Something’s rotten in the state of popular music. Nu-metal, the skidmark that appeared in the late 90s, is staging a comeback. To wit: Korn are resurrecting the Family Values Tour, a horrendous marrying of nu-metal and hip-hop that kicked off in 1998 and saw Method Man and Red Man share a bill with Staind, and Ice Cube alongside Limp Bizkit. At this year’s Reading & Leeds festivals, System Of A Down and Deftones were high up the bill and drew significant crowds. And Limp Bizkit are back with a new album and somehow persuaded Lil Wayne to join them on a turd of a song called ‘Ready To Go’ earlier this summer.
The popularity of nu-metal dramatically deteriorated when music started getting better in the early 00s. Let’s face it: guitar music was pretty shoddy at the turn of the century until The Strokes came along and washed it all away. In its place, nu-metal became insanely popular – stomach this, Linkin Park’s ‘Hybrid Theory’ is the fastest selling debut of the 21st century – but only because guitar music was in the doldrums. Now, like cockroaches crawling out of a log after a long winter, these bands are rearing their baseball-cap-clad heads, clawing for a revival.
Earlier this week Al Horner asked whether the genre was really all that bad and shared fond memories of watching Slipknot’s Corey Taylor vomit at Download. Try listening to Slipknot these days without puking. Here’s 10 reasons why nu-metal was the worst genre of all time and should definitely not be resurrected.
Rap and metal = crap
If there’s one thing worse than pure nu-metal, it’s nu-metal with rapping. Blame Anthrax, who combined hip-hop with heavy metal for their EP ‘I’m The Man’ in 1987. Rick Rubin’s also guilty for a blind spot that caused him to work with Linkin Park among others. Combining nu-metal with hip-hop was like hiring David Hasselhoff to play Tony Montana: the world’s lamest genre with the world’s coolest. And it wasn’t without its casualties…
Sucked other bands into the shitstorm
In 2000 Cypress Hill released ‘Skull & Bones’. Unfortunately ‘Bones’ was a disc of rap-metal songs featuring Everlast, Deftones and Rage Against The Machine, showed up by the hip-hop side of the CD, ‘Skull’. We all make mistakes but some are unforgivable; the music sounds just as bad today as it ever did. See also Jay Z’s nadir working with Linkin Park on that godawful ‘Encore/Numb’ hybrid.
“I hate my daddy wah wah I’m drowning do you know how it feels to be face down in a rotting corpse drownin’ in blood so ashamed of who I am I hate you I fucking hate you bitch I’ll suck you should’ve kept my pants on mummy was a fucking bitch I’m dying I’m crying you don’t know what it’s like wah wah wah wah”
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The fashion choices
Where to start? First it’s got to be those beards, a shaven face bar the butt of a hamster perched on the end of a chin or an unraveled wire wool scrubber. It was a nu-metal prerequisite to have something foul going on in the facial hair department. On top of that we had frosted highlights, baseball caps, oversized sports shirts, white socks pulled up to the knee and over-styled greasy hair. If you still think it was a good time for style, I’ve got one word for you: culottes.
Quite apart from the try-hard raps that make up much of nu-metal, the voices they put on were really the pits. Trent Reznor once likened the sound to singers competing over who could sound the most like the Cookie Monster from Sesame Street. Whining, desperate, pained, angsty, emo mopes that sounded like a dog caught in a trap. Mixed with lyrics about teenage alienation and earnest loathing, sung by men well out of their teens, it’s almost too much to bear.
‘Human Waste Project’? ‘Defenestration’? ‘Mushroomhead’??
A lot of nu-metal lyrics are really gross, depicting women as mere sex objects. The lyrics to Korn’s ‘Kunt’ for example are so offensive I won’t quote them here. A couple of years ago Courtney Love pulled out of playing a festival because she didn’t want to perform alongside Limp Bizkit and System Of A Down and their “sexist claptrap”. Recently Incubus’s Brandon Boyd distanced himself from the nu-metal scene saying “a lot of those bands had misogynistic lyrics”. Limp Bizkit’s obnoxious misogyny shows no signs of reformation. The key line on his 2013 track ‘Ready To Go’ is “is that your bitch, cause she told me she’s ready to go.”
Desecrating Michael Jackson
If you were sentient in 2001, facing Alien Ant Farm making tits out of themselves in a boxing ring and pissing all over Michael Jackson’s ‘Smooth Criminal’ was a common hazard.