Tomorrow sees the release of The Metallica Blacklist, a massive new record that features more than 50 contemporary artists laying down covers of every song off of Metallica, a.k.a The Black Album, a.k.a. the 1991 record that made the group internationally famous and saw Metallica cross over into mainstream success. It’s difficult to overstate just how massive the album and its enduring popularity really are: Not only has it been certified 16 times platinum, it has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide, and still remains the best-selling album in the United States ever since Nielsen began its Soundscan tracking in 1991. Put it this way: Metallica has never sold fewer than a thousand copies a week since it was released 30 years ago. That’s serious staying power.
In honor of that album’s third-decade anniversary, Metallica’s label is putting out this new collections of covers, from a wildly eclectic—sometimes bordering on downright unusual—arrangement of musicians. The 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 pop super-producers The Neptunes. In one of the oddest collaborations, Miley Cyrus teams up with Yo-Yo Ma, Elton John, Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, producer Watt, and Metallica’s own bassist, Robert Trujillo, for a take on “Nothing Else Matters.” And it’s all for a good cause—or causes, rather: All profits from The Metallica Blacklist will be split evenly between Metallica’s All Within My Hands Foundation and 50-plus charities chosen by the artists who play on the album.
Some of these cover versions are tweaked to fit the 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 thrilling reinventions, playing with the melodies and moods of the band’s work to transform the piece into a vibrant new form. One thing’s for sure: 53 cover versions of 12 songs is too damn many. So we sat down and went through each one in painstaking detail, in order to arrive at this: A version of The Metallica Blacklist that only features the best cover of each track, the better to provide an alternative iteration of Metallica. The full listing can be found at the end of our Power Hour below, but these are the musicians that took Metallica’s material and did something great with it.