Metallica joined forces with Miley Cyrus for a performance of “Nothing Else Matters” on The Howard Stern Show on Thursday. The metal legends and the pop star teamed up to promote the new covers compilation The Metallica Blacklist.
On the massive multi-artist compilation, which features 53 covers of the 12 songs on Metallica’s “Black Album,” Miley teamed up with Elton John, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and Metallica’s own Robert Trujillo for a stirring rendition of “Nothing Else Matters.”
For the Howard Stern performance, Metallica let Cyrus take lead vocals, with frontman James Hetfield backing her up during the chorus.
Prior to the performance, the band and Miley discussed “Nothing Else Matters,” with Hetfield admitting he was initially hesitant to bring the ballad to his bandmates. “Late ’80s, we built this reputation of tough guys, we’re made of stone … and this is one of the most vulnerable [songs],” he explained. “The tougher the armor, the bigger the heart you want to show, but you’re afraid to.”
He continued, “I was shocked when [producer] Bob Rock and Lars [Ulrich] both said, ‘That is beautiful. That’s an amazing song.’ It was a life-changing experience to be OK playing this for them, and them accepting it.”
Miley explained that she chose to perform “Nothing Else Matters” at the Glastonbury Festival in 2019, because it was a transitional time in her life, when she was getting a divorce from actor Liam Hemsworth and she had just lost her Malibu home in a wildfire. “This was my first show back, so ‘Nothing Else Matters,’ to me, was about the music. … To hear James say he was afraid of something, and knowing that at that point I was afraid of so much, I was so heartbroken. And my purpose was coming from this performance.”
She added, “I got sober at that time. I really pulled my f**king shit together. And this song was what drove me to that place, because I knew that nothing else mattered. … This is my love letter to music.”
During the appearance on Howard Stern, Elton John surprised the band via Zoom, calling “Nothing Else Matters,” in his opinion, “one of the best songs ever written,” bringing tears to Hetfield’s eyes.
Watch Miley Cyrus and Metallica discuss and perform “Nothing Else Matters” in the clip below.