[Editor's note: Over the holiday season, SonicNet is looking back at 1999's top stories, chosen by our editors and writers. This story originally ran on Wednesday, June 30.]
Chart-topping rockers Limp Bizkit are crossing musical boundaries, speaking
the language of today's youth and, most important, giving music fans a
unique blend of the attitude and angst they so crave, artists and industry
Asked to explain the chart-topping success of the rap-rock band's sophomore
album, Significant Other, rockers, radio professionals, concert
promoters and music retailers agree Limp Bizkit are of the times.
"They're in touch and have their finger on the pulse of what young people
seem to be feeling," said Matt Case, promoter at Universal Concerts in
Seattle, adding that Limp Bizkit satisfy an audience of "diverse tastes."
Significant Other, which was released June 22, knocked the Backstreet
Boys' Millennium off the #1 spot on the charts in its first week
of release, selling 634,874 copies. Featuring the single "Nookie"
excerpt), the album finds the Jacksonville, Fla., group continuing
to explore a landscape of modern rock and metal merged with hardcore hip-hop.
"The fact that Limp Bizkit are out there doing what they do is wonderful,"
Ian Astbury, singer for the recently reunited Cult, said Wednesday. "It's
reminiscent of a lot of what I've heard before but it's done in a more
contemporary way. They're great at what they do."
Aaron Axelson, program director for KITS-FM in San Francisco said Limp
Bizkit's music embodies "the intense cross-pollination of various genres
by kids on the street."
"It really represents and personifies a badge for their generation," he
said. "This music represents their lifestyle."
The group singer Fred Durst, guitarist Wes Borland, bassist Sam
Rivers and drummer John Otto formed in 1994 in Jacksonville, Fla.
Former House of Pain turntablist DJ Lethal joined in 1996 after the demise
of that Los Angeles hip-hop group. Limp Bizkit's debut, Three Dollar
Bill Y'all$, hit stores in July of 1997.
Their musical predecessors, Korn, are widely credited with paving the way
for Limp Bizkit's success by exploring a similar style of rap-inflected
hard rock and by generating a buzz about the band.
But many, including Limp Bizkit, predict that Significant Other
is going to establish the quintet as a force of its own. "Korn set us in
front of their public and we gained our own public, and there's always
talk of, you know, being on people's coattails," Durst said in February.
"I think this record is something we're proud of because it's gonna
separate us. We're not only still in the family, but we're not going to
be considered one and the same anymore, I don't think."
The paths of Limp Bizkit and Korn first crossed in 1995, when Durst, a
tattoo artist, gave tattoos to two members of Korn after a show by that
band in the Jacksonville area. The next time Korn came through the
northeastern Florida town, they picked up Limp Bizkit's demo tape and
gave it to their producer, Ross Robinson. Labels came calling soon afterward,
and the band signed with Flip/Interscope.
Many in the industry pointed out that the so-called "family" of rock-rap
acts, which also includes such bands as the Deftones, has demonstrated
an unprecedented camaraderie that has helped secure a large and loyal
"They all do a really great job of exposing each other's music," Lisa
Worden, music director at KROQ-FM in Los Angeles, said. At that station,
DJs are spinning the Significant Other songs "Nobody Like You"
excerpt), featuring Korn frontman Jonathan Davis and Stone Temple
Pilots leader Scott Weiland, and "Just Like This" in addition to "Nookie."
Some industry people point straight to the manic "Nookie" as contributing
immeasurably to Significant Other's impressive first-week sales.
They say the song affirmed that Limp Bizkit whose only previous
hit single was their rendition of pop singer George Michael's "Faith"
can strike a nerve with original material.
" 'Nookie' is a hit record it's funky, infectious, has attitude,"
Axelson said. He added that the song shows evidence that Limp Bizkit are
developing their songwriting craft, while keeping the intensity they
debuted with on Three Dollar Bill Y'all$.
Limp Bizkit raised eyebrows in 1998 when their record label, Interscope,
bought radio time for the single, "Counterfeit," from Three Dollar
Bill Y'all$. As part of the controversial marketing strategy known
as pay-for-play, the song aired on the Portland, Ore., station KUFO (101.1)
for five weeks with an announcement that made note of its sponsor.
Afterward, "Counterfeit" was so popular among listeners that the station
added it to its regular rotation. Still, it wasn't until "Nookie" hit the
airwaves that the band really began to make its case musically.
Also subscribing to the notion that "Nookie" has been pivotal to the band's
career is Joe Kvidera, general manager at a Tower Records in Chicago,
where Significant Other sold 90 copies in less than a week. "We
never dreamed it would be so hot," Kvidera said. "We weren't expecting
it at all."
On the artist side of the industry, both Astbury and Wayne Static of the
industrial-metal band Static-X attributed Limp Bizkit's success partially
to good timing.
"Their stuff is catchy," said Static, whose band is receiving rock-radio
play with "Bled for Days." "It's just right at the right time it's
where fashion's at and where music's at."
(Staff Writer Chris Nelson contributed to this report.)