Tech journalists and social commentators can debate the merits of social media until the cows come home but surely everyone can agree that such platforms have helped us find answers to life’s most urgent questions...
Well, for that last one we’d have to hand you over to Kyle Norris, a guitarist on TikTok who has amassed a huge following with his costumed repurposing of rock and metal guitar standards to answer such hypotheticals.
If you ever wanted to live in an alternate universe in which Kirk Hammett and Marty Friedman duke it out in a cover of Mötley Crüe’s Dr Feelgood, or in which Jimmy Page joins Oasis, well, Norris’ TikTok feed is a good a surrogate as you’ll get on this earthly plane. And somehow, this all makes sense musically.
Like when he cosplays as Prince circa-Purple Rain to rework the Nothing Else Matters solo to make lend the Black Album a vibe that’s more doves crying than wolf and man, and perhaps to draw our attention to the parallels between Hammett and the late Prince Rogers Nelson’s lead guitar styles.
Both share an appreciation for the recorded works of Jimi Hendrix. There’s a creative kinship there in the phrasing and tone, the garrulous squawk, the unpredictability (though you could argue that unpredictability is undercut by the knowledge that there will be a wah pedal involved somewhere in the mix).
For his part, Norris leans on his trusty PRS Custom 24 for the Prince parts, a cutaway Fender acoustic electric guitar for his James Hetfield, and the Los Angeles-based guitarist isn’t going to win a prize for the wigs, but it’s all in the editing – cutting from a Hetfield in shock to a bored Hammett then to Prince in full dynamite showman mode.
So far, Norris’ Prince in Metallica video has clocked up over 1.1 million views, which is kind of nuts. But if we’re talking social media metrics and Metallica, what is really nuts is that the official Nothing Else Matters video has clocked up 1.2 billion views – remarkable. "Siri, show me the definition of a breakout hit from a band that was hitherto the preserve of metal's underground."
You can follow Kyle Norris on TikTok for more imagined collaborations. It's probably the only place you'll find a Billie Eilish x Mick Mars mash-up. Though if you are looking for real-world, no cosplay collaborations featuring Kirk Hammett, his jam with Neal Schon on Journey's Wheel In The Sky is hard to beat.