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Music / Korn

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From left to right: Reginald "Fieldy" Arvizu, Ray Luzier, Jonathan Davis, James "Munky" Shaffer, and Brian "Head" Welch
Something takes a part of me,
Something lost and never seen.
Every time I start to believe,
Something's raped and taken from me, from me.
Life's gotta always be messing with me. (You wanna see the light?)
Can't they chill and let me be free? (So do I.)
Can't I take away all this pain? (You wanna see the light?)
I try to every night all in vain, in vain.
— "Freak on a Leash"

Korn (often stylized as KoRn or KoЯn) are a metal band who formed in 1993 from Bakersfield, California. While they now experiment with genres like electronic music, they're known for their distinct form of alternative metal which blends funk-influenced bass playing, downtuned guitars with little to no soloing, and angsty lyrics, pioneering and popularizing a sound you may know today as nu metal.

Along with Rage Against the Machine and Faith No More, Korn were instrumental in bringing funk- and rap-inspired metal to the mainstream in the mid-to-late '90s. However, their independent nu metal style would blow up in popularity in the late '90s and early 2000s thanks to bands like Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park borrowing heavily from their style and achieving widespread commercial success. (Korn themselves would lampshade this by titling their third album Follow the Leader.)

Despite (or rather because of) this influence on an entire genre of music, Korn have often rejected the nu metal label not only for the negative stereotypes associated with it (such as its formulaic sound, "whiny" lyrics and unintentional popularity with the kind of toxically macho young men the songs are meant to demonize) but out of a personal preference to simply let their music speak for itself. It's gotten to the point that they don't even like being classified as metal; in their own words, "Korn is Korn."

As for their own presence in mainstream pop culture, though not averse to commercialism, Korn more or less live by their own principles. On the one hand, they were a staple on mid- to late-90s MTV with hits like "Freak on a Leash," "Falling Away From Me" and "Here to Stay" being shown in semi-regular rotation, as well as a reasonably successful Unplugged special. They've also released a number of remix EPs and, at the height of dubstep's popularity in 2011, recorded an entire dubstep metal album, The Path of Totality. On the other, they've never chased success and have used their early popularity to maintain a healthy "under the radar" reputation as they continue to tour and record albums (the one attempt at their record label asking them to write a single resulted in the deliberately angry and sarcastic "Y'All Want A Single"), and while they reject both labels, they remain a popular act in the heavy metal scene as one of the few truly good nu metal bands.


Current members
  • James "Munky" Shaffer - rhythm guitar, backing vocals
  • Reginald "Fieldy" Arizvu - bass
  • Jonathan Davis - lead vocals, bagpipes
  • Ray Luzier - drums (2007-present)
  • Brian "Head" Welch - lead guitar, backing vocals (1993–2005, rejoined in 2013)

Former members

  • David Silveria - drums (1993–2006)


Studio albums
  • Korn (1994)
  • Life is Peachy (1996)
  • Follow the Leader (1998)
  • Issues (1999)
  • Untouchables (2002)
  • Take a Look in the Mirror (2003)
  • See You on the Other Side (2005)
  • Untitled (2007)
  • Korn III - Remember Who You Are (2010)
  • The Path of Totality (2011)
  • The Paradigm Shift (2013)
  • The Serenity of Suffering (2016)
  • The Nothing (2019)
  • Requiem (2022)
Live albums


