The 40 Greatest Nu-Metal Songs Of All Time #40-21

Jul 1, 2006 (Updated Jul 6, 2006)

The Bottom Line Get your anger and angst out of the cupboard.

Welcome to the 40 Greatest Nu-Metal Songs of All Time (officially). I’m not even going to go into the argument of whether nu-metal is really metal... some of it is, some of it isn’t. You’ll notice if you keep up-to-date with the press that critics have that horrible habit of saying ‘nu-metal is dead.’ I, personally, will never agree, but I thought, seeing as so many are quick to dismiss it these days, that I’d compile a list of the 40 most talented “nu-metal” songs that were ever (or never) aired on your local pop/rock station, if only to relive the memories for you while I still can. Let’s be honest... you were sucked in too, weren’t you? Even if you’ve stayed away from the misnomer with a fifty foot pole since Limp Bizkit released Chocolate Starfish & the Hotdog Flavored-Water, this could be just a passing point of interest for you to see what’s went on outside the main stereotype. It’s also a good list for those that have ever felt frustrated by those who believe that there is nothing good in nu-metal. It was never really a correct genre, and probably half the bands on here wouldn’t be ‘nu-metal’ even if it were, but I thought you and me could have some fun skimming over the biggest trendsetters in this flash in the pan movement. There’s not many acoustic slow songs in here.

(I’ve also included a small section for a standout line from the track... if you knew it, you’ll remember chanting along to it; if not, well... you can take an insightful look into the diaries of nu-metallists anonymous)

1. This is a list of the 40 Greatest Nu-Metal songs of all time, not the most influential. Yes it is accurate. Therefore, I have not included Powerman 5000, Coal Chamber or Dope, because they are rubbish. There is no Hoobastank here, because they are not nu-metal, even by any stretch of the imagination. Nor will you find Kid Rock, as I’ve lumped him into rap.
2. None of nu-metals brainchilds (that means your Rage Against the Machines, Helmets, Sepulturas, Alice In Chains, Panteras or Faith No Mores) are included either.
3. Look closely at the years each song came out, and you’ll find that nu-metal was at it’s most crowded during the early 㢤s.
4. Although this is not based on influentiality, some acts have more reoccurences than others. For example, Staind have more songs than, say, Adema.

Thanks. Enjoy this deliciously ‘passe’ list!

40. Counterfeit - Limp Bizkit (1997)
Three Dollar Bill, Y’All
Now this was a hard choice. Jacksonville rappers Limp Bizkit have been responsible for turning out worse crap than the ear-grinding techno mixes you’ll hear on late night radio. Nevertheless, I don’t suppose I could truly could this a ‘greatest’ list unless I found one good song from these cap-backwards genre innovators. And Counterfeit, from their debut Three Dollar Bill Y’All isn’t bad: it’s probably the closest to angry Fred Durst has ever sounded. Plus, it’s kinda fun to chant along to the chorus, when he starts screaming ‘I’m sick of you tooo!’ Still fear the nookie though, and the disgraces it put upon pop culture.
Standout Line: Freakin’ me out, you wear a mask called counterfeit
Freakin’ me out, you wear a... FAKE!

39. The Spy Hunter - Project 86 (2003)
Songs to Burn Your Bridges By
If you’re looking for variety in this fusion genre (and who said there wasn’t any), why not turn away from the usual childhood angst and opt for something with a positive message? Of all post-KoRn ‘new metal’ bands, only P.O.D. and Project 86 have had the alternative vision to mix it with Christianity. Project 86 mix it with anger, though. The Spy Hunter, the first track off their independently-released Songs to Burn Your Bridges By, is an irritated energy pulse with beefy shouts of denial in the bridge, and they’re still a freakin’ underground band. Word up, folks.
Standout Line: One last disguise...

38. Get Some - Snot (1997)
Get Some
I know I’ve promised to keep this countdown purely to the straight-faced counting down of nu-metal’s greatest pawns, but I have to let out a bitter rant at this point. It’s sad how people are only appreciated more after they’re dead. Artists and musicians. I could give examples. Let’s use Snot. They’re renowned much more know than the underground hardcore phenomenon they were at their founding. Get Some, from the album of the same name, is a slow-burning, transacting cut of low, baritone echoes and intense screams. The guitars always remain vapid, playing basic, down-tuned arpeggios, and Get Some now seems a little haunting in its proclamations of atheism if you take the time to let it grow on you. Again, Snot are a little too edgy for nu-metal, but they are sometimes lumped in with the rest; the sad thing is, Get Some probably wouldn’t have been included on here if their lead singer hadn’t ever died.
Standout Line: MY. SOUL. HAS. DROOOWNED!

