10 Biggest Nu Metal Hits

Back to the '00s...

logo
Ultimate Guitar
10 Biggest Nu Metal Hits
6

Nu-metal was a big thing in the '00s but now the nu-metal scene is kinda dead so let's remember some of the most acclaimed songs of the genre.

Before starting the list, here are honorable mentions:

  • Godsmack - I Stand Alone
  • Static-X - The Only
  • Mudvayne - Dig
  • Ill Niño - How Can I Live
  • Taproot - Poem
  • Adema - The Way You Like It
  • Spineshank - New Disease
  • Mushroomhead - Sun Doesn't Rise
  • Nonpoint - In the Air Tonight
  • Coal Chamber - Loco

Let's start it!

10. Papa Roach - Last Resort

Most famous line:

"Cut my life into pieces
This is my last resort..."

This was the first official single for Papa Roach - and it's their biggest hit until today. They recorded for an independent label for five years before signing with Dreamworks. Papa Roach's Tobin Esperance says the band did not expect "Last Resort" to be as big as it was: "No one ever thought it was going to be a huge, huge hit, but I guess you never expect anything, really, when you're first starting out." Originally written for a good friend of the band, the song is described by the lead singer Jacoby Shaddix as "cry for help."

9. Drowning Pool - Bodies

Most famous line:

"Let the bodies hit the floor
Let the bodies hit the floor..."

Released in May 2001, the song is Drowning Pool's signature song and has been featured in various films, TV programs, and advertisements since its release. It was written when the band's uitarist C.J. Pierce came up with the riff, and lead singer Dave Williams added the line "Let the bodies hit the floor," which became the basis for the song.

8. Limp Bizkit - Rollin'

Most famous line:

"Keep rollin' rollin' rollin' rollin'..."

"Rollin' (Air Raid Vehicle)" was a second single by Limp Bizkit from their third album "Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water." A remix of the song titled "Rollin' (Urban Assault Vehicle)," featuring hip-hop artists DMX, Redman and Method Man and produced by Swizz Beatz, was also featured on the album. This hip-hop version is how the song was conceived. "Rollin' was originally going to be just a straight Hip-Hop song," guitarist Wes Borland told. "But after we heard it, we were like, 'No, man, we've got to turn this into a Rock song.' We liked both versions so much that that's what it ended up being, two versions: a Hip-Hop version of the song and a Rock version of the song."

7. P.O.D. - Alive

Most famous line:

"I feel so alive
For the very first time..."

Released in July 2001 as the lead single from their fourth studio album "Satellite," "Alive" is arguably the band's most popular song. P.O.D. writes their music first, and before they added lyrics to this track, they referred to it as "Beautiful," since that's how the music made them feel. Sandoval wrote appropriately upbeat words to match the music.

6. Disturbed - Down With the Sickness

Most famous line:

"Ooh-wah-ah-ah-ah!.."

One of Disturbed's best-known songs and a concert staple, "Down With the Sickness" was released as the third single from their debut studio album, "The Sickness." It features a famous "ooh-wah-ah-ah-ah" staccato noise from Disturbed's singer David Draiman at the end of the intro, which reappears from time to time throughout the song. Draiman has stated the sound was made possible by effects on his vocal cords after receiving surgery for acid reflux, but he has dismissed the rumor the noise was actually caused by heartburn, further explaining, "I mean the song originally was written and just had a pause. Mikey's [drummer Mike Wengren] beat is just so tribal and you know it just made me feel like an animal... [The noise] came out one day."

5. Deftones - My Own Summer (Shove It)

Most famous line:

"Shove it, shove it, shove it!.."

This was the biggest hit for the Deftones, who released their first album in 1995 and spent time opening for Ozzy Osbourne and Korn. It was written in Seattle during the hot summer of 1994. Trapped inside of his room by the heat and sun, Chino Moreno boarded up his windows with aluminum foil and wished for "An apocalyptic-type thing" where all of the people on the streets would disappear and the sun would go away. He called this dream world "his own summer," which is where the song title comes from.

4. Linkin Park - In the End

Most famous line:

"I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn't even matter..."

