Fans are angry over how MGK covered this System of a Down song


Courtesy of Howard Stern

Ell Samara, Graphic designer

Machine Gun Kelly, the rap musician turned pop-punk artist, appeared on the Howard Stern Show on March 30, to perform “Aerials” by System of a Down. The band System of a Down or SOAD, was a nu metal band that began in 1998, with their most famous song being “Chop Suey.” They had five albums in total and the band broke up after the fifth. Now they have been touring with the band Korn, appearing as their opening act. 

The song “Aerials” was featured on the band’s second album titled Toxicity as one of their singles. It hit number one on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks charts as well as number one on the Hot Modern Rock Tracks charts, in 2002. It is safe to say many SOAD fans hold this song dear, as it was the band’s first number one hit. So to have an up-and-coming artist cover such a famous song is a lot of pressure, and many fans think Kelly did not do it justice. They don’t understand what went wrong in his performance.

The band’s bassist, Shavo Odadjian, posted a snippet of his performance and the fan’s reactions were anything but pleasant. Philip Trapp from Loudwire wrote in his article “Machine Gun Kelly Covers System of a Down’s Aerials on The Howard Stern Show” that, “Kelly showed awareness that he doesn’t possess the vocal prowess of System of a Down’s Serj Tankian.” 

Serj Tankian is the lead vocalist for SOAD, and while Tankian and Kelly share a similar range, Tankian is regarded as one of the best metal vocalists. His vocal range spans “4.2 octaves”, said a study from VVN Music. The highest that Tankian’s range can hit is an E6, E♭6, and a D6 which are high notes to reach.

Kelly, on the other hand, sings more in his lower range. Which differs from Tankian, who sings in the higher part of his range. While Tankian and Kelly can hit notes like D3, which would be classified as moderately low, he can hit an E♭2, which is a significantly low note. 

It is very apparent from Kelly’s cover that the song was out of his range, which is why his singing was either completely out of key or a lower octave than the instrumental itself. Kelly had also previously covered a song that was out of his range, so much so he had to lower his singing and the instrumental down an octave. Still, even though it was an octave lower, he could not manage to hit any set notes, which some fans found to be displeasing. 

Kelly and the singer Willow, who collaborated on the song “Emo Girl”, which has also been the center of internet mockery, was set at D# major, with lower octaves. This shows that Kelly does not have the range or talent that Takian possesses. 

For as long as Kelly has been in the limelight, he has had a taste for controversy. For example, old tweets of him at 19 resurfaced talking about how attractive young girls were. However, this controversy may show that Kelly shouldn’t attempt musical adventures if his vocal range cannot live up to the song.