37. Bodies - Drowning Pool (2001)
At first few listens, it seems like Bodies is a sadistic track, a killing anthem for the mentally disturbed. The realization soon dawns, though, that’s it’s the perfect party anthem. Spiralling its way through chuggy solos and meaty licks, Bodies still has the vibe to crank at your cousin’s 18th and not feel out-of-place on the setlist. And then there’s the vocallist’s hooky whisper… ‘Let the bodies hit the floor’. It’s a pity he died, really, as Drowning Pool’s next album was utter garbage – not that I ever listened to the full-length Sinner.
Standout Line: Let the bodies hit the floor... (of course)

36. Give Me More - Apartment 26 (2004)
Music for the Massive
Now for an obscure nu-metal number from a British band (bizarre seeing as it’s primarily an American trend) – Apartment 26 present Give Me More. Obscurity aside, Give Me More is really an exemplary hard-rock slam – it utilizes the trick of electronic beats in the verse and heavy guitar sludge in the chorus. Of course, it’s more the interactive vocal work that’s the enjoyable highlight of the cotton candy number. A fun, easy to swallow addition to the greatest 40.
Standout Line: On my own
And all stretched out
It feels like I’ve been here for hours (And I am all stretched out).

35. The Way You Like It - Adema (2001)
Like Apartment 26 before them, Adema also had the tendency to blend keyboard-originating noise with their soft-loud attack, but electro-sludge would be a more accurate descriptor more than light synths for The Way You Like It. A self-hating, rather immature minor hit from Jonathan Davis’ half-brother, it’s a near menacing ode that speaks heavier than DJ-engineered Linkin Park-ness. It’s also the most abrasive vocalist Mark Chavez’s croon will ever get, seeing as he left the band after just another record. Now, where will lines like ‘My life has changed but fuck the fame / You can’t complain when you can pay the bills and do your thing’ go?
Standout Line: I miss the pain and the torment you put me through...

34. Minerva - The Deftones (2003)
The Deftones
Think, in your head, the band/s that come to mind when you think who created the trend. In most cases, it’ll be either KoRn or Limp Bizkit, or both... but what about the other godfather that has been around for twelve years now, that band that has stayed largely underground... ? If you thought Deftones, you thought correct. If you didn’t think at all, get right into indie you dweeb (and now I’m a hypocrite as well). At any rate, the Deftones will get their due in this list here: their first entry is Minerva, a track positively infested with all the symptoms of Deftones mania – understated guitar work reeling out a slow, tortured chorus shrieked in melody. For this name-dropping hit, they’re even taking on some form of gratitude. Uh, way to go, I say.
Standout Line: God bless you all
For the song you saved us...

33. Bring the Noise - Limp Bizkit ft. Aaron Lewis (1999)
Ok, this was included as a bonus track on some copies of Staind’s sophomore Dysfunction, and they get credit for it, but it’s really a Bizkit-dominated cover song. Staind frontman Aaron Lewis just throws a few vomit screams in. As Bring the Noise is one of rap music’s most classic songs, there’s not a lot to go wrong here, so you don’t have to be too prejudiced against the LB machine to enjoy it. Sonically the cut’s roughened-up with heavy guitar lines that may make it musically better than the original, and while, NO!, Fred Durst can’t compete with whoever that Public Enemy ‘gangsta upfront’ is, he’s not too high-pitched. Flow? Yes. If excessive cussing offends you, you may want to hit the killswitch before they start saying ‘fuck this’ and ‘shut the fuck up’ over again at the end. This happens to be the only cover song on the list.
Standout Line: Turn it up! ...Bring the noise!