Most of you won't probably remember, but yes, there was a time when Linkin Park were a nu-metal band. The lyrics in this one are based on the struggles lead singer Chester Bennington went through growing up. He was often picked on. Mike Shinoda: "I remember putting this together in our rehearsal studio on Hollywood and Vine, working overnight in a room with no windows. I had no idea what time of day it was; I just slept when I was tired, and worked on this song until it took shape. The first guy to hear it was Rob, who told me (I'm paraphrasing) that this was 'exactly the kind of song he wanted us to write.'"

3. Slipknot - Wait and Bleed

Most famous line:

"I wander out where you can't see
Inside my shell, I wait and bleed..."

The first big hit by Slipknot is about a man who keeps having repetitive black and white dreams about laying in a bathtub full of his own blood with his wrists slit. One day he wakes up and sees that his dream has become a reality, but he doesn't want to believe it and he tries to fall back asleep again.

2. Korn - Freak on a Leash

Most famous line:

"Something takes a part of me
Something lost and never seen..."

The video won two MTV Video Music Awards, one for Best Rock Video and another for Best Editing. It features a bullet speedily traveling through scenes of children playing and in school, among other things. It was based on an old Public Service Announcement about gun control. Lead singer Jonathan Davis wrote the lyrics about the music industry, which he compares to an owner walking a dog. While he's this freak being paraded around, corporate America is making all the money... and it's taking a part of him.

1. System of a Down - Chop Suey!

Most famous line:

"I, cry, when angels deserve to die
DIIIIEEE!.."

This was the first single from System of a Down's second album, and their breakout hit. The band feels they evolved a great deal between albums and did things on this that they wouldn't have thought of before. The original name of the song was "Suicide," but Columbia Records made them change it to make it radio friendly. In the beginning of the song, you hear Serj say "we're rolling suicide." The title is a bit of a play on words - "Suey-cide."

That's all! Feel free to most your favorite nu metal songs in the comment section below.

