10 Non Heavy-Metal Singers Metallica Should Have Worked With Instead of Lou Reed
November 11th, 2011 at 8:15pm

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Alright, we all know at this point that the Lulu/Loutallica thing is a giant, awful disaster. Cold Lake whiffed a bit around the armpits, but Lulu is a corpse that has been out in the Alabama sun for three days. The sad thing is, Metallica has a wealth of great non-metal singers to choose from, and yet they still went with, as the Reverend Campbell over at Metalreview called him, a ‘zombified raisin’.

Here are 10 non-heavy metal singers I’d rather that Metallica worked with. Since these metal/non-metal team-ups have all the potential for greatness and disaster as any superhero crossover, I’ve estimated the likelihood of a total train wreck and the likelihood that the collaboration would ever happen.

10. Henry Rollins: This one is the most obvious on this list. I’d love to hear Rollins’ snarl and lyrical insights over top of some vintage Metallica riffs. Hetfield’s voice is no longer distinctive and his lyrics . . . well, we’ll not dwell on that.

Chance of this happening: 10%. Rollins is probably not a fan of Metallica or most modern heavy metal bands.

Chance of a total train-wreck: 90%. Rollins is not a meek, passive person. Lars and James have a creative chokehold on Metallica. I just cannot see the individuals involved in this getting along, but we can always hope, right? Also, Rollins will deliver; Metallica is the weakest link.

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9. Brian Johnson: Of all the potential collaborations on this list, this one excites me the most. Ideally, we’d get Painkiller—Johnson takes the microphone and assumes a Halford-esque role as lead banshee, Metallica finally finds a drummer, and Hammett and Hetfield are revitalized, making one of the finest records of their career. Worst case scenario is that they make a derivative but competent hard rock record.

Chance of this happening: 75%. I really can see this collaboration occurring. It just feels right.

Chance of a total train-wreck: 15% Again, worst case scenario here is an inoffensive rock record. Nobody dies, no one’s career ends, we don’t get a Lulu.

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8.Robert Smith: I like to call this the Sadboy Project. James Hetfield already kind of looks like a pink, fleshy tattooed Hulk. Combine him with Smith and you’d get the Sulk. I wouldn’t have this collaboration work towards an original record. No, I’d have it be all covers, half Cure songs, half sad Metallica songs.

Chance of this happening: 1%. I give this collaboration a 1% chance only because all of the parties involved are among the living.

Chance of a total train-wreck: 50% The resulting covers album would have 1 to 2 huge successes, 1 to 2 solid efforts, and the rest would be total cringers.

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7.Johnny Rotten: What I’d hope for is vintage, snarling, pissy Rotten vocals over some decent thrash. No fancy solos, no complicated drumming, no pretensions. Just plug in, and let rip.

Chance of this happening: Wildcard. Johnny Rotten has made a career out of either not doing what people wanted, doing exactly what they didn’t want or expect, or being a cranky jackass and making up a reason to justify his behavior. He might work with Metallica just because he thinks that nobody else thinks that he would actually do it. He might decide they are all a bunch of stupid cunts and tell them to fuck off. However, he’s on record as saying that he did the Sex Pistols reunions entirely for the money. If somebody threw enough cash at him, he’d do this in a heartbeat.

Chance of a total train-wreck: 100%. Anybody who’s ever read or listened to a Rotten interview knows why this would be a total disaster. The circus surrounding the project would dwarf the musical results. Absolute best-case scenario is that a great record happens, and then afterwards, Rotten calls Metallica a bunch of stupid cunts, tells them to fuck off, and states that he always knew the record would be a piece of shit. (He only says this because it’s actually pretty good, and he must do what nobody expects.)

(Actually, he might say he liked it, because everybody thought he would say it was a piece of shit, but then he’d say he only did the record for money.)

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6.Janis Joplin: Janis Joplin used her voice like a weapon, assaulting the listener with every raw, scratchy decibel she could muster. Forget an original record, I just want to hear Joplin grinding out some old Metallica numbers. Metallica was all testosterone and muscle. Joplin was their female equivalent.

Chance of this happening: 0%. Janis Joplin is dead.

Chance of a total train-wreck: 100%. Musically, I think this is by far the team-up on the list with the best chance of success. Let’s not kid ourselves, though. Hetfield has an alcohol problem, and Janis Joplin loved her SoCo.

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5.Bjork: Bjork possesses one of the most distinct voices and singing styles on the planet. Her total inability to do anything conventional in a recording studio means that the result of Metallica and Bjork would be totally unpredictable. Would Bjork moan into a microphone while the band threw things around the studio? Would we get Icelandic dance thrash with dueling Hetfield-Bjork vocals? James Hetfield imitating Bjork’s little girl vocals over Ulrich-supplied xylophone beats, and Hammett noodling endlessly on a poorly tuned 12-string guitar?

