The 20 greatest Korn songs ever - as voted by you

Korn in 2016
(Image credit: Jeremy Saffer)

In 1994, Korn released an album that'd change music forever. Their raw, emotional, self-titled debut took the influences of boundary-pushing luminaries like Faith No More, Helmet and Prong, layered in some extra, bass-heavy bottom-end and officially put nu metal on the map. The genre they spearheaded would go on to become the biggest movement in 21st century metal, but as the popularity of nu metal eventually faded (and, to be fair, blew up again), Korn remained at the top of the metal tree, releasing no fewer than 14 studio albums across a career that has spanned three decades so far with no signs of slowing down.

With their legendary debut album turning 30 this year, we asked Korn's biggest fans - that's you lot - to help us crown the 20 greatest Korn songs of all time. Perhaps unsurprisingly (hey, nostalgia is a hell of a drug), it's songs from the first half of Korn's career that dominate this list, the band's immense influence on millennial metal standing tall as ever. Here, then, is the list you decided on.

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20. Did My Time (Take A Look In The Mirror, 2003)

Surprisingly, Did My Time is the only Korn song to ever break the Top 40 singles chart in the US. Even more surprising is that it came when nu metal was already into its descent. Intended for the movie Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life, the song actually ended up being omitted from the film's official soundtrack thanks to wrangling with Korn's record label, but nonetheless appeared in the movie itself and featured a video with Tomb Raider star Angelina Jolie at one point screaming face-to-face with Jonathan Davis. Truly, halcyon days.

19. Alone I Break (Untouchables, 2002)

Emotional anguish, a pervasive sense of otherness and questions about masculinity: Alone I Break is a textbook example of the Korn themes at play in much of Jonathan Davis's lyrical content in Korn's first decade. But lines like "I am hoping I can find/where to leave my hurt behind" lend a sense that Davis was already growing tired of the band's characteristic angst, while the track's largely minimalist, leering-from-the-shadows tones lend it a creepy edge that perfectly suits its content. 

18. Daddy (Korn, 1994)

The most infamous track from Korn's debut album - and the reason we likely won't see the band play it in full again any time soon - Daddy is the point where Korn tipped over the edge into pitch-black darkness. Written about Davis's own experiences with sexual abuse, the song perfectly utilises Korn's skin-crawling melodies and ominous low-end to offer stomach-turning abjection, Davis's weeping while a sweet, lullaby-like memory plays out in the background still impossibly tough to listen to even if you've heard the album a million times. 

17. Thoughtless (Untouchables, 2002)

Korn are often at their best when facing down their demons and tormentors, a fact that is the heart and centre of Thoughtless. Partially written based on Jonathan Davis's experiences being bullied in high school, the song's video featured future Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul suffering abuse at school before turning up to prom and spraying his classmates with a geyser of vomit, enacting his own revenge.

With its chunky riffs and defiant chorus, Thoughtless was Jonathan Davis's way of throwing a lifeline to the abused. Speaking to Hammer in 2022, he recalled "I was beat down so often in school and there was no help...It was a real failure of the school system. So I wrote from that sense of being so hurt and knowing there’s no help coming." 

16. Make Me Bad (Issues, 1999)

Make Me Bad might not have the anthemic quality of Issues lead single Falling Away From Me, but nonetheless captures Korn at the apex of their commercial prowess, undeniably distinctive as the band veer between a characteristic grooving stomp and creepy, melodic verses. Sonically, it's a pretty straightforward example of Korn's sound, but the vaguely sci-fi, Alien-inspired video was reportedly one of the most expensive videos Korn ever made. 

15. Twist (Life Is Peachy, 1996)

Who else but Korn could not only get away with opening an album with a 50-second stomper filled with rabid scatting vocals? Life Is Peachy might have largely just been a stepping stone to the success Korn would later enjoy, but it also gave the band a chance to be gleefully weird, taking the chunky template they laid down on their debut and pushing the boat further out to show that nu metal truly was the genre for weirdos, by weirdos. 

14. Ball Tongue (Korn, 1994)

While Korn can largely be credited for helping kickstart the nu metal revolution, their success was built on the bones of what came before. The chomping riff that kicks off Ball Tongue is decidedly indebted to 90s alt-metallers Helmet, while the whining high tones against thick bass come direct from the likes of Cypress Hill and House Of Pain. But that doesn't make Korn any less innovative; they were one of the first bands to combine these elements so effortlessly, and even 30 years on with decades of imitators, Korn remain the definitive force for this particular brand of nu metal. 

13. Twisted Transistor (See You On The Other Side, 2005)

With nu metal on the critical downturn and the departure of guitarist Brian "Head" Welch, Korn had their backs against the wall going into 2005's See You On The Other Side. So naturally the band came back with some of the best singles of their career, album opener Twisted Transistor leading the charge as the band leaned hard on their hip hop inclinations with a dancefloor-filling beat and roar-along moments that made it the second most successful song of their career. 

12. Good God (Life Is Peachy, 1996)

Stomping and scatting amidst a defiant anthem, Good God is Korn at their most vitriolic, Davis's plea of "won't you get the fuck out of my face" growing ever-more insistent and despairing until the frontman lets loose his best shrieks, tapping into a rabid venom that makes Good God so enduringly brilliant. 

