Grammy-winning metal band System of a Down is best known for hair-raising hits such as “B.Y.O.B.” and “Aerials,” and now — thanks to America’s Got Talent contestant Phillip Bowen’s stunning violin cover of “Chop Suey!” on the show’s season premiere on Tuesday (May 30) — the world can enjoy an impressive reimagining of one of the band’s most beloved classics.
Owning the stage with just his violin and a forest green baseball cap, the season 18 hopeful ripped through a rendition of “Chop Suey!” that retained the verve of System of a Down’s original. The band’s seminal hit peaked No. 76 on the Billboard Hot 100 back in 2002, and earned the California rockers their first Grammy nomination, for best metal performance.
More from Billboard
Bowen punctuated his performances with bits of audience banter including “I got it!” and “Let’s Go!” His energy — both as a personality and a performer — was palpable, adding another layer of entertainment to his audition.
The most beautiful moment of Bowen’s performance, however, occurs just as his cover reaches the first intensity peak in “Chop Suey!” As he begins to get more visibly comfortable and lose himself in the music, the camera cuts to his proud mom crying tears of happiness in the audience. By the end of his performance, the audience rewarded Bowen with a fervent standing ovation, while the judges unanimously decided to advance the West Virginia native to the next round.
To date, System of a Down has earned five Hot 100 hits, including “B.Y.O.B.” (No. 27), “Hypnotize” (No. 57) and “Toxicity” (No. 70). The band has also charted five projects on the Billboard 200, including Toxicity, Mezmerize and Hypnotize, all of which have reached the summit.
Best of Billboard