Top 10 Most Popular First to Eleven Covers

photo of guitar near river

Since June 2020, I have one cover band in particular that has become a daily part of my life. They are called First to Eleven, a band name based on volleyball of all things. But, not only are they a talented bunch from Erie, Pennsylvania slaying their own takes of popular songs from across the decades, three of them actually started their own band with original music called Concrete Castles!

My obsession with them began after a relatively innocuous search on YouTube for Katy Perry covers (yes, I am a shameless Katy Cat to this day). I found a cover of “E.T.” by a band of youngsters who genuinely impressed me. When it comes to covers, I’m extremely hard to impress. When I discovered just how young they were, barely out of high school, I immediately knew there was a ton of untapped potential here. Fortunately for them, I wasn’t alone in my admiration, and today they have over 1.5 MILLION subscribers on YouTube, plus their rapidly growing following for their original music with Concrete Castles.

If you’re not a Katy Perry fan, don’t fret. Their covers run a wide gamut of genres. Basically, if it ever had play on the radio, there’s a good chance they’ll cover it. Being an alternative rock band at their roots, they offer a fresh take on both recently popular and classic tracks. It’s really cool that many songs that they cover released before three of their band members were even born!

The heart and soul of First to Eleven is their lead singer, Audra Miller. Not only is she an immensely talented singer whose voice continues to develop and age like a fine wine just turned 21 in July of 2022. But, she’s much more than just a pretty face with an amazingly versatile voice. Audra does all her own makeup and style, runs her own personal YouTube channel, and has built a nice little cushion for herself with side gigs. She’s also quite brilliant, as she was the valedictorian of her high school, and was accepted to the University of Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh where she had originally planned to study pharmacology.

But, while many of their peers and a couple of their early bandmates were going off to college, Audra, Matt, and Sam all decided to stay behind and follow their dreams. After all, Ryan had already offered Matt and Sam work, and even at that point the teenagers had already begun to build a small cult following on YouTube. By 2021, they surpassed one million subscribers on Youtube. It’s been a fantastic experience watching them grow up through all the successes and stumbles, with really no outright failures which just proves their talent alone can carry them.

Matt is a very talented guitarist and Sam their drummer is talented in multiple instruments. They are both just a bit older than Audra. Their bassist Ryan, who’s actually a couple years older than me, is actually the owner of their studio and his guitar teaching business has skyrocketed with First to Eleven’s monumental success; he’s not part of Concrete Castles as he still has his business to run and a family to care for. This leaves Concrete Castles without a bassist, but they seem to get along just fine.

All of the members of this band are talented musicians with a future that gets brighter every day. But, now with hundreds of covers available to stream on Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube, it’s hard to know where to start. So, I decided to create a Top 10 Most Popular First to Eleven covers, based on their all-time views on YouTube!

(Note: Some YouTube videos refused to embed, most likely for usage rights reasons, but the link to the video is in the title.)

10) “Bring to Me Life” by Evanescence

Anyone who came of age in the early 2000’s like I did remembers this song quite fondly. So, it’s not much of a surprise that this cover has done so well over the years. Ryan actually offers background vocals on this one and Audra has a jaw-dropping vocal performance. I hate to say it, but I tend to prefer this cover to the original album recording.

9) “November Rain” by Guns N’ Roses

If I were to rank my favorite First to Eleven covers of all time, and I will likely do that some day, this would easily be in my Top 10, if not my Top 5. This track means a lot for different reasons to a lot of different people, so it’s no surprise it’s among the Top 10 viewed. I expect this cover to move up this list over time. It’s also the second of two incredible Slash-like performances for Matt, the first which is also on this list.

8) “Fade to Black” by Metallica

Audra admits personally that she didn’t get to do much in this song, but it’s such a showcase of Matt, Sam, and Ryan’s musical ability that it’s no surprise that this Metallica cover is one of their greatest hits. It’s actually one of two Metallica covers in this top ten, the second of which Audra definitely gets to do plenty with vocally.

7) “Last Christmas” by Wham!/Taylor Swift

First to Eleven’s Christmas covers actually perform extremely well. But, this particular cover of “Last Christmas,” one of the first covers that First to Eleven ever did, along with three of their early band members (with Ryan running the show off camera), is why they do new Christmas material every year. It’s fine, and if nothing else, it shows you how far Audra and Matt have come over the past few years.

6) “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga

I have a complicated history with this song. I actually hated “Poker Face” when it first came out, despite liking many other Lady Gaga songs. I now tolerate it more than anything else, and honestly, this is actually one of my personal LEAST favorite covers by First to Eleven. It’s not bad, and it’s really the fame of this song that catapulted it to this popularity. 

5) “E.T.” by Katy Perry

Of course, this song would be on this Top 10 list! Despite them doing several other Katy Perry songs, this one has outperformed the others by leaps and bounds. This is a particularly strong performance and rockified interpretation of one of Katy’s biggest hits. I’m glad this song was my introduction to them, and I’ve discovered that this was the first cover many current F211 fans first heard.

4) “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica

Probably the best known of all Metallica songs besides “Enter Sandman” (which they have an excellent cover of, as well), “Nothing Else Matters” gives Audra a chance to offer her interpretation of this classic track. It’s to this day one of my favorite vocal performances by Audra, and apparently millions of others agree with that assessment.

3) “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day

One of my all-time favorite Green Day songs, apparently it’s also many others’ favorite, too. This is by far the best Green Day cover they have ever done (as of early 2023) and the vocal performance on this one is particularly chilling and fantastic.

2) “Attention” by Charlie Puth

This is another cover that features three of their old bandmates who left the band for college and only returned for one or two more covers. This is actually a song I never paid much attention (no pun intended) to before I heard this cover. As early as this is, you could see the potential of both Audra and Matt here; Sam was in the background of this cover somewhere.

1) “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N Roses

The number one First to Eleven cover is leaps and bounds above the other nine on this list. As of February 2023 it has a whopping 54 MILLION views on YouTube. Their 2nd most viewed cover in “Attention” is just 11 million. Obviously, Sweet Child O’ Mine is one of the most popular songs of all time, but this cover is just so sublime. It was many people’s introduction to the current lineup of First to Eleven. It deserves all of the attention it got, for sure. It helps that people actually thought Matt was the second coming of Slash, too; it’s a hell of a performance!

There are a few other covers that have found additional success on streaming platforms, especially on Spotify. I may write a separate article on those in the future, as I’m curious to see which covers succeed in streaming where their accompanying music videos didn’t.

If you’re looking for a new band to jam to with a catalog more eclectic than perhaps any cover band in history, First to Eleven would be my first choice.

Who’s your favorite band/artist? I’d love to chat music, as my tastes are highly eclectic!

~ Amelia ❤

Related: Alex Melton and His Genius Alternative Rock Music Covers | “Paralyzed” by Rock Kills Kid – An Underrated Rock Song Review | Why Katy Perry’s “Electric” Was a Shock to My System

Writing words, spreading love, Amelia Desertsong primarily writes creative nonfiction articles, as well as dabbling in baseball, Pokemon, Magic the Gathering, and whatever else tickles her fancy.

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