This is Flashback, where we’re reminiscing about some of the most iconic and obscure moments in alt-rock history. This week, we’re looking at when Avril Lavigne covered Metallica’s “Fuel” for their MTV Icon special.
From 2001 to 2004, MTV ran a series of tribute specials known as MTV Icon in which they honored famed musicians by having younger, contemporary artists cover their work. Over the years, the network featured acts including Aerosmith, the Cure, and Janet Jackson, and for the 2003 iteration, they recognized Metallica.
For the Metallica MTV Icon, acts ranging from Korn to Snoop Dogg covered the metal heroes — as did the pop-punk princess, Avril Lavinge. The singer-songwriter was just 18-years-old at the time and still coming off the 2002 release of her debut album Let Go — but she traded in her alt-rock sound to go heavier and grungier by taking on “Fuel” for the special.
To perform the song off the band’s 1997 album Reload, Lavinge sung in a deeper register, yelled a bit more than she was used to, and totally rocked out on stage, joined by a ripping band. During the special, you can see Metallica themselves in the audience, head-banging and air-drumming along to the set. And afterwards, MTV even asked for their thoughts on the performance — which Lars Ulrich called “great” and a “mind fuck.” James Hetfield added, “Pretty interesting to hear my lyrics sung by a female — not bad.”
Not bad is right. Watch a clip of the performance below.