Korn in the USA

Appropriating a fish-in-a-barrel stance with Korn would be the easiest, surest form of cheap laughs, for sure, and one, as Courtney Love recently said, that would be fun to do as well.

Frankly, Korn is shit in warm-up suits and piercings. An overblown product of record company mechanics mixing with the unrestrained luck of five mostly thick-waisted white dudes from Bakersfield via Huntington Beach, California, who make a noise as unremarkable as typing paper.

Korn is the whitest, malest, most asexual music since Oi, and, like Oi, it should have been left to die some unnatural death. The songs -- or rather, dirges with the patented Jonathan Davis "angry" warble weaving through -- don't have enough staying power to be remembered seconds after completion, dirges which at best merely annoy.

And it is filthily objectionable for someone like Korn singer Davis to have grown rich and respected for preaching a hollow mantra of "We're bringing back rock 'n' roll" under the guise of Korn's tuneless, banal thud. The real cause of Korn's rise is a simple timing snafu in which the bored suburban kid brothers of ex-CrYe and Judas Priest fans had nothing to latch on to other than a bloating Metallica or some record company throat-ram like Hootie and the Blowfish. Korn fit the bill. And it didn't matter what the group's music sounded like as long as it resonated with a pissy, angry clang. Even if it wasn't really pissy and angry.

Korn's self-titled debut in 1994 and the identical sounding 1996 follow-up, Life Is Peachy, both went platinum. The band's latest, Follow the Leader, entered the Billboard charts at No. 1 last September and has since crested the million mark. Currently Korn is touring American arenas with erstwhile adversary Rob Zombie. They'll stop in Fort Lauderdale Tuesday, March 9.

Since Korn wouldn't give us an interview, we decided to Follow the Leader nearly song-by-song with Davis (as per the band's bio) while tossing in our own two cents. Cool?

"It's On!" -- Davis: "This is my peer pressure song. It's about me, being so stressed out, going out, partying and everybody's just going 'Come on dude, it's on.' That's partying: it's about the alcohol, women and everything else... all that wrapped into one."

OK, first, Davis has gotta be talkin' about Grand Funk's "We're an American Band" ("C'mon dudes, let's get it on") because lines from "It's On!" like "Save some for me/It's what I like/I wanna play/You know it's time" just ain't swingin' with Davis' anecdote. And second, never, ever pay any attention to anyone who uses the word "party" in verb form. And just what does he mean by "and everything else"? Too many cigars? Hot dogs? Lollipops? What?

And if there is a melody here, captain, it's too obscure for our sonar to locate.

"Freak on a Leash" -- Davis: "That's my song that rails out against the music industry. It's about how I feel like I'm a fuckin' prostitute. Like I'm this freak paraded around, but I got corporate America fuckin' making all the money while it's taking a part of me. It's like they stole something from me -- they stole my innocence and I'm not calm anymore."

Prostitute, eh? Sounds like a pity party to me, kids: "Life's gotta always be messing with me (you wanna see the light?)/Can't it chill and let me be free (so do I)/Can't I take away all this pain (you wanna see the light)?"

Poor baby. Did the big, mean old record industry steal away his wee-wee innocence? Awwwwwww. Yeah, our hearts pump dishwater.

"Got the Life" -- Davis: "I'm baggin' on myself in that song. It's about how everything's always handed to me, how I look up to God and say I don't want this anymore. Like I want something more out of life than all of this. And I've got everything I really need, but sometimes I don't like it and I don't know how to explain it."

Davis really doesn't know how to explain it, does he? 'Cause the lyrics are just strings of non sequiturs over yet another insufferable din: "Hate something, sometime, some way/Something kicked onto the floor/Mine? Something kicked onto the floor."

Boy, that says it all. And, jeez, for a big, tough, rock 'n' roll star, the whimper factor is a tad high, wouldn't ya say?

At least in describing the song's "meaning," Jonathan freely comes clean about how everything is handed to him.

"Dead Bodies Everywhere" -- Davis: "That was the song about my parents trying to keep me out of the music business.... I worked at the coroner's office instead of being a musician, and all I got out of it was 'Dead Bodies Everywhere,' and I got all traumatized. Thanks a lot mom and dad."

Yeah, thanks, Mr. and Mrs. Davis.
Little Jonny traumatized? Perhaps this explains his partiality toward long tangents of the whine variety: "Hate!/I sing my words I've thought that dealing/With your life's dead bodies everywhere/You/Really want me to be a good son/Why'd you make me feel like no one."

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