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    Song tropes 
  • Actor Allusion: On "Earache My Eye", Cheech Marin sings "gonna tie my pecker to a tree, to a tree" at one point, a reference to another Cheech & Chong character, Red Neck.
  • Album Title Drop:
    • "Trapped Underneath the Stairs", a bonus track for Korn III: Remember Who You Are, does this in the chorus (without the "Korn III").
    • Debatably "Shoots and Ladders", which includes a faintly whispered "Jimmy cracked corn" somewhere in the bridge.
  • Alternative Metal
  • Atomic F-Bomb: In "Y'All Want a Single", which is loooooong.
  • Audience Participation Song: "Y'All Want a Single". Before singing it, Jonathan calls out the name of the city they're in, thanks the audience for being fans and coming out to see them, and asks them to hold their middle fingers in the air and shout "Fuck that!" before singing.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": "Right Now".
    You open your mouth again, I swear I'm gonna break it
    You open your mouth again, my god, I cannot take it
    Shut up, shut up, shut up, I'll fuck you up
    Shut up, shut up, shut up, I'll fuck you up
  • Bowdlerise:
    • "A.D.I.D.A.S" had two edits, one in which every use of "fucking" is replaced with "humpin'", and another in which it was changed to Jonathan making creepy orgasmic noises.
    • The radio edit of "Y'All Want a Single" replaces every use of "fuck" with "suck," as well as changing "Fuck! That! Shit!" to "Suck! On! It!", ironically turning a profane song that just curses out the listener into an outright vulgar song where Jonathan repeatedly tells the listener to give him oral sex.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: "Daddy", from the first album, which is about how Jonathan's father didn't believe him when Jonathan told him that his babysitter was molesting him.
  • Country Matters: In the chorus of "Cameltosis", and the aptly titled "K@#Ø%!(Kunts!)"
  • Cover Version: "One", "Low Rider", "Wicked", "Earache My Eye", "Another Brick in the Wall", "Creep", "Word Up!", "Kidnap the Sandy Claws", "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," "Fight the Power", and "Would?".
  • Cluster F-Bomb: In "Y'All Want a Single", the F word appears 89 times! Many other songs, mostly on older albums, do this to lesser degrees, most notably "K@#%!" from Life Is Peachy, which uses pretty much every swear in the book. Swearing has been mostly scaled back since the untitled album, though clusters have still turned up from time to time, such as at the end of "The Darkness Is Revealing" on The Nothing.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Jonathan, of all people, gets his moments on "All in the Family." Fred Durst mostly responds to Jon's insults with "Say what, say what?", or "Oh, yeah?", or other phrases that really just exist so Fred can keep time. Jon, however, comments on many of Fred's lines. For instance:
    Fred: Nappy, hairy chest / Look, it's Austin Powers!
  • Death by Music Video: The band is killed in a car accident before the "A.D.I.D.A.S." video starts.
  • Everything's Louder with Bagpipes: Jonathan played bagpipes in high school and transferred his talent to Korn. Now at least one track per album (except in Untouchables, which has no bagpipe parts), there's gonna be bagpipes somewhere in the songs, and somewhere in the live shows.
  • Evil Laugh: There's a few that pop up in "Never Around". And what sounds like one also appears in "Insane", but it's hard to tell.
  • Forced Creativity: "Y'all Want a Single" was written and recorded in response to their record label asking for a new single for an upcoming album. The resulting single contained 65 uses of the word "fuck" alone, in addition to other expletives, and would require significant edits in order to get radio or television airplay.
    "Y'all want a single, say 'Fuck that!' — Fuck that, fuck that!"
  • Fun with Acronyms: "A.D.I.D.A.S.": All Day I Dream About Sex.
  • Guttural Growler: Whenever Davis wants to be threatening his voice goes really low.
  • Hidden Track: “When Will This End” on 'Take A Look In The Mirror' is followed after a few minutes of silence (“When Will This End” lasts until 3:38, and the hidden track starts at 9:52) by a concert recording of the band performing a cover of “One”.
  • In the Style of
  • Inelegant Blubbering: The sobbing at the end of "Daddy".
  • Intercourse with You: "Beat It Upright", which is about S and M. It's so bad that the edited version of the album it's on (Untouchables) didn't even include the track.
    • Then there's their album See You On the Other Side, which is practically full of sex songs like "Getting Off", "Inside Out", "10 or a 2-Way", "It's Me Again" and "Last Legal Drug (Le Petit Mort)". The latter song even uses a French euphemism for "orgasm" as part of the title!
    • Along with that, "A.D.I.D.A.S.", which stands for "All Day I Dream About Sex".
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: "Shoots and Ladders." Never has "Ring around the Rosie" sounded more disturbing.
  • Last Note Nightmare: The bonus track at the end of their debut, after “Daddy” and a long silence. A grainy recording of unknown origin, which consists of a couple arguing over a Dodge Dart. A bit funny considering how they argue, but the fact that it was a random tape found in a shed is a bit creepy.
  • Longest Song Goes Last:
    • The untitled album ends with "I Will Protect You" (5:29).
    • The Path of Totality ends with "Bleeding Out" (4:49).
    • A special mention to how much the band screws with this trope must be mentioned: several albums feature long songs at the end, but there are hidden tracks containing even more songs embedded within the finishing track, which don't qualify for the tropenote .
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: From "Y'all Want A Single," "FUCK! THAT! SHIT!" (or, in the radio edit, "SUCK! ON! IT!").
    • The end of "Let the Dark Do the Rest" has Jon growl "YOU! MAKE! ME! SICK!"
  • Rape as Drama: "Daddy," which was unfortunately based on a true story (it's about how Davis was sexually abused by his babysitter but nobody believed him when he called her out on it).
  • Rap Metal: Despite pioneering nu-metal, their music rarely features actual rapping outside of collaborations with Nas, Ice Cube, Biggie, Q-Tip, Xzibit and Slimkid3.
  • Rearrange the Song: The band's first demo tape Neidermeyer's Mind had the song "Alive" on it. The band reused the music as "Need To" on their first album, and "Alive" remained exclusive to the demo tape for 10 years, inspiring great interest from fans. "Alive" was eventually re-recorded for Take a Look in the Mirror to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the tape. The re-recording is in a different key and the music has been changed somewhat from the "Need To" arrangement, though the lyrics and chorus remain the same.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "Good God" is one towards a former friend of Davis.
    "It's about a guy I knew in school who I thought was my friend, but who fucked me. He came into my life with nothing, hung out at my house, lived off me, and made me do shit I didn't really wanna do. I was into new romantic music and he was a mod, and he'd tell me if I didn't dress like a mod he wouldn't be my friend anymore. Whenever I had plans to go on a date with a chick he'd sabotage it, because he didn't have a date or nothing. He was a gutless fucking nothing. I haven't talked to him for years."
  • Scatting: Davis' demented mixture of beatboxing, grunting and babbling. Curiously, there are lyrics to some of the scatting. The most extreme example, though, has to be "Twist": The entirety of the song is basically Jonathan scatting and spouting the word "twist" a few times.
  • Studio Chatter: The album version of "Clown" starts with about a minute of the band goofing around after a couple of false starts, as well as David Silveria complaining that he'd rather be playing "Twist," a song that wouldn't be recorded until the next album.
  • Take That!: Despite the lyrics being very ambiguous, "Y'All Want a Single" (especially its music video) is a song against the music business.

