A group of kid musicians have turned the iconic System of a Down hit “Chop Suey” into a Christian metal song, and … it’s a little weird, to say the least.
The video was funded by the O’Keefe Music Foundation, a nonprofit organization that has done an incredible job of producing high-quality performances featuring aspiring young musicians. We’ve previously reported on impressive covers of Metallica’s “Seek & Destroy”, Pantera’s “Walk”, and more songs on the foundation’s YouTube channel.
Taylor Jade Campbell, an 8-year-old singer who last year rocked Slipknot’s “The Devil and I”, returns to lead a band of teenagers on “Chop Suey”. However, this time the lyrics have been changed, courtesy of Diane O’Keefe (a member of the O’Keefe Music Foundation team), turning the song into an ode to Christian faith.
Musically, the backing band, aged 14 to 16, does a fine job on the instrumentals of the intricate metal track. Little Taylor is tasked with matching Serj Tankian’s rapid-fire verses, which is no easy job for an 8-year-old, but she gets an A for effort.
It’s the lyrics that add an element of cringe to the cover. While there are religious references in the 2001 song, this “Christian metal” version, as it is called in the YouTube description, has “forsaken” the original tune, beginning with the revamped opening line, “Wake up/ I praise the lord with every breath I take up/ Forgive the sins I know I gotta make up/ Like stealing all the cookies on the table/ I try my best to do as I am able.”
Later on, the song’s original melodic line “I don’t think you trust / In, my, self righteous suicide / I, cry, when angels deserve to die” is changed to “That day on the mountain side / Helpless and crucified / Arms, wide, you took up your cross and died.”
While it’s always great to see young kids playing hard rock and metal music, it’s hard to imagine System of a Down being on board with this version of the song. The track, when it came out as the lead single on the band’s masterful Toxicity album, was revolutionary on rock radio for both its distinctive music and thought-provoking lyrical content.
It’s understandable that there may have been concern over the kids performing the song with its original words, but purifying the lyrics doesn’t seem quite right. Maybe “Aerials” would’ve been a better choice?
Meanwhile, System of a Down have had their own polarizing experiences within the band in recent years. They’ve admitted to creative differences when explaining why they haven’t released a new album since 2005’s Hypnotize. And, politically, the liberal-leaning Tankian and right-wing drummer John Dolmayan have shared opposite views on recent events, although Tankian insists that Dolmayan is still his ally and friend.
Watch the kids performing the “Christian metal” version of “Chop Suey” below.