32. Raise Up - Saliva (2002)
Back Into Your System
Will you like Saliva? On the one hand, they destroyed any credibility they had when the lead singer sold his soul with Chad Kroeger for the Spiderman soundtrack in a chirpy teeny-bop duet, on the other, they issue disgusting LP titles like Survival of the Sickest just to keep the nicest away, kinda like Eminem when you think about it. So if you don’t mind a heavily-tattooed lead singer, which is basically all media-aware ‘metal’ is these days anyway, then you could well find Josey Scott’s fist-raising screams a good niche somewhere between The Disturbed and Soulfly. Raise Up is a simple but sizzling left-handed whallop (to the face) into everything you thought was inane about 21st-century music, particularly in the chorus. You may even want to pick up their new LP out this year.
Standout Line: Raise up / Raise up,
Everybody, get together, take your hands and raise up

31. So - Static-X (2003)
Shadow Zone
Static-X made only the smallest ‘blip’ on the radar screen when they decided to start regurgitating Slipknot antics (see: I’m the One), so – what makes So, from 2003’s Shadow Zone, so good? Well... it’s a slow song by definition at least, for one. So combines the resonant beeps you might find on a journey into outer space with well-placed keyboard notes. It’s also the closest song I know to rhyming ‘self’ with ‘you.’ Yes, vocallist is on top with throaty screams, but it’s only to tinge it with dollops of increased self-loathing, to be honest – it makes it worth chugging your way through (or at least surviving) all their other ‘hits.’
Standout Line: Pushing you away
Pushing you away
Pushing you away
Away from me...

30. Got the Life - KoRn (1998)
Follow the Leader
While other counterparts from the quintiple-platinum Follow the Leader have been better remembered, Got the Life was a key force in bringing nu-metal to the mainstream. It spent 7 weeks at number 2 back in its day on MTV’s Total Request Live, and rightly so – who’d ever heard bass like the one that takes control of the into ever before? Got the Life isn’t so much about making us feel lead singer Jonathan Davis’s pain as it is a distorted rhythm-and-vocals grind – observe scats and the fierce drum beat. It was a mold of funk, hip-hop, hard rock, and, to some extent, pop. And people say KoRn have no staying power.
Standout Line: Everyday I feel so hollow
Inside I was beating me,
You will never see
So come dance with me

29. So Cold - Breaking Benjamin (2004)
We Are Not Alone
Unless their upcoming third album can convince me otherwise, Breaking Benjamin fall decisively into the category of one-hit wonders. The tag ‘Creed / KoRn fusion band’ seems especially accurate to describe their handful of generic hits. So Cold, though, a creeping, atmospheric breakout from 2004, would win the group much more acclaim if all their songs were like this. It’s nearly 5 minutes long, and twists its way through corridors of different peels of volume: the dormant, chiming run-in to a breakdown solo. It’s good enough that even other aspiring hard rock bands could look up to it; but we’re yet to see how it stands the test of time, so it’s included here on base of quality alone.
Standout Line: Show me how it ends it’s alright / Show me how defenseless you really are

28. Revolution Man - The Union Underground (2000)
An Education In Rebellion
Yeah, the Union Underground sound like Godsmack. What else would you expect from a band that rose to fame on WWE chanting ‘Move to the fucking music?’ And, although neither hide nor hair of them has been heard since late 2002, the Union Underground offer a vast improvement on songwriting and structure than peer Alice In Chains devotees (come to think of it, how did Godsmack become famous when this band were just a flavor of the week trend?). ‘Revolution Man,’ in particular, is a treat: no ludicrous Jimmi Hendrix-wannabe ‘chunk solos,’ just a self-deprecating ode with a vibe. Passive derivativia, right then and there.
Standout Line: Listen while I load my gun / He said to me
Something ‘bout a chosen one / It’s coming back to me

27. Wait & Bleed - Slipknot (1999)
Like society’s pet hate back at #40, this, too, was a hard choice – is that DJ scratching I hear on the back of Wait & Bleed, the charting song from their debut? Nevermind. Whereas fluro-haired frontman Corey Taylor (not to worry, as he ‘hides’ behind his group’s colloquial mask) often sounds vocally flat in his Slipknot persona, Wait & Bleed’s on the list because it’s vicious if nothing else. Stabbing drums (which cement nu-metal’s historical tie with death metal – how embarrassing) propel the number, and besides the fact that both the surge and the lyrics are worked up (delightfully) over nothing, Taylor sounds... for lack of other words... less flat! That and the ‘soft slabs’ punched over the pre-chorus prove there’s still hope for the nonnet. Wait & Bleed is a good song, even.
Standout Line: I’ve felt the hate rise up in me,
Kneel down and clear the stone of leaves,
I wander out where you can’t see
Inside my shell, I wait and bleed...

