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 Are rap-rock and nü-metal over? ...



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 "That's why I left Limp Bizkit.
I smelled it then." ...




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Evidence of the genres' impact remains on the airwaves in the forms of P.O.D. and Linkin Park, both of whom enjoyed success in early 2002. But unlike 2001, when Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory was the year's best-selling album with sales of more than 5 million, singles by either band just aren't surrounded by their own kind anymore.

  Linkin Park
"In the End"
Hybrid Theory
(Warner Bros.)
Bands that still manage to do well in a pared-down environment tend to have been part of the trend's upswing, like P.O.D., who were cultivating their sound for more than seven years and have the fanbase to prove it; or they excel with the formula, like Linkin Park, whose Reanimation sold more than a million copies in 2002, impressive for a remix album.

"Sure there's a lot of rap in [Linkin Park's] music, but they have great melodic hooks," said Guitar One Editor-in-Chief Troy Nelson. "Mike Shinoda raps while Chester Bennington sings these soaring choruses. They have this mass appeal — the people who are into rock and hip-hop. Plus, top 40 radio even embraced 'In the End.' It's like they have it all."

For their part, Korn and Papa Roach certainly didn't release subpar albums. Both LPs were welcomed by critics, with two writers for The New York Times ranking Untouchables among the 10 best albums of 2002. Its sales figures, however, place it as the band's worst-selling studio album. File-sharing and bootlegging have likely contributed to slumping sales for much of the industry, but without sustenance from radio, vital to an album's longevity, the odds of any new album topping the success of its predecessor are slim.

"I don't see an awful lot of loyalty to bands," said musicologist Paul Fischer, associate professor in the department of recording industry at Middle Tennessee State University, whose job it is to watch and explain musical trends. "It's all about, 'What's the buzz?' or, 'What do I have to know about?' And audiences will go with the flavor of the moment, rather than paying attention to a particular artist and watching them develop. So unless that artist generates some kind of buzz — gets on the radio or on a real hot concert tour — there's not a lot to draw attention to them to generate the sales."

  Puddle of Mudd
"Blurry"
Come Clean
(Flawless/Geffen)
If radio playlists are a reaction to the requests of listeners, and most people don't want to hear Korn and Papa Roach on the radio anymore, they certainly aren't open to second-tier acts in the genre, like Orgy, Dope and Hed (Planet Earth). Instead, they're favoring more straight-ahead rock groups like Nickelback and Puddle of Mudd, who have the top two most played songs of 2002 in "How You Remind Me" and "Blurry," respectively. This stream of middle-of-the-road rock bands doesn't necessarily mark the start of a new trend, however — comfort-food bands like Nickelback, Puddle of Mudd and 3 Doors Down tend to dominate playlists in between trends.

"The music that always seems to stick around in rock is the more straight-ahead stuff, like Nickelback and Puddle of Mudd," Guitar One's Nelson said. "It's the hooks and lyrics that never go away."

Nelson caught a taste of the changing tide the hard way. Papa Roach were selected to be the cover story of the August issue of Guitar One. After selling 3.2 million copies of their last album, the decision seemed like a no-brainer, Nelson said. But the issue wound up being one of the magazine's worst sellers of the year. Meanwhile, the issue that featured Nickelback on the cover was one of the best sellers.

One major-market radio station, Lenac said, completely removed all traces of rap-rock from its playlist over a year ago, and in one month saw a significant increase in ratings. For the majority of people in 2002, the rap-rock and nü-metal thing may have been played out.

"That's why I left Limp Bizkit," said guitarist Wes Borland, who departed in October 2001 to focus on his no-rap new band Eat the Day. "I smelled it then ... People grow up. People get tired of the same-old, same-old. Evolution is a good thing."


NEXT: Crazy Town tank, Kid Rock finds new life with country music and Limp Bizkit get ready to pull a
Madonna ...
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Photo: Immortal/Epic

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