Chance of this happening: 35%. This collaboration at least has a chance of happening. Bjork’s weirder than a furry convention, plus she once fronted two Icelandic bands, KUKL and the Sugarcubes, that had punk elements in their music. She might like the idea of working with Metallica.

Chance of a total train-wreck: Bjork’s involvement makes this a total unknown. It should be said, however, that Bjork has approximately 37 billion times the songwriting skill at this stage in her career than Metallica does.

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4.Mikael Akerfeldt (Opeth) – Do you like Porcupine Tree? I do. Anyway, I heard about this prog band called Opeth that just released their debut album, and I also heard that it kinda sounded like Porcupine Tree. I listened to it on the Internet, and couldn’t help but wonder what it would sound like if Mr. Akerfeldt fronted a metal band instead of Opeth. He doesn’t sound like he can do metal vocals, though. What would it sound like if somebody blended ’70s prog with various genres of metal?

Chance of this happening: 1%. Mr. Akerfeldt hasn’t shown any real interest in playing heavy metal, and most of his influences are musty old prog-rock records. Metallica already went through their technical, progressive phase and decided that lots of money > interesting songs.

Chance of a total train-wreck: 50%. Prog has worked well with thrash, death metal and black metal, but I don’t think Metallica has the chops to pull it off anymore. If they allow Mr. Akerfeldt to do the songwriting, things might turn out ok.

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3.Toby Keith: Toby Keith exemplifies ever . . . excuse me, I just . . . urck . . .

. . . ok, I’m sorry. I had to vomit a little. Toby Keith exemplifies everything that is wrong with country music. Metallica used to write songs like “For Whom The Bell Tolls”, “One”, and “Disposable Heroes”. They weren’t exactly prone to statements like, “Cause we’ll put a boot in your ass, it’s the American Way”. In recent years, Metallica has played concerts for American troops. I’m not saying that it is wrong, and I’m not saying that it is right. I just want to know how they mentally reconcile lyrics like: “Soldier boy, made of clay / Now an empty shell / Twenty one, only son / But he served us well / Bred to kill, not to care / Just do as we say” while performing in front of thousands of American soldiers.

One of two things would happen here: Metallica comes out and says ‘guys, we were totes kidding when we wrote stuff like “One”‘, or Lars Ulrich speaks for the band and weaves a tangled web of illogic while trying to explain how “Disposable Heroes” is really about the sacrifices our soldiers make for him. Either way, we’d finally know the truth.

Chance of this happening: 50%. Toby Keith has a giant man-crush on whatever he thinks America is supposed to be. Metallica likes the troops. That alone is enough for his Keithness to shove ‘Tallica into his hellish mental construct of ‘Murica. Once his Keithness realizes ‘Tallica is ‘Murican, they’ll all get together and jam. Hopefully nobody remembers that Lars is from Germany (joke) and tries to find it on an atlas.

Chance of a train-wreck: “I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place”.

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2.Helios Creed (Chrome/Helios Creed): Bjork is to singing what Helios Creed is to bizarre, outlandish vocal effects. Mind you, Helios Creed’s music isn’t exactly conventional, either. This could go two ways: Helios lays down some synths, keyboards, and bizarro vocals over Metallica classics, or Helios and Hetfield and co. write an original record unlike anything we’ve ever heard. Either way, Lulu happens in someone else’s skein of reality.

Chance of this happening: 25%. I say 25% assuming Metallica knows who Helios Creed is and that Helios Creed is currently somewhere in the Orion spiral arm of this galaxy. I can see this working, though. Creed has a thing for distorted guitars and harsh music.

Chance of a total train-wreck: 80%. Neither Helios nor Metallica are at the height of their songwriting prowess. It’s possible that an infusion of fresh creative blood into both parties would result in something magical, however.

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1.Maria Callas: One of my college music professors told me that Maria Callas was the greatest soprano of the last century, with a voice unlike any other. She was right. Modern critics debate whether Callas was any good after about 1957 following massive weight loss, but I’m not musically sensitive enough to notice a difference. Callas had a piercing tone unlike anything I’ve ever heard. Distinct doesn’t begin to describe it; Callas was often said to have ‘a great big ugly voice’. If we could sum up heavy metal in just five words, we could search the heavens and earth and never find five more fitting than ‘a great big ugly voice’.

Chance of this happening: 0%. The world was deprived of a massive talent in 1977 when Callas passed away due to a heart attack.

Chance of a total train-wreck: 99%. Look, I love heavy metal, but putting one of classical music’s greatest voices in front of a thrash band is blasphemy. Callas would be restrained to short vocal phrases and a holding a few high notes here and there. This team-up would be like putting a Top Fuel engine in a VW Beetle: hugely impressive, but too much motor, not enough car, ultimately a massive disappointment, and totally unfair to both parties.

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