75 comments sorted by best / new / date

    beggar__
    System of a Down - Chop Suey! Most famous line: Wake up! djfahgkjadhfgkadhfknadnkasjnksnajdljsdlmkads make up!
    shackleford462
    And Freak on a Leash too:   "Boom na da noom na na NEMA Da boom na da noom na naMENA"
    inlpwetrust
    Man do I love each and every one of these songs. Nu-metal may be ridiculous in terms of bands' appearances and behavior (I cringe at Korn's late 90s documentary) and lyrical content, but I will defend the music itself - a lot of nu-metal songs are catchy in a good way.
    soundsabbath
    I agree, there was a lot shit but there were some serious tunes back then and without it my musical landscape would quite likely be very different.
    travislausch
    A lot of the most popular nu-metal bands were actually pretty fucking wicked. Deftones, Korn, SOAD and Mudvayne get tons and tons of props from music snobs. For me, it's mostly all the also-rans that killed it. Like most of the bands in the "honorable mentions". It just kind of became a fad that became too big. Sad thing is, it's like that with a lot of metal subgenres. Djent is a lot like that: the bigger bands are actually quite incredible, but then there are just so many copycats that are kind of "meh".
    Panasonic3
    I wonder how much bull shit rock has been made by nobodies since Elvis; I don't think this phenomenon is exclusive to just metal.
    The Judist
    hey you hey you. Twisted transistor
    canoenascar12
    by david silvera's own admission, they didn't write that album. their lone mistake album. all the rest, except for take a look in the mirror, are great in their own way. lets hear your lyrics?
    qrEE
    I got some lyrics... "Putty. Putty. Putty. Green Putty - Grutty Peen. Grarmpitutty - Morning! Pridsummer - Grorning Utty! Discovery..... Oh. Putty?..... Armpit? Armpit..... Putty. Not even a particularly Nice shade of green. As I lick my armpit and shall agree, That this putty is very well green."
    Northernmight
    Anyone remember Cradle of Filth? They weren't NU-Metal, but those guys pretty much infiltrated the mainstream at one point. And looking back on it, some of it is REALLY fucking good.  Did that recently, and it just kinda surprised me. Should get more credit.
    sleopold11
    Whether or not you liked the genre is somewhat irrelevant. I rocked Hybrid Theory and Meteora pretty hard back when I was in high school. The music may have been commercial and poppy, but I thank it for being my gateway to more interesting music. It also contributed to my interest in learning guitar. Then again, I tend to bitch about modern pop music like it was ever meant to appeal to me. "Damn, kids and their Ed Shereen!" Maybe there is some kid out there enjoying that stuff who will be the next guitar virtuoso or start the next musical revolution. You never know.
    canoenascar12
    hybrid theory is still a fantastic album. when I feel like I'm going too far down the road of "anything with 8 strings and weird timings is good", its a really good reality check album for me to remind me that being pretentious isn't why I got into music. I got into music for great songs, not for calculus class on hybrid theory, they meant it and wrote every word. meteora was them caving to their label wanting a more radio friendly version of meteora. then they did linkin park with retro rock guitars, then they did a couple really cool industrial albums, then they did a really cool version of a hardcore punk album, then they did this new thing that just isn't right. 
    LoseTheGenre
    Rollin' is also a candidate for worst lyrics of all time.
    canoenascar12
    actually, nikki minaj, ja rule, jay z, 50 cent, slayer, all the devil bands from norway. also radiohead has had some really crap lyrics about being british and intentionally weird (which I feel bad saying because some of thom's lyrics are fantastic). plus there are a whole lot of tween pop people where its all about synchronized dance moves and showing your clit on mtv instead of the music, but where are your remarks about them? let us also not forget that singer right now, the weekend. many of his lyrics are about hard drugs, and that's what a lot of young kids are listening to right now. he makes me want to take away freedom of speech. good old Freddy d isn't so bad. on the whole gold cobra album he did a really good job. so you are wrong. 
    LoseTheGenre
    Opinions can be wrong eh? And even if they can be (which they can't), this one isn't.
    Dannym95
    Glad My Own Summer (Shove It) made the list over Back to School (Mini Maggit), which is not only overplayed on music channels but is by far Deftones' worst song. Direct your attention instead to Pink Maggit.
    BentheScrivener
    Pretty sure Deftones themselves don't like Back to School. If I remember correctly the label were pushing them for 1 more single so they cut up Pink Maggit and put some rap over the top to prove the label would accept anything
    Dannym95
    Yeah, true. I just find it infuriating that it's the song that Kerrang/MTV rocks etc play the most from Deftones, like they don't realise the band basically made the song half arsed on purpose
    fafa1234
    System Of A Down is NOT NU-METAL.
    matteo cubano
    just cuz you don't like most nu metal doesn't mean the nu metal you like isn't nu metal
    StrongLikeBull
    They aren't though. Nu-metal's main thing was the hip-hop influences, so isn't synonymous with early 2000's metal. 
    mckenna64
    You could say that about a number of bands on the list. Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach, POD, Slipknot and Linkin Park are the only ones with rapping and hip hop DJs on the albums. Korn went down that route with Follow the Leader, but before that they had no hip hop sound, and they are usually credited with RATM and Faith No More as starting nu metal.
    StrongLikeBull
    I think the point is just that the No 1 spot was taken by a band that isn't really Nu-Metal. Not that the list overall was wrong.
    Nethero
    I always classified Nu Metal as simply being metal that you could play on a ghetto blaster with the volume so high that the whole song clips, but is still somewhat understandable somehow.
