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That time President Obama pointed out that he wasn’t the lead singer from Korn

Barack Obama and Jonathan Davis
(Image credit: Getty (Christopher Furlong/Ollie) Millington)

Despite always fancying itself as something of an outsider genre, metal connections within mainstream politics are surprisingly more commonplace than you might imagine. George W. Bush once famously shouted out Ozzy Osbourne when the Prince Of Darkness attended the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2002. Donald Trump is seemingly BFFs with Kid Rock (we can only imagine the wholesome and thoughtfully delivered conversations they must have).

Surely the most unlikely presidential/heavy metal crossover ever, though, happened in 2015, when then-serving US Pres Barack Obama was speaking at a Medal of Honor Ceremony taking place at the White House. The recipient of the medal was retiring French-American army captain Florent Groberg, who was being awarded following his actions tackling a suicide bomber while in Afghanistan in 2012. While recovering in hospital in Germany some days after his heroics, Groberg - a metal fan - awoke to find none other than Korn frontman Jonathan Davis sitting by his bedside. In his tired and confused state, Groberg initially thought he was hallucinating, only to eventually realise that Davis had indeed flown over to see him.

Referencing the moment at the ceremony, Obama stated: “[Groberg] woke up on a hospital bed, in a little bit of a haze. He wasn’t sure, but he thought he was in Germany, and someone was at his bedside talking to him. And he thought it was the lead singer from the heavy metal band Korn. Flo thought, ‘What’s going on? Am I hallucinating?’ But he wasn’t, it was all real.”

Obama then went on to crack a joke, confirming that while Davis really did visit Groberg in hospital, it was not the Korn singer stood in front of him right now.

“And so today, Flo, I want to assure you, you are not hallucinating,” Obama added. “You are actually in the White House. Those cameras are on. I am not the lead singer from Korn. We are here to award you our nation’s highest military honour distinction, The Medal of Honor.”

“I was asleep and then around six or seven in the morning, my phone starts going off,” Davis told Rolling Stone later that year. “I look over and someone had just texted me, ‘The president just said your name during this Medal of Honor ceremony.’ I’m just like ‘whatever’ and went back to sleep, but [my phone] kept going.”

Davis added that he was “shocked and taken back” by the reference - just like pretty much every single nu metal fan who happened to catch the speech that day. 

Latest Korn album Requiem is out now. Watch the unlikely Obama/Korn call-out below.

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Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin moved into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He is also probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.