"Nothing Else Matters" is a song by American heavy metal band Metallica. It was released in 1992 as the third single from their self-titled fifth studio album, Metallica. The song peaked at number 11 on the BillboardMainstream Rock Tracks chart, number 6 on the UK Singles Chart, number 1 in Denmark, and reached the top ten on many other European charts. "Nothing Else Matters" was featured as a playable track in the music video game Guitar Hero: Metallica. Recognized as one of Metallica's best known and most popular songs, the power ballad has become a staple in live performances.
Lead singer and rhythm guitarist James Hetfield wrote the song (credited to Hetfield/Ulrich) in 1990 while on tour, when Hetfield "was bumming out about being away from home." Initially, the song was not meant to be released, as Hetfield had written it for himself, but after drummer Lars Ulrich heard it, it was considered for the album. Hetfield initially had reservations about presenting the song to the band: "I thought that Metallica could only be the four of us. These are songs about destroying things, head banging, bleeding for the crowd, whatever it is, as long as it wasn't about chicks and fast cars, even though that's what we liked. The song was about a girlfriend at the time. It turned out to be a pretty big song." It was one of four demo songs recorded by the band on August 13, 1990.
Its intro is an E minor arpeggio (transposed one half-step lower on stage performances) beginning with the open low E followed by the open G, B and high E strings.
It is one of the few Metallica songs in which Hetfield plays the guitar solo. Guitarist Kirk Hammett does not play on the studio recording, making it one of the few in the whole Metallica repertoire, along with Cliff Burton's "(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth", in which he does not appear. Hammett stated he did not learn how to play the song until they were well into the tour for the album.
The orchestral arrangements were written by award-winning composer Michael Kamen, who would later go on to collaborate with the group on S&M.
The music video premiered on MTV on February 26, 1992. It was directed by Adam Dubin and edited by Sean Fullan. The clip consists of parts of the A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica documentary, which was shot during the recordings of Metallica. One of them shows Hetfield playing a Gibson EDS-1275 guitar during the second chorus. MTV will not air the video during daytime hours anymore because it features nudity in the form of pin-up posters and Playboy centerfolds that are taped up in the studio. It also has a picture of Winger's Kip Winger which Ulrich is seen throwing darts at. On the band's 2006 music video compilation DVD, the posters are censored, as was done with the nudity featured in the music videos for "Turn the Page" and "Whiskey in the Jar".
In August 2021, the music video hit one billion views on YouTube, making it Metallica's first music video to do so.
For its appearance on S&M, its orchestration was arranged by Michael Kamen conducting the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. This live version is featured on the album S&M. It was also released as the single "Nothing Else Matters '99", which included the b-sides "-Human", and the S&M version of "For Whom the Bell Tolls", on November 22, 1999. This version was also played with guitars tuned to E♭.
There is also an acoustic remix of "Nothing Else Matters" that is called "Elevator Version", with no electric guitars (replaced by acoustic guitars, even for the solo), Kamen's orchestrations, and Hetfield's voice only; it appears as the B-side to "Sad but True".
An instrumental version of "Nothing Else Matters" appears on the soundtrack of the 2021 film Jungle Cruise. The band collaborated with the film's composer James Newton Howard to record a new orchestral arrangement of the song for the film.
On January 7, 2021, it was announced that Miley Cyrus would be releasing a cover version that would feature Elton John on piano, drummer Chad Smith from Red Hot Chili Peppers, current Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo and cellistYo-Yo Ma. Cyrus also announced in October 2020 that she plans to release a full album of Metallica covers. Cyrus previously covered "Nothing Else Matters" during her 2019 set at Glastonbury. The cover, produced by Andrew Watt, was released on June 22, 2021, as a promotional single from Metallica's tribute album The Metallica Blacklist, released on September 10. The video for this version was uploaded the same day on Cyrus' YouTube channel. The cover is also featured on John's album The Lockdown Sessions, which released on October 22.