…in a suck contest.
Man, check this out:
Here’s the deal, for those not in the know.Â King Diamond (the dude in the silly hat and the face paint) and his band Mercyful Fate were something of an underground hit back in the day, inspiring such current metal giants as Metallica to do their thing.Â Later, Metallica released a CD of cover tunes, and included a “song” called Mercyful Fate which was really a medley of several Mercyful Fate songs.
The vid is from Ozzfest 2008, where someone decided it would be a good idea to have King Diamond come onstage with Metallica to sing while they played their cover versions of his songs.
Now, let me say right now that I’m a HUGE Metallica fan.Â But I’m not blind to the fact that James Hetfield is a terrible singer–in the studio he can do a thousand takes and they can do their editing magic to make him sound good, but live… well, live it can get a little painful on the ears.Â Normally everybody just overlooks the fact that James can’t sing live because the concert experience is all about the energy and the rocking guitars and hammering drumbeats and much less about the vocals.Â Also, James wisely writes songs that fit comfortably within his tiny vocal range, which is basically “growling in the key of E”.
But when you throw another singer up there, especially one as… unique… as King Diamond, you put the focus squarely on the vocals.Â You bring them front and center.Â Hey, it’s King Diamond singing his tunes with Metallica!Â This should be great!
It’s not.Â King and James spend the next eleven minutes trying to out-awful each other.Â When James tries to sing harmony with King’s erratic falsetto, it borders on comical.Â No, hell with it–it IS comical.Â James Hetfield requires a million takes and fancy editing tools in order to sing harmony with himself in the studio–he sure as fuck can’t pull it off live with a guy who is singing all over the map like King is.Â He wisely gives up after a few tries.
For my money, the height of awful comes near the four minute mark, where they segue into a snippet from “A Corpse Without a Soul” and King and James try to do the echo vocals part together.Â King’s grating falsetto barely even cuts through James’ off-key growling, and it turns into a giant clusterfuck of awful.