| Metal! |

82-Year-Old Coloradan Stuns America's Got Talent With Drowning Pool Cover

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

It ain't always sunny in Colorado, and not every octogenarian karaokes to Frank Sinatra. On Tuesday night's season premiere of America's Got Talent, 82-year-old John Hetlinger proved both of those points with his audition.

Hetlinger, of Broomfield, took the stage before the studio audience and the panel of celebrity judges, including Simon Cowell, who asked a series of innocuous questions about the contestant's background. Hetlinger, a former Navy pilot who worked in aerospace engineering and was program manager of the instrument that repaired the Hubble Telescope, said that he started singing karaoke when he retired about fifteen years ago.

While the panel of judges smiled panderingly at Hetlinger's hiked-up khakis and toucan-emblazoned collared shirt, he cued the band. His performance — of hard-rock band Drowning Pool's 2001 hit "Bodies" — made jaws, well, hit the floor. (And Nick Cannon's face look like this.)

Watch Hetlinger's performance below.

We're not sure why Hetlinger chose "Bodies" for his debut performance on national TV (but if we find out, we'll tell you), but associations with the song have a somewhat complicated and controversial history. It remains the biggest hit for the band Drowning Pool, which continues despite its original vocalist's death in 2002 (not long after the song and band rose to fame). It's a track that often pops up on playlists of active U.S. military. The song has also been associated with its use during interrogations at the Guantánamo Bay detention camps and the 2011 shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford, to which the band issued a statement saying, "'Bodies' was written about the brotherhood of the mosh pit and was never about violence."

We would bet that Hetlinger chose the song for its dissonance with his appearance and the shock value rather than those controversies, but in any case, he performed the heavy-metal hit with verve, personality and vocal variation. 

America's Got Talent airs on NBC.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.