Nu-Metal. Everyone hates and disdains it, but for teenagers hooked on S Club 7 or Steps, it was poppy enough to lure them away from the fake smiles and slick dance routines, and loud enough that it appealed to their burgeoning – some might say inevitable – rebellious streak. Just like other genres of music, Nu-Metal had terrible bands. Names. You want names! Mudvayne. Limp Bizkit. Kid Rock. Incubus. Nu Metal also had some good bands too. Deftones. Slipknot. Linkin Park. System of a Down. Orgy. Korn. Static X.
It was a strange time for alternative rock. Most of the bands I’ve just listed, good or bad, aren’t really Nu-Metal, but like every new scene they were swept up in the tidal wave of hype. They were big, aggressive, colourful and hostile. And very masculine.
Whenever a genre of music from the underground goes mainstream, it changes. Punk became New Wave. Grunge ended with Silverchair and Candlebox. Everything is co-opted into the mainstream at some point, and then eliminated. Nu-Metal’s death happened on live television. Worlds burned! Entire universes crumbled! Nations collapsed! But…what happened?
It was just another night at The MTV Video Music Awards. Christina Aguilera was onstage singing when – oh my GOD – Fred Durst stood up from his chair in the audience and went onstage to shout in sync with Christina’s singing. Now we all wish Christina would release a Nu-Metal album. She certainly has the vocals for it. But music tribalism was a bit more intensive in those days. Seriously. You were Pop. You were Rock. You were Heavy Metal. You were Nu Metal. And never the twain shall meet.
Kittie. They were young girls when they released their brilliant debut album SPIT to mixed reviews. Critics, confused by the sight and sound of young girls making loud music, seemed to think they were trying to compete with all the big pop girls of the day. One review neatly sums up the mentality of critics at the time: “Throw in the fact that they range in age from 15 to 18, and Kittie seems like the perfect weapon to smite Mandy Moore, Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson and Christina Aguilera, forever ridding the music industry of teen-pop.”
Why would anyone want to rid the music industry of teen pop? Oh, I tried for years until I realised how stupid, selfish, and cunty I was being. Anyway, it wasn’t until fairly recently that I realised something very, very, very obvious. As obvious as my witchy nose.
Nu-Metal was pop music. Louder, yes. Performed by men (sometimes in makeup), yes. But it was just as pop as Mandy Moore, Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson and Christina Aguilera. In reality, it makes complete sense to see Fred Durst onstage with Christina Aguilera. And really, did Nu-Metal actually die onstage that night with Christina and Fred unleashing high notes and guttural growls at one another? Linkin Park stuck around until the sad demise of Chester Bennington. Deftones continue to put out brilliant music. Korn survived the Nu-Metal bust and tour regularly. Christina Aguilara is still around too. She isn’t as visible, her music nowhere near as popular with audiences birthed on Ariana Grande. But she made it. She has survived.
Eminem and Elton John similarly shocked their respective fan bases when they performed together at The Grammys. Boy George likened it to a potential duet between himself a Pol Pot. I imagine the sight of Demi Lovato performing a song with Pete Doherty would be similarly unlikely and shocking to people.
I think it’s time for a Nu Metal revival. Yes! Bring it back. Coal Chamber could sing with Justin Bieber and no-one would mind. Those days are gone. Everything is possible. The Spice Girls are back together. I’d love to see them with S Club
7 3. Why not?