Release don June 5th, 2001, Drowning Pool's debut record, Sinner, is best known, of course, for including "Bodies" — the album's biggest single, and quite possibly the platonic ideal of a kick-ass nu-metal track.
Take just the first 10 seconds of the song for example. "Bodies" kicks off with one of the most badass uses of whispered lyrics ever: Let the bodies hit the floor/Let the bodies hit the floor/Let the bodies hit the floor/Let the bodies hit the … before singer Dave Williams completes the line with a blood-curdling scream over a nasty riff.
"Bodies" employs a similar build-and-release technique as other nu-metal bangers (including Korn's "Blind") — except Drowning Pool streamline the shit out of it and shove the listener right into the action. It's a simple, seriously catchy track built for listeners to yell/sing/scream along with. Upon its release, the song was a massive hit for Drowning Pool and catapulted Sinner to platinum-selling status. Sadly, it was Williams' last album with Drowning Pool, as he died of cardiomyopathy while on tour in Virginia on August 14th, 2002.
But that's not where the story of Drowning Pool, or "Bodies," ends. In the years since the song dropped it has evolved beyond just a big single for a nu-metal band — it's truly become an enduring cultural touchstone of the early Aughts. Much of this evergreen success can be credited to the song's unique versatility and the many ways it's been able to pair with or accentuate "extreme" or "badass" moments. From big-budget movie fight sequences and homemade youth sports highlight reels to SoundCloud rapper samples and graphic war footage, the song has become a go-to favorite for meme lords, film producers, YouTube creators and earnest fans alike — a phenomenon that's helped "Bodies" endure where singles by many of Drowning Pool's contemporaries have faded into obscurity.
Below, we looked back at some of the wildest, weirdest and most brutal uses of "Bodies" in popular culture. Read that list below.
XXX is about as early Aughts as it gets for film, with its extreme sports–guy plot, wild-ass car stunts, PG-13 action and Vin Diesel in the lead role of Xander Cage. Really, is there a better musical accompaniment to surfing a corvette off a bridge, bailing mid descent and parachuting to safety? It's perfect.
Jet Li's sci-fi action movie The One premiered in November 2001, just a few months after Drowning Pool unveiled "Bodies" to the world. The One producers knew what was up — and used the song to soundtrack a far-out fight scene in which Li beats the hell out of a bunch of police officers: punching them Matrix style into zero gravity while "Bodies" blasts.
WWE and nu-metal have had a beautiful relationship, most prominently in the music the brand has used for their many shows. When it came time to relaunch ECW for a new generation, they used "Bodies" as its opener to set the tone for the show's "extreme" offerings, which aimed to push the limits of their other more traditional programming.
Did you really make it as a song in the 2000s if you never appeared in Guitar Hero? There's something a little poetic about somebody playing this song while sitting on the floor — and crushing the expert-level in the most nonchalant way ever.
Internet comedian Neil Cicierega had the brilliant idea of mashing up "Bodies" with Hot Butter's "Popcorn," a synth-pop instrumental you've certainly heard at some point even if you can't call it out by name. The result, dubbed "Floor Corn," is some hellish creation that sounds like getting stuck in a very angry Chuck E. Cheese.
Sure countless garage and bar bands have put their spin on Drowning Pool's "Bodies" throughout the years — but you've reached another level when your song gets covered in a different language. Over in Russia, the band Radio Tapok translated the song into their native tongue and enlisted help from YouTuber (and Slaughter to Prevail singer) Alex Terrible, who adds some heft to the harsher vocal sections. The pairing is pretty cool and more proof of the transcendent quality of "Bodies."
In 2016, 82-year-old aerospace retiree John Hetlinger decided to roll up to America's Got Talent and bust out his karaoke chops — though (as seen in the video) it's clearly not what judge Simon Cowell was expecting. Hetlinger's take on "Bodies" is stunning — in that it simultaneously impresses and mortifies the audience. The real heads in attendance stand up and cheer him on, though Cowell, a noted lame, did not join in. Nu has no age. (Bonus: Drowning Pool showed Hetlinger some love later that year when they invited him to join them at Chicago Open Air for a run-through of "Bodies.")
Have you ever noticed that the count in "Bodies" only goes up to the number four? Probably not, because counting is not the most important aspect of the song. Psychostick, however, found it exceptionally important — and made an entire parody of the track around this fact that begins with the snarky refrain "I can only count to four." In Drowning Pool's defense, we'd argue they actually can count pretty high … to at least one million.
In more evidence of "Bodies'" eternal appeal, it's been sampled a couple of times in different rap songs. Ski Mask the Slump God interpolates "Bodies" and actually builds off of the song's count, then raps through the track's riff. Only thing we wish is that the guitar was a little louder.
If you were hoping for a more obtuse sample of "Bodies" in a rap song, look no further than Lil' B's "Connected in Jail." This is him in his prime, as the "Based God" gives a super weird freestyle while the whispers of the song continue to hit over and over. Notably, it's not even Lil' B's weirdest song.
If you were of a certain age in the late 2000s and attending clubs, the hyper mash-up style of Girl Talk should be all too familiar to you. For his 2004 album Unstoppable, Girl Talk excerpts Drowning Pool's hit song on the aptly titled "Bodies Hit the Floor." While the hook only appears a couple of times, it helps establish the bonkers tone for this super high-BPM dance whirlwind.
In an even more frantic mash-up, pro memester Cyranek merged "Bodies" with a host of other memey tracks, like Smash Mouth's "Walkin' On the Sun," DMX's "X Gon' Give It to Ya," and a bunch of others. "Bodies" never rises higher than a whisper, but it's still worth checking out if you've ever wanted to give yourself an aneurysm.
John Hetlinger's performance on America's Got Talent is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the far-reaching karaoke appeal of "Bodies." The song has inspired many fame seekers across the globe — including one contestant, Osang Soliven, on 'The X Factor' Philippines. But unlike the grump Simon Cowell, these judges are super into it — especially the one dude who can't help but head-bang along with Osang.
Clearly, Drowning Pool's "Bodies" has made many awesome and weird appearances. But we'd be remiss if we didn't acknowledge that "Bodies" has also been employed for some dark deeds — namely the U.S. government's use of the song during detainee interrogations at the Guantanamo Bay detention center. No bueno.