    Dynamight
    Yeah I gotta say I never associated them with Nu metal... to me they just don't have that vibe.
    qrEE
    as someone who likes Nu Metal *and* likes System of a Down... SOAD is not Nu Metal. Their sound is formed from a completely different area of music. They are a combination of essentially Hardcore Punk and Armenian Folk music, with some minor Metal influence (mostly the production and drop-tunings), and some other influences including some Queen-like experimental elements. SOAD has a passing resemblance to Nu Metal on their first two records, but that doesn't mean anything. Tool also had a passing resemblance to Nu Metal on Undertow, but nobody calls them Nu Metal, because they aren't... and SOAD isn't either.
    Parthan
    I'd hardly call the metal influence in SOAD's music "minor" though. Most people thought of them as a thrash metal band when they first arrived. IIRC Limp Bizkit was also considered "Rapcore" which was supposed to be for bands fusing hardcore/punk and hip-hop/rap. "Nu-Metal" like most genre tags is not a hard and fast distinction. All these bands, plus RATM and FNM fall under the alternative metal tag, which itself falls under the alternative rock tag. Godsmack is equally considered both nu-metal and post-grunge, but does that mean other post-grunge bands like Candlebox and Tantric are also nu-metal? *Probably* not. At the end of the day, it is mostly pointless arguing about whether a particular band falls into a particular genre or not. SOAD kicks ass regardless of what genre it is. Maybe a passing resemblance was enough for it to be considered at least partially Nu-Metal.
    qrEE
    this is just my opinion but I think genre has to do more with lineage than with sound. For example, Converge is Metalcore, even though people can argue all sorts of other genres for them, but they're Metalcore because they came from a scene of Hardcore bands that experimented with Metal ideas, thus where the term "Metalcore" comes from. FNM, RATM, and Mr Bungle are all bands that may have influenced Nu Metal, but they came from different scenes. FNM in particular came from an 80's Funk Metal scene that included bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers (their early days), Living Colour, as well as lesser known bands like 24/7 Spyz. 24/7 Spyz would *never* be referred to as Nu Metal even though they combine Funk, Rap, Metal, and Punk in various ways. Rage Against the Machine was basically the *last* band to come out of that late 80's early 90's Funk Metal scene. Nu Metal is somewhat of a "Post-Funk Metal" genre, as the genre is sort of a musical response to those previous bands and it highly emphasized angst, atmosphere, and screaming, and employed heavier usage of rap, industrial and electronic elements.  SOAD simply doesn't fit in that even though they share some similarities. I'd also argue that 311 shares *some* similarities to Nu Metal but it'd be absurd to call them the same thing.
    zack2k
    as a Kid I really really love Nu Metal genre, well I choose it because it was "hip" and "Cool" to hang out with other kids.  I only listen to those for nostalgic purposes. But as I grow older, I find that half of System's song is/was under quarter progressive and half experimental, even though I'm nearly 30's? it's quite hard to decipher their unique sound.
    Parthan
    It's pretty amazing that a band as weird and progressive as SOAD was that they became as big as they are. I feel like SOAD was a huge influence on bands like SikTh and Protest the Hero, who are themselves pretty influential on today's metal bands.
    MetalRock4ever
    Good times Shame I missed most of it when nu-metal was popular; was too young at that time. But I do remember rocking out to most of these tunes (still do)
    gehrke11
    Is that really what Wait and Bleed is about? The lyrics don't seem to mach up with that description 
    HugoPan
    In the End made me listen to rock/metal. good times, altough, beside from that, I do not miss this time in music at all.
    mysticguitar77
    Heh, I think the honorable mentions list is better than the actual top 10... Weird song choices too for some of the honorable mentions. Out of all the quintessential nu-metal Nonpoint songs, "In The Air Tonight" gets the nod? And you know, the lack of a Sevendust or Skindred mention is unforgivable.
    False_God
    All songs I would gladly never listen to again, expect drowning pool maybe.
    joshuaree82
    Too Bad sevendust never made it on the list...Would've been nice if Enemy or seasons was on the list
    avatarofwhoa
    One nu-metal band that was sort of short-lived and/or overlooked; kidneythieves. Their song "Before I'm Dead" was featured on the soundtrack to Queen Of The Damned. That movie may have been a steaming pile for the most part, and nothing like the books, but the soundtrack was a nu-metal masterpiece. Jonathan Davis wrote all of LeStat's songs for the film, providing vocals for them, and then got a ton of guest vocalists for the soundtrack versions. I mean, it even included songs by Deftones, Marilyn Manson, Papa Roach, Godhead, Disturbed, Static-X, Earshot, Dry Cell, and Tricky. No matter what you think of the movie, if you're a fan of nu-metal, you need to check out that soundtrack. I would also mention the Freddy VS Jason soundtrack as being in the same category of "shit film, dope soundtrack", but that was more NWOAHM than nu-metal. 
    Anjohl
    No Devin Townsend on the list? No Meshuggah? I guess they never had any hits per se, but they're still suler popular Numetal bands.
    IbanezJFS
    Anyone else notice that most of these bands/songs have nothing in common? Its almost as if Nu Metal doesn't have any real guide lines.
    KosherRider
    Fact: if you'll try to google something like "ooh wah ah ah ah" or "oh ah ah ah" Down With The Sickness will be in top lol
    BwareDWare94
    Does this represent the best of nu metal, though? Bands like Flaw perfected the sound, only to fall under the radar. Through the Eyes was such a raw, intense album, and Endangered Species was special in its own way, too. "Medicate" might be the best song to ever come of the nu metal genre.