Of all people to cover Rammstein’s “Du Hast,” not many would guess Lizzo. And yet, at her recent arena show in Berlin, Lizzo busted out a full rendition of the song, finding real joy in the unlikely pairing. For many of the newest generation of stars, hard rock songs like “Du Hast” have been around since their childhood — which might be why Post Malone livestreamed a pandemic set consisting entirely of Nirvana covers back in 2020.
But Lizzo’s recent rendition of “Du Hast” got us thinking: Why don’t pop stars cover heavy songs more often? And who will be the next pop star to channel their heavy metal alter ego? It’s a common move for many hard rock and heavy bands covering pop songs — post-hardcore outfit Our Last Night has been dedicated to covering many Top 40 hits for a decade now — but why does it rarely happen the other way around?
Perhaps our now “genreless” music landscape will allow for more cross-pollination of styles, as seen with hybrid acts like Poppy, Meet Me @ the Altar, and 100 gecs. Maybe one day, Post Malone will fulfill his life long dream of actually fronting a post-hardcore band, and we’ll all laud him for the pivot.
But for now, let’s take a look at 13 times pop stars donned a little more black than usual and covered punk, hard rock, or heavy metal tracks.
— Paolo Ragusa
Lizzo — “Du Hast” (Rammstein Cover)
After debuting an a capella take at the end of February, Lizzo opened March 2023 with a full-band experience. It’s a shame she merely danced to the synth solo instead of busting out the flute, but the end result still got the thumbs up from Rammstein’s Instagram page. How do you say “Twerk” in German? As the video demonstrates, Lizzo is still working on mastering Deutschland’s mother tongue, but shaking ass is universal. — Wren Graves
Post Malone — “Heart Shaped Box” (Nirvana Cover)
Love or hate the auto-crooner, Post Malone does a pretty convincing Kurt Cobain. And while there are plenty of Posty-Nirvana crossovers to choose from — the man did a full 15-song cover set — it’s hard to beat his rendition of “Heart Shaped Box.” He infuses enough grit into his vocal performance to pay respect to the original while throwing on his trademark vibrato to give it a tinge of originality. All the while, he’s nailing the guitar riff in front of Travis Barker, who plays the Dave Grohl to his Cobain. It’s as respectful as it is fun, and it’s a genuinely enjoyable listen. — Jonah Krueger
Miley Cyrus — “Head Like a Hole” (Nine Inch Nails Cover)
Don’t be fooled by her pop star past or her country roots — Miley Cyrus knows how to sing rock and roll. Even better is when she leans into something heavier, like her terrific cover of Nine Inch Nails’ 1989 classic “Head Like a Hole.” Cyrus has often pulled out covers of rock songs in her sets, but this one is a bit of an exception; it was recorded for Cyrus’ Black Mirror episode “Jack, Rachel and Ashley Too,” a story of a pop star longing to play rock songs and suffering from lack of control over her career. “Head Like a Hole,” then, is her moment — both Miley’s and her character, Ashley O’s — to show everyone what she’s truly capable of. — P.R.