  • Trope Makers and Ur-Example: Of Nu Metal, for better or worse (they side with the latter).
  • The Unintelligible: Sometimes crosses into this territory.
  • The Unpronounceable: Jonathan often dives into this whenever he's Scatting.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: "Dead Bodies Everywhere" is about Jon criticizing his parents for not wanting him to be a musician.

    Video tropes 
  • Animated Music Video:
    • "Freak on a Leash", directed by Todd McFarlane.
    • "Right Now" recycles some Deranged Animation taken from the Lloyd's Lunchbox shorts, which played at the Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Animation Festival.
    • “Everything I’ve Known”, directed by Gregory Ecklund.
  • Brick Joke: "Falling Away from Me" starts where "Freak on a Leash" left off (with a security guard holding a bullet while several animated kids run past him) before the scene changes to live-action.
  • Bullet Catch: The aforementioned "Freak on a Leash" video.
  • Bullet Dodges You: Before Neo could evade bullets by hacking into the Matrix with his mind, Jonathan Davis in the video to "Freak on a Leash" could stop, alter the trajectory and repel a bullet. Mostly by beatboxing and shouting "GO!!" at it.
  • Bullet Time: Most of the "Freak on a Leash" video, as well as the damage the bullet causes.
  • Cover Drop: The "Freak on a Leash" music video starts with the cover of its album, Follow the Leader (a girl playing hopscotch on a cliff).
  • Death by Music Video:
  • Hypocritical Humor: The video for "Y'All Want a Single".
  • Lady Looks Like a Dude: The music video for "Falling Away from Me" shows a teenaged girl with Boyish Short Hair being beaten by her Abusive Father because of who she is. Feeling like a Damsel in Distress, she opens the magic box to evoke Korn's help. Just then, a group of kids arrive to help her, and she escapes through the window, never to be beaten by her father again.
  • Louis Cypher: The music video for "Thoughtless" has a bullied protagonist who goes by the name of "Frank Louis Cifer" (played by then 22-year-old Aaron Paul).
  • Monster Clown: Their video for "Clown" contains several. And a few Creepy Dolls.
  • Music Video Overshadowing: "Freak on a Leash".
  • Self-Deprecation: The video for "Alone I Break," to the band as a whole; it depicts Jonathan killing the other members of the band. And then the cameraman, possibly.
  • Take That!: In the video for "Y'All Want a Single", some of the captions say that Britney Spears' music video for "Toxic" cost $1,000,000 to make, while their video only costs less ($150,000).

