Southeast Desert Metal share cover of Midnight Oil’s ‘Beds Are Burning’ with chorus sung in Arrernte language

The Northern Territory metal band have shared the cover in recognition of NAIDOC Week

Northern Territory metal band Southeast Desert Metal have released a cover of Midnight Oil‘s signature song ‘Beds Are Burning’, performing the chorus in Arrernte language.

The cover, released today (July 6), has been shared as part of NAIDOC Week, a yearly celebration of Indigenous culture within Australia. The band have described their version as “perhaps the most Australian version of the most Australian song ever written”. Along with the different arrangement and the Arrernte chorus, the band have also tweaked several lyrics – including changing “It belongs to them” to “It belongs to us”.

The band have also shared a music video for the cover, which depicts them driving through the desert and performing the song on a plain – a reference to the original ‘Beds Are Burning’ music video. Watch the clip below:


Southeast Desert Metal hail from Santa Teresa, also known as the Ltyentye Apurte community, in the Northern Territory. The four-piece bill themselves as “the most isolated heavy metal band in the world”. They have released two studio albums to date: a self-titled album in 2015, and 2018’s ‘Break The Silence’. An as-yet-untitled third album is scheduled for release later in 2022.

Midnight Oil originally released ‘Beds Are Burning’ in August 1987 as the second single from their sixth album ‘Diesel And Dust’. It was the band’s biggest international hit, topping the charts in Canada and New Zealand while also reaching the Top Ten in Australia, France, the Netherlands and the UK.

The song has been covered several times over the years, by artists as diverse as Julia Stone, Comeback Kid and Amanda Palmer. In February, the song was covered by Awolnation with guest vocalist Tim McIlrath of Rise Against.

While Southeast Desert Metal’s lead singer and guitarist Chris Wallace told the ABC he was unsure what Midnight Oil’s Peter Garrett would make of the cover, he hoped to meet the frontman one day. “It would be an honour,” he said.