11. Shoots And Ladders (Korn, 1994)

Take something innocent and twist it into something unsettling and somehow profane. It's something Korn played with a lot on their first record - again, we direct you to the closing parts of Daddy - but Shoots And Ladders feels more like a sarcastic rebuttal of innocence in the same sense as Jimi Hendrix's rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, Davis offering his best snotty, Johnny Rotten like intonations singing Ring A Ring O' Roses. Plus, the man plays a mean bagpipe. What more could you ask for? 

10. Y'all Want A Single (Take A Look In The Mirror, 2003)

Nu metal, profane? Surely not! Korn's not-so-subtle rebuttal to the request for "a hit single" on Take A Look In The Mirror somewhat ironically took the form of one of the band's most memorable lyrical hooks. But, as Munky explained to Hammer in 2003; "That shit wasn't flying with us at all! For the first time in our lives we were dissecting our music, and trying to analyze the structure of those songs, trying to figure out what made them huge hits. But Korn never works like that, and while we were all wondering, Jonathan came up with a line: 'Y'all want a single? Say: FUCK THAT' and we wrote Y'All Want a Single as a big 'fuck you' to them."

Extra props to the band for somehow making the radio friendly version even filthier, too - "Y'all want a single say 'suck that'" feels like an even bigger finger to an industry cynically trying to milk its artists. 

9. Faget (Korn, 1994)

Appropriating the abuse Davis had been exposed to throughout high school, Faget is a prime example of Korn using trauma as fuel for defiant angst. You can practically hear Davis gritting his teeth as he snarls his way through the song, building to a big crescendo declaration that "you can suck my dick and fucking like it". It's not exactly eloquent, but for a 23-year-old Jonathan Davis it marked a point of getting back at those who had made his adolescence hell. 

8. Clown (Korn, 1994)

Sounding like they've been chucked down the stairs and then forced to crawl their way back up, Clown is yet more proof that Korn were the ultimate misfit band when they emerged in 1994. The final single from the album, Clown also helped showcase Korn's unique sound to the world, its writhing rhythms and creep rock lyrics capturing a sense of disillusionment at the heart of nu metal. 

7. Coming Undone (See You On The Other Side, 2005)

Despite writing some undeniable anthems on See You On The Other Side, only Coming Undone has lasted in Korn setlists in the near two-decades since its release. It's not hard to see why; a grinding riff at its heart is pure rhythmic bliss, while the hook is so large it's more like a scythe, cutting through everything in its path to show Korn could still produce the kinds of floor-filling bangers that had been so common in metal at the turn of the millennium. 

6. A.D.I.D.A.S. (Life Is Peachy, 1996)

Korn might have been a band for the outcasts and misfits, but they could be horny, too. Five years after alt rock had largely drummed sex out of rock'n'roll, Korn were proudly declaring that All Day I Dream About Sex, taking a daft backronym and turning it into an enduring sing-along. 

5. Here To Stay (Untouchables, 2002)

Upping the distortion and letting out a growling riff that could make a tiger piss its pants, the opening track to 2002's Untouchables effectively became a mission statement for the band as nu metal began its steady decline and bands either ditched the genre or otherwise collapsed. 

4. Got The Life (Follow The Leader, 1998)

"Get your boogie on." Korn established themselves as commercial titans with Follow The Leader, but more than that, the band also showed that there was much more to them than angst and anguish, Got The Life capturing an ascendent energy and anthemic quality that helped propel Korn to the top of the nu metal totem pole, if only for a short time before they were usurped by the likes of Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park. 

3. Falling Away From Me (Issues, 1999)

With a beat like a collapsing high rise and otherworldly high tones, Falling Away From Me was Korn's last single of the 90s and proved the perfect companion to the spookiness of Freak On A Leash. Unsurprisingly, Falling Away From Me is one of the band's most played songs, the kind of unifying anthem that turned Korn's otherness into a communal strength that would make them such an enduring and iconic force. 

2. Freak On A Leash (Follow The Leader, 1998)

From its Todd McFarlane-directed part-animated music video to the wheedling guitar tones and Jonathan Davis's scat, every element of Freak On A Leash is undeniably iconic, a masterpiece in the truest sense of showing that Korn had mastered their craft and were now a creative force to be reckoned with. 

Frequently re-released, Freak On A Leash may be Korn's most recognisable anthem (even if it isn't their most popular, as denoted by the fact it sits here at #2) and was described to Hammer by Jonathan Davis in 2022 as "the song that took [Korn] off the leash" so far as industry interference went, Korn now able to forge their own path and ensure their legacy going forward. 

1. Blind (Korn, 1994)

And here we have it: Blind, the greatest Korn song of all-time, as voted for by you, our readers. Korn's debut single was in its own way a signal for the changing of the guard in metal, Jonathan Davis's proclamation of "are you ready?!" a prescient statement that no, metal wasn't ready for what the band were about to unleash unto the world. 

With hip-hop-inspired beats and grooves that took from the very best of alt metal but added a fresh new twist, Korn arrived as a force unlike just about anything else you could find in 1994, blending together so many different influences and sounds that they served as a galvanising force for many of the bands that would fill the nu metal ranks in their wake. 

At the same time, the song felt like the fully realised article: while Korn would experiment with their sound across their careers, Blind is the blueprint upon which everything else is built, its elements threaded so deeply into the band's DNA that any other band even trying to write something like Blind would be dismissed as a mindless copycat. If you've ever wondered: this is ground zero for nu metal. 

Rich Hobson

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token. 

With contributions from