26. Do You Call My Name - RA (2002)
From One
For a band that have had some five rock radio hits by now, RA have been given frightfully little exposure from most of the music world. I mean, sure, they reference Ancient Egypt in such an unsubtle way it’d make Nile blush, but… why not? If you’ve got time to steer clear of the now emo-populated rock market, you might like to pick up either of their two albums. Do You Call My Name mixes R&B bounce with unmistakably nu-metal lyrics: Do you breed my pain / My heart is bloody and I can’t take it anymore, sorta like Taproot’s declarations but with beats in backups. And the funny thing is, it’s as smooth as anything.
Standout Line: Do you call my name / Do you stain my brain / My eyes are blurry and I can’t see you anymore...

25. Awake - Godsmack (2000)
Listening to a Godsmack album is like a long punch to the gut, but Awake (the song, not the album) puts a bright side on many of those aspects. One – it’s the perfect song to listen to when you feel like Alice In Chains but don’t want to listen to Alice In Chains. Two – it cuts and pastes a voluminous prog riff into its first forty seconds from Metallica, and we all love Metallica. Three – it has rhythm. It’s not too amorphous on us. Meaning; it doesn’t solo one minute then painfully repeat it’s hook (listening to I Stand Alone will bring you up to speed with this.) It has a beat. You can tap your foot, even headbang to vocallist Sully Erna’s ambiguous struggle if you like. Here’s a free sample:
I’m alive... For you I’m awake
Ok, stop. You’re making me laugh already.
Standout Line: Wait. A-nother minute / Can’t you see what this pain has f*cking done to me?

24. Home - Staind (1999)
I could look you straight in the eye and tell you that I think that Staind have never been a nu-metal band. Then again, half the artists on here are probably gearing up to sue me in advance for their placement on this compilation, and a selection of their music is ironically too good to be excluded for that reason. Home, consequently, from their 1999 breakout, is one of the most melancholy doses of alt metal you will ever be on the receiving end of. Not only did it set a bit of a template for later, when they actually improved and matured (big words that mean a lot to nu-metal), it’s also hard-hitting in a semi-progressive record (just ask Opeth how difficult that feat is).
Standout Line: I cannot forget,
I live with regret,
I cannot forget...
I’ll live with...

23. Back at School - The Deftones (2000)
Back to School EP
Ah, isn’t it funny how some artists’ best material lies on their EPs and mini albums rather than their radio hits. And Back At School is indeed one of the mighty Deftones very best – some might point out that it epitomizes the faux rebellion of the genre – teen-targeted, standard-issue playground feuds. The Deftones still have credibility, though, based on the strong chorus of this one.
Standout Line: So there you go / Cos back at school / We are the leaders of it all...

22. Megalomaniac - Incubus (2004)
A Crow Left of the Murder
Now, this is vintage Incubus that everyone seems to diss on, and I don’t know why. Megalomaniac is a steaming, satisfying hard rock course that really isn’t the sound of a band trying too hard, just discovering their own. I haven’t got around to ever hearing the full Crow Left of the Murder, but if it’s anything as charged as this, it’ll be a ride to remember. Not only is it uptempo and aggressive, but darker and more callous than anything on Morning View and Make Yourself. I have high hopes for the future of this band.
Standout Line: Hey Mega-lomaniac, you’re no Jesus!

21. Calling - Taproot (2005)
Blue-Sky Research
Ok, by writing standards, this anthemic desolation drug is just as mindless as most (‘Cos you’ll never make me happy’), but you’re halfway into this now, aren’t you? Get wayy over it. And instrumental-wise, it’s one of the most cohesive numbers since Tool’s 11 and a half / 8 time signatures. Yes, Calling does come with a tag on its cover that says it’s addictive (half on ground of its streamlined riff), yes, Stephen Richards does stutter, yes, he also learnt to sing (joy!), and yes, it’s not much more than a ‘poem to himself’ (a reference to their previous, also competent spin Poem), so basically it’s the next soundtrack to your life. It’s also one of only four or so to be included on the list from last year.
Standout Line: You’re c-c-c-calling, but I can’t hear you
I’m not listening anymore...

I’ve separated the 40 Greatest Nu-Metal Songs (Of All Time) into a two-part series for dramatic effect and to make sure you keep it here. Check back in a few days to discover which bands have made the top half. Any guesses?

Feel free to leave a comment if you feel your ‘favorite nu-metal band’ has been hard done by or otherwise.

The 40 Greatest Nu-Metal Songs Of All Time #20-1

Read all comments (16)

About the Author ID:
Reviews written: 152
Trusted by: 67 members