggression Sessions split with Thy Art is Murder and Fit For An Autopsy, the brutal Sheffield groovers shocked everyone by deciding to include a cover of US pop diva Anastacia's 2004 hit Left Outside Alone. Considering the original was one of the most ballsy and powerful pop tracks of the decade, it actually lends itself to a more metallic makeover. But, even so, you can trust Malevolence to pump it full of double-time kick drums, savage, concrete-heavy riffs and vocalist Alex Taylor's gruff, no-fucks grunting, which they do. Even though this is heavy as a skip full of greedy hippos, we still want to give Malev props for keeping that soaring chorus way up front. Very much the best of both worlds. 

Miss May I – Run This Town (Jay-Z feat. Rihanna and Kanye West)

Attack Attack's fellow Ohio metalcore graduates took Jay-Z, Rihanna and Kanye West’s 2009 hip-pop banger and replaced the stadium-sized, shiny production with a tornado of riffs and layered-up, roaring vocals. And, no, we’re not saying that Jay-Z is a “pop” artist, but, Run This Town was certainly a sign of the rap mogul edging further into mainstream territories than ever. It’s for that reason that we include MMI absolutely decimating it here. Particular props go to Levi Benton for nailing Kanye’s verse without letting the intensity drop one iota. Nice one, lad.

Within Temptation – Apologize (One Republic)

The legends of symphonic metal decided to do an entire album of covers with 2013’s The Q-Music Sessions. There are some very interesting interpretations of a variety of pop songs on the album; we never knew that we needed symphonic metal versions of big tunes by the likes of Gnarls Barkley, Bruno Mars and Frankie Goes to Hollywood, but here we are. The standout moment, though, is turning One Republic’s 2007 smash hit Apologize from a mawkish R&B slowjam into a shimmering piece of gothy, piano-led piece of brilliance. 

A Day to Remember – Since U Been Gone (Kelly Clarkson)

A bonus track from the arena pop punk/metalcore crossover crew's 2007 album For Those Who Have Heart. A Day to Remember’s take on Kelly Clarkson’s biggest hit is a pretty faithful run through a properly iconic song...until you get to all the beatdowns, gang vocals and Jeremy McKinnon’s hardcore growls in the second half of the first verse. Sensibly, they’ve left that massive chorus as it was, though. You wouldn’t wanna fuck with something as perfect as that!

Sugar Horse – The Scientist (Coldplay)

The Bristolian blackened shoegaze crew seem to be on a mission to test their own audience with covers of bands that could be...er...let's say “divisive”. They’ve done Bullet The Blue Sky by U2 a few times, and during a live stream crowdfunder for live venue The Exchange in their hometown they decided to take on Coldplay’s 2002 hit The Scientist. If you thought that Chris Martin and his mates were depressing, then you really should hear Sugar Horse turn the song into a bleak, gloomy, goth metal sludger. Nasty.

Ministry – Rehab (Amy Winehouse)

Now this is one of the most insane things you’ll ever hear. Ministry’s cover of Amy Winehouse’s Rehab makes Children of Bodom doing Britney sound positively dull. There are obviously more than a few things connecting the notoriously chemical loving Al Jourgensen with a song about rejecting a clean lifestyle, so it makes sense in that respect. Ultimately, though, where Winehouse’s sublime, personal soul song was a heartbreaking lament, Ministry’s million-miles-per-hour, industrial grinding with Uncle Al bawling at the top of his lungs feels more like a middle finger in the air. Especially when you end with the sound of a can being opened and someone chugging it down in one. Subtlety? Pft, who needs it.

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.