    Misc. tropes 
  • Addled Addict: Brian Welch, which led to him leaving the band and converting to Christianity. By the end of his original run, he was a raging alcoholic, borderline methhead, and also had a problem with benzodiazepines, and the road warrior lifestyle was enabling all of it and was going to lead to a spectacular crash if he didn't leave of his own accord.
  • Aerith and Bob: Jonathan Davis and both drummers (David Silveria and Ray Luzier) alongside Fieldy, Munky and Head.
  • Avant-Garde Metal: If you don't consider them Nu Metal...
  • The Backwards Я: Put to good use in their logo.
  • Band Toon:
    • The Halloween Episode of South Park "Korn's Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery", a Scooby-Doo Homage. They at one point pull a Power of Rock-esque One-Winged Angel moment. The band also debuted its single "Falling Away from Me" after solving the "Scooby-Doo" Hoax. The song's content and heaviness rather surprises the townspeople gathered, as it heavily contrasts the band's sunny disposition throughout the episode.
    • Also, Jon makes an appearance as Succulentus in OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes, where everything he says consists of parodies on lyrics by Korn and similar bands.
  • The Bus Came Back: As of 2013, Head is a full-time member again. Lampshaded by an album titled The Paradigm Shift released that very year.
  • The Cameo: They can be seen on the In Extremo DVD "Live 2002"
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Korn's 2009 tour was called the "Escape from the Studio" tour as a break from recording Korn III. The tour name was ripped off from a previous Metallica tour.
  • Genre-Busting: How they view themselves, which is why they hate being classified in any genre.
  • Genre Shift: To Dubstep on The Path of Totality.
    • Then back to Nu Metal on The Paradigm Shift, although a few electro-ish elements stuck around from Totality.
  • Great Balls of Fire!
  • Iconic Item: Davis' creepy mic stand, designed by H. R. Giger.
  • The Invisible Band
  • Lead Bassist: Fieldy qualifies as a Type A (For his distinct 808-influenced bass tone), and Type D, as his rhythms are at times emphasized more than the guitars are.
  • Long-Runner Line-up: The band was the same for 12 years before Head got religious and left. David Silveria left several years later and was replaced by Ray Luzier. Head returned to the band in 2013, and their lineup has been consistent since.
  • Man of a Thousand Voices: Jonathan Davis has made an art form out of his voice, doing operatic cleans, gravelly baritones, death growls, shrieks, rapping, beatboxing, thrashy grunts, and scatting.
  • Nu Metal: The first band of the genre. They deny it, saying "Korn is Korn."
  • Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: Averted; the title of their ninth album, Korn III: Remember Who You Are.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: While much of their music from Untouchables on already had some electronic influences, the entirety of The Path of Totality was a very distinct Genre Mashup of metal and dubstep. The dubstep influences would carry over into a few songs on their more traditional follow-up, The Paradigm Shift, though they've yet to do another experimental album like this.
  • Product Placement: They had an endorsement deal with Puma in the late 90s.
  • Put on a Bus: Head, followed by David. The first returned, though.
  • Randomly Reversed Letters: Their logo is "KoЯn", though it's to look childish, not Russian.
  • The Rival:
    • Ben Folds. Korn mocked him as an opening act as a lame Cheers performer. Folds responded with the savage mocking song "Rockin' the Suburbs" (aka "Korn Sucks"), with such lyrics as "I'm rocking the suburbs / I take the checks and face the facts / That some producer with computers / Fixes all my shitty tracks".
    • Eels. The two bands didn't get along at all during Lollapalooza 1997.
  • The Rockumentary
  • Self-Deprecation: Fieldy jokes occasionally that he's not that good as a regular bassist, and that the band should hire a normal sounding bassist to mesh with his clicky slap bass style.
  • Stage Names: Head (after his big head), Munky (given he could catch things with his feet like a monkey) and Fieldy (his big cheeks led to the nickname "Gopher", then 'Garfield', which became the current one, which he claims is short for "Fieldy Snuts").
  • We Used to Be Friends:
    • Jonathan Davis and Brian "Head" Welch's friendship disintegrated after Welch decided to leave in 2004 due to his disillusionment with the band and ultimately converted to Christianity as he then denounced his time in the band before ultimately making amends with Davis in 2011, resulting in his return to the band in 2013.
    • David Silveria and the rest of the band, whose friendship ended in 2006 as Silveria left in anger following disagreements with his bandmates and since then, has made some critical comments towards his former bandmates except for James Shaffer, as he has said that he has no hard feelings for him.