The rise of 11-year-old YouTube prodigy Nandi Bushell has been one of the most entertaining sensations of the pandemic. A multi-instrumentalist who plays drums, guitar, and sings, Bushell’s musicianship is always on point.
She has covered heavy bands like Slipknot and Rage Against the Machine on her channel, showcasing a diverse taste in music and an acute talent for playing it. Often the musicians themselves will applaud the young UK phenom after she drops a new cover.
Combined with a big smile and infectious laugh, Bushell’s skills have made her a viral phenomenon. So much so that she engaged in a headline-making drum battle with none other than Dave Grohl in 2020, giving music fans a a bit of refreshing news during a time in which bands were forced off the road.
But it wasn’t an overnight success: Nandi has definitely put in the work. Some of her earliest YouTube videos see her hammering out drum patterns at age six alongside her dad, who plays guitar. Gradually, Bushell started covering more and more complex material. Now, she’s a bona fide virtuoso.
Following last month’s announcement that Bushell is Cartoon Network’s first-ever musician-in-residence, we’re looking back at 10 of Nandi’s greatest musical moments thus far.
System of a Down – “Chop Suey”
If Bushell has an instrument of choice, it’s the drums. It was the first instrument she can be seen playing on her YouTube channel, and her version of System of a Down’s “Chop Suey” was one of her first drum covers to break 100,000 views. Even more impressive, she was only 7 years old at the time it was uploaded. It’s one of the earliest examples of Nandi’s abilities.
The White Stripes – “Seven Nation Army”
Early on, Bushell jammed a lot with her dad, who appears less on camera these days. The duo’s ripping version of The White Stripes’ classic “Seven Nation Army” became Nandi’s earliest video to top 1 million views. The perfect track to jam with dad, considering the original only featured Jack and Meg White, and you can already see Nandi’s chops getting tighter and more professional.
Led Zeppelin – “Immigrant Song”
One of the coolest things to observe about Bushell’s videos is how she has picked up different instruments along the way. Her musical journey may have began with drums and guitars, but now she’s dabbling with looping devices and electronics. For her recent cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”, she didn’t need anyones help, instead using to the looper to create a full backing track for her solo performance.
Blur – “Song 2”
She can also play full-band versions the hard way, tracking every instrument separately like with her cover of Blur’s seminal “Song 2”. Here, Nandi picks up each instrument and builds her cover track by track, stacking overdubs and filming each recording to create a quartet of herself in the video. It’s the classic “quarantine covers” format executed to perfection.
Slipknot – “Duality”
Nandi’s most recent video at the time of this article, this drum cover of Slipknot’s “Duality” is proof of just how far she’s come over the years. She’s mastered Joey Jordison’s double-kick pedal action and recreates the chaotic drum parts with ease. All while wearing a mask in proper Slipknot fashion. Even current Slipknot drummer Jay Weinberg had to tip his hat to Bushell, giving her props on Twitter: “Always crushing it!”
Muse – “Hysteria”
Alternative arena rockers Muse might not seem like the kind of band to peruse YouTube covers of their songs, but even the British band had to acknowledge Nandi’s drum cover of “Hysteria”. She later learned the song’s infectious bass line, which proved particularly challenging. “I had to concentrate A LOT!” she wrote. The practice paid off, with Muse’s Matt Bellamy sending her a signed print after he saw the cover.
Queens of the Stone Age – “No One Knows”
One of Bushell’s first videos to gain our attention here at Consequence was her snappy drum cover of “No One Knows” by Queens of the Stone Age. She nails Grohl’s hyper catchy boom-bap drumming while adding a bit her own personality to the performance. Not only did she get the approval of the band, but Grohl would also take notice, leading to an ongoing friendly rivalry between the two talented percussionists.
Metallica – “Enter Sandman”
Early in her YouTube career, Bushell laid down a drum cover of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”. However, she really turned heads when she picked up the guitar and played the iconic riffage from the seminal 1990 single, as well. Notching one of her biggest endorsements to date, Bushell was congratulated on the cover by Kirk Hammett himself, forever solidifying Nandi’s heavy metal cred.
Them Crooked Vultures – “Dead End Friends”
Bushell and Grohl became the ultimate drumming duo during the pandemic. They composed theme songs for one another, engaged in an epic drum battle — which Bushell won — and knocked out this awesome dueling drum version of Them Crooked Vultures’ “Dead End Friends” in the process. Grohl would concede defeat afterward, and Bushell basked in the glory in a celebratory video response.
Rage Against the Machine – “Guerrilla Radio”
One of the biggest highlights of Bushell’s viral takeover came when she covered Rage Against the Machine’s “Guerrilla Radio” in June 2020. She played the cover in support of Black Lives Matter during the George Floyd protests, and politically active Rage guitarist Tom Morello took note. Not only did Morello compliment Nandi’s spot-on cover, on which she played every instrument, but he even gifted her his signature Fender Soul Power Stratocaster., which she promptly used to cover Audioslave’s “Cochise”.