Much has been made of how hair metal bands tried to jump the grunge bandwagon after Nevermind made them all feel as silly as they looked. There was something sad about seeing Warrant and Skid Row struggle to distance themselves from their past and peers, begging audiences and label execs for their attention, but also something fascinating. Watching Bret Michaels drool his way through Sublime's "What I Got" in 2010 may not be anyone's idea of fun, but it's more memorable than the Unskinny Bop.
Nu metal, the hair metal of the '90s, is more complicated. The fad died out equally fast (until its inevitable Rock of Ages-style revival), but didn't have any clear rock trends to latch onto in the early '00s. Thus, many of nu metal's leaders jumped ships to different waters. As with hair metal, their failures are often more interesting than their actual hits.
No one with any sense of time management needs to find out what happened to, say, Powerman 5000*. But if we cap the list at three, you'll get a few funny, bizarre and almost bearable nu metal reinventions that still won't make you pine for a Family Values reunion tour.
1. Jonathan Davis as a Dubstep Clown, "Evilution"
Korn's recent dubstep album was apparently bad enough to make them relevant again, in the way that "F" grade music is better than "C" grade music. You'd never guess from this song and video, where "J Devil" teams up with two electronic losers (Datsik and Infected Mushroom) to get his ass kicked at a birthday party where his name is misspelled on the cake. The soundtrack suggests AOL's dial up sounds, which means it's about as stale as Korn were in 1999. If this is what the kids want to listen to these days, call me an old man.
2. Aaron Lewis as a Country Music Republican, "Country Boy"
In Staind (sic), Aaron Lewis led the world's most boring band, ordinary enough to be popular and too inoffensive to be Crazy Town. Only now has he stepped things up with this manipulative ode to right wing values, particularly the second amendment. The melody is stolen from Bon Jovi and amazingly enough, watered down. A jingoistic monologue from Charlie Daniels and an auto-tuned, lost-sounding George Jones can't help, and we're left with the most appalling sight of a New Englander posing as a good ol' boy since George W. Bush.
3. Kid Rock as Lynyrd Zevon, "All Summer Long"
I have defended Kid Rock, and will continue to do so, as long as he deserves it. But man, does this song suck. It's bad enough to see the brains behind Devil Without a Cause go bad, but hearing the Kid tie his worst lyrics in with the world's most likeable southern rock band and LA's most colorfully sardonic tunesmith truly underscores how far he's sunk. Hearing this song all over the airwaves in 2008 made me sad not for Kid Rock or my own ears, but for every American who had apparently never heard "Werewolves of London" or "Sweet Home Alabama."
*OK, so apparently they've released a tuneless cover of "Jump" and still sound like a rhythmless, computerized Rob Zombie imitating the Cars.