Within the last few weeks, KoRn and Nickelback released a cover of The Charlie Daniels Band classic “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.” The cover was in honor of the late Charlie Daniels, who died last month. Metal Insider decided to have a headbangers brawl to listen to both tracks back to back to see who covered the hit song better.
Bram Teitelman: I’m laughing at the Nickelback version, which might or might not be the intention. It’s way more metal than Charlie Daniels’ version and KoRn’s. By making it a guitar duel instead of a fiddle, it allows for a ridiculous amount of shredding and some Pantera-like rhythms, and you can tell they’re having fun doing it. Nickelback will continue to undeservedly be a lazy punchline for everything that’s wrong with music, and this probably won’t help, even though it tweaks the original and is well done.
The semi-rapped verses of the original are probably better done by KoRn, and I like the way Jonathan Davis gives Johnny a southern accent. It’s a little too straightforward in my opinion though. I’m not sure the original needed one rock/metal cover, let alone two, but I guess Daniels’ passing needed to be marked somehow. If I had to give a thumbs up to one of them, I’d go with Nickelback.
Matthew Brown: Actually the best cover is by Steve Ouimette from Guitar Hero III. But between these two, I prefer the Nickelback version. It’s a little more energetic and I like how it’s reframed as a guitar duel. I do like Jonathan Davis’s vocal performance on the KoRn version.
Jeff Podoshen: I think they are both dreadful and make the summer of 2020 even worse than it already is. I’d rather watch “Ellen” on tv than listen to either of those again.
Zenae Zukowski: I have to say, the Nickelback cover isn’t that bad. I enjoy the innovative guitar riffs the most. However, I am leaning towards KoRn’s version. They did more of a subliminal sinister approach than Nickelback’s over-the-top-commercial-friendly version. Overall, it’s a tough call. Now I’m thinking about this:
Jeff Podoshen: I mean Nickelback is a commercial band through and through. It’s not like they’re going to win a Guggenheim fellowship any time soon. You know who would have done a great cover of this song? Type O Negative.
Zenae Zukowski: I’m surprised Mariln Manson didn’t cover this song (yet). But, yeah, Type O Negative would have been good 🙁 Another good one would have been Nergal’s Me and That Man.
Elise Yablon: I wouldn’t say either cover was inspiring, but each band did make it their own. Nickelback brought the song from country-rock to hard rock by changing the fiddle out for guitar, even in the lyrics. KoRn’s take was pretty straightforward, though they still managed to make it pretty heavy. The addition of Yelawolf as a second voice to distinguish the characters from the narration in KoRn’s version was a good idea and very much helped with the cadence (the talk-sung aspect of the song actually seems to fit Nickelback’s style better). Nickelback’s version has a bit more personality, but KoRn’s is more put-together. If I have to choose, I might say that I would rather listen to Nickelback’s version.
Mark Zapata: I wouldn’t know that the Nickelback version was actually Nickelback. I think they did a pretty good job of covering the song and making it their own. I’m not a fan of note for note covers, what’s the sense? To me the idea of a cover is to have the band that’s covering the song infuse some of their own energy and creativity to create a new entity. I think both bands accomplished that. I wouldn’t pay for either one of them but if I have to choose it’s Nickelback. I think their version was more interesting and straightforward which is what I prefer for this particular cover song. Why did they both release a cover of the same song? I wonder…
Chris Annunziata: The covers aren’t bad. It’s not something I’d go back and listen to though. Honestly, I had no idea it was Nickelback at first, threw me off a bit. I definitely like KoRn’s version more because of Jonathan’s vocal delivery and that sweet KoRn breakdown near the 2 min mark. Fuckin’ delicious.