The 12 best tracks of his 53 covers

Left to right: Rina Sawayama (Photo: Attitude Magazine via Getty Images), Joe Talbot of IDLES (Photo: Katja Ogrin / Getty Images), Yoon Do-Hyun of YB (Photo: Han Myung-Gu / WireImage / Getty Images) , and Moses Sumney (Photo: Leon Bennett / STA 2020 / Getty Images for BET).  Context: Metallica (Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer / Getty Images)

Left to right: Rina Sawayama (Photo: Attitude Magazine via Getty Images), Joe Talbot of IDLES (Photo: Katja Ogrin / Getty Images), Yoon Do-Hyun of YB (Photo: Han Myung-Gu / WireImage / Getty Images) , and Moses Sumney (Photo: Leon Bennett / STA 2020 / Getty Images for BET). Context: Metallica (Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer / Getty Images)
Graphic: Rebecca Fassola

Tomorrow sees the release of The Metallica Blacklist, a massive new record that features over 50 contemporary artists posing covers of every song from Metallica, aka The Black Album, aka the 1991 record that made the band internationally famous and saw Metallica become a mainstream hit. It’s hard to overstate how massive the album is and its enduring popularity: not only has it been certified 16 times platinum, but it has sold over 30 million copies worldwide and has remained ever since. best-selling album in the United States. Nielsen started his Soundscan monitoring in 1991. In other words: Metallica has never sold less than a thousand copies per week since its release 30 years ago. It’s serious endurance.

In honor of the third anniversary of this album, the Metallica label is releasing this new collection of covers, from an extremely eclectic arrangement of musicians, sometimes bordering on the unusual. Names range from pop stars (Alessia Cara, J Balvin) to fellow headbangers (Off !, YB) to Latin music artists (Juanes, Jose Madero) to rappers (Flatbush Zombies) to indie rockers (Diet Cig) and super pop producers. The Neptunes. In one of the strangest collaborations, Miley Cyrus teams up with Yo-Yo Ma, Elton John, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith, producer Watt and Metallica’s own bassist Robert Trujillo for a rendition of “Nothing Else Matters “. And it is for a good cause, or rather for causes: all the benefits of The Metallica Blacklist will be split evenly between Metallica’s All Within My Hands Foundation and over 50 charities chosen by the artists who perform on the album.

Some of these cover versions are adjusted to suit artists’ preferred styles of music. Others are downright faithful recreations of the original. (Would it surprise anyone to learn that Weezer chose sonic fidelity?) But some are exciting reinventions, playing with the melodies and moods of the band’s work to transform the track into a vibrant new form. One thing is certain: 53 covers of 12 songs is too much. So we sat down and went through each one in great detail, in order to come up with this: A version of The Metallica Blacklist which only presents the best cover of each track, to better provide an alternate iteration of Metallica. The full list can be found at the end of our Power Hour below, but it was the musicians who took the material from Metallica and made it into something right.

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