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-- by Joe D'Angelo, with additional reporting by Heather Parry

Not too long ago, the rap-rock and nü-metal spawn of Limp Bizkit and Korn were everywhere. For a while, a few down-tuned minor chords played on a low-slung seven-string, some bone-crushing beats and a guy growling about his tortured soul seemed a surefire recipe for success.

That's no longer the case.

"Some bands out there ... they just milked the hip-hop-rock-beats-scratching thing."
— Limp Bizkit's DJ Lethal
The lukewarm reception of new albums by Papa Roach and Korn, coupled with the partial evaporation of rap-rock and nü-metal from radio playlists, may be an early sign that these strains of rock — one marked by raps and beats blended with conventional rock, the other by a merging of melodic death metal, traditional metal and chomping beats — are about to die.

"It's just time [for a change]," Limp Bizkit's DJ Lethal said. "Some bands out there — I'm not going to say who — they just milked the hip-hop-rock-beats-scratching thing. So it's done. It's time to move on."

When one of the genre's main players acknowledges that rap-rock's reign is over while preparing Limp Bizkit's follow-up to 2000's Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water, curiosity about the tentatively titled Less Is More is piqued. Not only are folks wondering what it's going to sound like, but how — and if — the band that helped usher in a trend can grow to become career artists.

"If it's Chocolate Starfish Part 2 I don't think it'll do that great," predicted John Lenac, rock editor for radio trade magazine HITS. "Although there are a lot of Limp Bizkit fans out there, overall that sound just doesn't do as well anymore on the radio."

Given the artists who contributed to Less Is More — Weezer's Rivers Cuomo, Helmet's Page Hamilton, Korn's Brian "Head" Welch — Limp Bizkit don't appear to be retracing their steps. But even if the band goes, as Lethal described, "definitely more rock ... with pretty much zero straight hip-hop" on the album, it won't be the first group to snip the rap out of the hybrid formula that set off its career. At least one band beat Limp Bizkit to it — and has disappointing results to show for it.

In an effort to evolve musically, and perhaps sensing that rap-rock's flame was flickering, Papa Roach made a point of emphasizing the rock on their new LP, Lovehatetragedy, the successor to 2000's triple-platinum Infest. And true to their word, the album, released in June, is virtually devoid of hip-hop elements, save for a bridge in the first single, "She Loves Me Not." The song was a hit at rock radio, but subsequent single "Time and Time Again" failed to match its popularity, despite (or perhaps due to) its use in a Pepsi Blue TV spot. Unable to broaden the band's core fanbase, which allowed it to sell a very solid 135,000 copies in its first week, stands with 571,000 in total sales and has vanished from the Billboard albums chart seven months later. A gold album is nothing to scoff at, but with sales of less than 20 percent of the previous album, Lovehatetragedy has been a disappointment.

   Papa Roach
"Last Resort"
Infest
(Dreamworks)
"Lovehatetragedy really is a fantastic record, but it didn't have a hit like [Infest's] 'Last Resort,' " HITS' Lenac said. "It all comes down to a hit is a hit is a hit, and 'Last Resort' is one of the biggest hits to come out in the last five years."

Korn also felt the sting from radio's lackluster reception of their latest album, Untouchables. Its first single, "Here to Stay," made an initial splash at radio and the album debuted at #2 on the charts with nearly 500,000 copies sold in its first week. But Untouchables started to slide when its next single, "Thoughtless," failed to take off. While third single "Alone I Break" hasn't exactly been ignored by radio, the album now stands at #159 on the chart, selling just 6,000 copies per week. Follow the Leader (1998) and Issues (1999) each sold more than 3 million copies, but Korn's 2002 album looks to have hit its plateau at 1.2 million.


NEXT: 'That's why I left Limp Bizkit. I smelled it then.' ...
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Photo: Interscope

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 "My Generation"
Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water
(Interscope)



 "Nookie"
Significant Other
(Interscope)



 "Faith"
Three Dollar Bill Y'all
(Interscope)




 "Alone I Break"
Untouchables
(Immortal/Epic)



 "Falling Away From Me"
Issues
(Immortal/Epic)



 "Freak On A Leash"
Follow The Leader
(Immortal/Epic)




 "Time and Time Again"
Lovehatetragedy
(Dreamworks)



 "She Loves Me Not"
Lovehatetragedy
(Dreamworks)



 "Last Resort"
Infest
(Dreamworks)




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