AC/DC rules as not just the biggest selling heavy metal act of all time, but also the most popular hard rock group overall in history.
As a result, the sonic mayhem of these Australian wrecking ball riders has reached and bowled over audiences from way beyond the normal realms of their headbanging brethren.
In fact, when a band is huge enough to have once warranted its own department in Wal-Mart—as AC/DC did—they’ve not only been embraced by fans of numerous musical genres, but by musicians as well.
The following ten decidedly non-metal covers of AC/DC songs demonstrate the global appeal and inherent songwriting genius of the group’s ongoing high voltage intoxication that will rock forever, no matter what form it takes.
“It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Want to Rock ‘n’ Roll)” – Rockabye Baby
The Rockabye Baby CD series reinterprets punk, metal, and classic rock anthems into gentle, tinkling tunes perfect for putting the wee ones to bed while planting seeds of monster rock greatness to bloom at a later date. Their AC/DC collection is especially lovely—and loaded with potential future headbanger inspiration.
“If You Want Blood” – Mark Kozelek
Folky alt-rock singer-songwriter Mark Kozelek is best known as the frontman of Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon. In 2000, Kozelek covered three AC/DC tunes (“Rock ‘n’ Roll Singer,” “Bad Boy Boogie,” and “You Ain’t Got a Hold on Me”) on his solo EP, Rock ‘n’ Roll Singer. The following year, Kozelek released What’s Next to the Moon?, an entire LP of AC/DC jams reworked in his gentle, acoustic-based style.
“Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” – Vitamin String Quartet
Sounding clean and expensive, the Vitamin String Quartet imbues “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” and its leering hitman narrative with a classical music spin that somehow unearths the song’s deep-seeded dignity—while also never sacrificing the menace. Who knew?
“Highway to Hell” – Glee
The cast of TV’s high school musical series Glee camps it up with their take on “Highway to Hell,” adding a student body assembly ballet to the presentation. One imagines AC/DC wouldn’t object to pseudo-teenage songbirds flailing about on-stage flames in black leotards.
“Big Balls” – Hayseed Dixie
The very name of Southern-fried acoustic foursome Hayseed Dixie is, in itself, a tribute to AC/DC. It makes sense, then, that their 2001 debut was titled A Hillbilly Tribute to AC/DC. The Hayseeds have continued to cover AC/DC and other hard rockers, as well as issuing Kiss My Grass, wherein The Hottest Band in the Land gets the Dixie redoing.
“Hells Bells” – Gregorian
Gregorian is monumental sight-and-sound project mounted by German music producer Frank Peterson, best known for New Age yoga studio hit-makers Enigma. With Gregorian, Peter oversees a choir of, yes, Gregorian chanters who interpret rock and pop numbers. The stage shows are epic—as is Gregorian’s take on “Hells Bells.”
“Back in Black” – Shakira
Colombian she-wolf Shakira growls, snarls, roars, and wails to hip-shaking effect on her “Back in Black” cover. You’ll never want to let her go again.
“Let There Be Rock” – Eläkeläiset
“Thunderstruck” – Two Cellos
Two Cellos is just that: two guys playing cellos. Other instruments back them on “Thunderstruck,” but the sonic storm they whip up arises purely from the power of a pair of bows dragged across classical wooden music devices with lightning speed and hurricane-force heaviosity.
“You Shook Me All Night Long” – Shania Twain
Country-pop superstar Shania Twain comes by her affection for AC/DC naturally: she was long married to the group’s signature producer, Robert “Mutt” Lange. Shania’s spin is plenty countrified and even though she technically scrubs up some lyrics (changing, for example, “She told me to come” to “I wanted to run, but I was already there”), heat is not a quality Ms. Twain has ever been remiss in communicating. Shania will not only shake you all night long, you’ll feel it all over, too.