Nu metal dominated the late 90s and early 2000s, catapulting countless surly suburbanites with keychains and baggy shorts to fame. Yet for every Korn or Limp Bizkit, there was a Crazy Town or an Alien Ant Farm – a bunch of second-division chancers who spotted the bandwagon hurtling through town and jumped on it. Still, just as you put enough monkeys in front of enough typewriters for long enough and you’ll get the work of Shakespeare, so every single one of these bozos hit paydirt once with a truly killer song. We’ve rounded up 10 of them here for your delectation. Let the bodies hit the floor…
Trapt – Headstrong
Before singer Chris Brown outed himself as an odious right-wing Twitter troll with some dodgy views, Trapt were actually musicians. And much like many of nu metal’s egregious flashes in the pan, the band peaked with the first single of their first album. Still, Headstrong is a killer tune with a strong chorus and just enough dynamic range to make it stand out from Trapt’s contemporaries. No junior school student’s MP3 player was complete without it.
Nonpoint – Bullet With A Name
Bullet With A Name is a blitzkrieg with a raging yet catchy chorus. Released in 2005, it’s a late-in-the-game triumph for Nonpoint, whose other material boasts very little in the way of identity. The band specialise in the archetypical nu metal fare, pairing Wes Borland-knock-off riffs with grunting vocals in very brief songs. However, it’s this signature track’s all-out heaviness that hints that its creators did have potential – it just remained very largely untapped.
Adema – Immortal
Let’s face facts: anything even remotely connected to the Mortal Kombat games instantly becomes fucking awesome. As a result, Immortal – the theme song for Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance – is fucking awesome. It’s an anthem with a cathartic breakdown and a brilliantly nostalgic video. For flash-in-the-pan third divisioners Adema themselves, it’s a surefire stand-out in a career that was most – well, only – famous for the fact that original singer Marky Chavez was Jonathan Davis’ half brother.
Drowning Pool – Bodies
Bodies was the first single off Drowning Pool’s first album, and is such a moshpit-hyping banger that it should have put the band on the fast-track to stardom. From that notorious introduction to the incendiary chorus, it’s a jolt of pure, unfettered energy. The sudden death of singer Dave Williams stymied any potential they had, and their subsequent career consisted of a string of lacklustre albums and a shift to far more forgettable hard rock.
Taproot – Poem
The most famous thing about Taproot is the angry voice message Fred Durst left on their singer’s answering machine. That’s not really a surprise when you consider the Michigan boys’ mediocre music and a frontman with the charisma of flour. However, they did score something of a hit with 2002’s Poem, which peaked at #5 on Billboard’s rock chart. Powered by some hyper-heavy guitar work, it proves that even a broken clock is still correct once a while.
Puddle Of Mudd – She Hates Me
Pasty-faced longhairs Puddle Of Mudd were nu metal's grunge wing, peddling watered-down early-90s angst long after that circus left town and selling a frankly baffling five million copies of their debut album, Come Clean, on the back of it (the fact that Fred Durst signed them to his label, Flawless, didn't hurt). Credit to mainman Wes Scantlin, though: this hit did manage to smuggle some massively pissed-off lyrics into the US and UK Top 20 under the cover of a peppy, campfire singalong.
Dry Kill Logic – Paper Tiger
Dry Kill Logic formed in 1995, during the very early days of nu metal’s ascent. Sadly though, the band never saw much success. They didn’t release their first album until six years later, by which point the music they were peddling felt generic. However, 2004’s Paper Tiger is a blistering highlight for the historians among you, bridging the gap between nu metal and the later metalcore movement.
Alien Ant Farm – Smooth Criminal
It says an awful lot about your band when your best song isn’t even your song. This is exactly the situation that Alien Ant Farm are in with Smooth Criminal: Michael Jackson’s ‘80s pop hit introduced to a new audience of turn-of-the-millenium moshers. It’s a strong cover, doing justice to the original with Jacko-inspired whoops and an easter-egg-laden video, while also totally changing the track’s genre.
Earshot – Get Away
Get Away is what Tool would sound like if they weren’t progressive in any way. On – once again – the lead single from their 2002 debut album, Letting Go, Earshot recreate the icons’ crawling music, and singer Wil Martin captures Maynard James Keenan’s dark delivery. All the while, the band are still rooted in nu metal. This, combined with Martin’s vocals worsening on cunningly-titled follow up Two, ultimately resulted in minimal attention on these subgenre late-comers.
Crazy Town – Butterfly
And so we save the best/worst for last. Crazy Town are rap rockers so tame and white that they make Vanilla Ice look like Ice Cube. Yet, somehow, their debut album sold more than 2.5 million units worldwide. To be fair to The Gift Of Game, it does contain Butterfly: a track strengthened by being built around a Red Hot Chili Peppers lick. It’s the guiltiest of guilty pleasures, with a chorus that has somehow wormed its way into many a heart.