Korn's 1998 smash, Follow the Leader, continues to blaze a path. As nu-metal enjoys its current resurgence in the cultural limelight, the nostalgic re-appraisal of the genre-not-genre has spotlighted its many musical high points, but also illuminated its dense history of less-than-great releases.
While so many iconic nu-metal albums are mostly remembered for one standout hit, Follow the Leader is an absolute murderer's row of stone-cold classics. Sure, the cringey "All in the Family" is best forgotten, and there are a few other tracks that are more filler than killer, but overall, Korn's third album is one of the most important and original-sounding metal releases of its time — from mega-singles "Freak on a Leash" and "Got the Life" to fan favorites like "Dead Bodies Everywhere" and "Justin."
We asked our readers — many of whom are diehard Korn fans — to pick the single greatest song on the entire tracklist. See the top five vote-getters ranked accordingly below.
Despite being the album's opener, "It's On!" is immediately followed by "Freak on a Leash," "Got the Life" and "Dead Bodies Everywhere," which weirdly makes the track feel a bit forgotten in the grand scheme of things. Fortunately, Korn lifers appreciate the magic of "It's On!," which kicks off Follow the Leader with a mighty "Come on!" grunt from Jonathan Davis that queues one of Korn's iconic, groovy breakdowns. It's an utterly explosive song. Don't overlook it.
On the other end of the tracklist lies "My Gift to You," a total sonic outlier for Korn at the time of its release. The album's seven-minute outro begins with the hum of funereal bagpipes echoing through foggy doom-metal guitars that rumble like distant thunder.
From there, Davis takes the tune in some seriously deranged lyrical directions (he claimed it was about a "weird death fetish" he and his then-wife shared), and the track ultimately concludes with scritch-scratchy vocal samples and dirgy waves of guitar. It's cool to see this criminally underrated Korn cut get some love.
It's no surprise to see this one rank among the top vote-getters, but honestly, we thought it might land higher. "Got the Life" is genuinely one of Korn's most notable songs — in fact, its video stands among the most requested clips in MTV's TRL history, which ultimately led to it getting "retired" from the airwaves due to sheer oversaturation. Can you blame those fans?
This fast and nervy staple contains Davis' majestic falsetto harmonies contrasted with his harried raps — as well as a fizzy bassline, tons of colorful guitarwork, thwacking drums and a hook that sticks around. Get your boogie on.
"Justin" is the kind of song that could've been a single on any Korn record other than Follow the Leader — an album stacked with highlights. Structurally, it follows the band's usual route by snaking between lighter verses and hard-hitting choruses, but the little embellishments within those sections make it stand out.
The whistle-y guitar noises and ad-libbed vocals during the monstrous breakdown are super playful. The cool echo effect on Davis' voice during the chorus is strangely psychedelic. And the main groove just hits especially hard.
We thought "Freak on a Leash" had a mortal lock here, but we were wrong — and we're not mad about it. Everyone knows how great that song is, but "Dead Bodies Everywhere" is also a fucking top-tier Korn banger. Musically, it's got intense whisper vocals from Davis and a funky chorus that contains one of the band's signature, haunted-nursery-rhyme refrains.
Lyrically, this is one of Davis' ultimate tell-offs to neglectful parents, as he delivers scathing barbs like, "Your dreams never achieved/Don't lay that shit on me," and "You really want me/To be a good son/Why you make me feel like no one?"
At their best, Korn meet at the intersection between hard-hitting groove, creepy atmosphere and lyrics where Davis picks the scabs of his emotional wounds and lays his trauma bare for all to see. "Dead Bodies Everywhere" is Korn at their best.