White Pony is the third studio album by California-based metal band Deftones, released on June 20, 2000. It was produced by Terry Date, who had also produced the band's first two albums (Adrenaline and Around the Fur).
The album was seen and is still regarded as a turning point for the band's sound, showing notable growth and maturing of their alternative metal style through experimentation with influences from post-hardcore, trip hop, shoegazing, progressive rock, and post-rock. It was also the band's first album to feature turntablist and keyboardist Frank Delgado as a full-time band member rather than a featured guest, and also the first album where lead vocalist Chino Moreno contributed guitar parts.
White Pony was met with critical acclaim upon release, and to this day is generally considered by fans and critics alike as one of their best works. It became their first platinum record and still ranks as their highest-selling album, with the song "Elite" additionally winning them their first Grammy Award (for Best Metal Performance). The album produced a number of successful singles, most notably "Change (In the House of Flies)" alongside the promo-only "Digital Bath" (the band's only promotional single to date) and "Back to School (Mini Maggit)".
"Back to School" was actually created after White Pony's completion, the result of the band's label pressuring them to re-release the album with another hit single. They responded in frustration by rearranging the album finale "Pink Maggit" in a half-hour as a joke, turning the slow, melancholic song into a fast, in-your-face nu metal song complete with Boastful Rap to show their label how easy it was to make a hit. Not only did their label reportedly love it, but when the album was reissued shortly after initial release, "Back to School" got added to the tracklist by the execs against the band's wishes as a marketing ploy — and as the opening track, no less. It did end up becoming a successful single, but the song has since been disowned by the band.
White Pony received a 20th anniversary reissue in December 2020 that packaged the original album (cutting "Back to School" to restore the band's intended tracklist) with Black Stallion, a companion album with each song of the album being remixed by various artists (DJ Shadow, Squarepusher, Mike Shinoda, Robert Smith, etc).
Tracklist (for original release):
- Digital Bath
- RX Queen
- Street Carp
- Knife Party
- Change (In the House of Flies)
- Pink Maggit
This album contains examples of the following tropes:
- Avant-Garde Metal: This album started to show the band shift towards this and away from the conventional nu metal of their first 2 releases.
- Boastful Rap: The added rap verses of "Back to School", revolving around teen angst in a high school setting and presumably from the perspective of a bullied or ostracized kid living a fantasy of being the leader of the cliques "making [them] sick". While it's common knowledge that the verses were made with less than utmost seriousness, they have been interpreted as a metaphor for the band's opinion on the metal scene at the time.
- Bookends: The reissue places "Back to School" as the first track, which means that that version of the album begins and ends with what are basically different versions of the same song. Though "Back to School" wasn't originally intended to be part of the album, it actually sort of works, and its placement essentially turns "Pink Maggit" into a climactic reprise that ties the album together.
- Electrified Bathtub: "Digital Bath" vaguely describes killing a woman by throwing an appliance in a bathtub, hence the song name. Chino has confirmed that this is the context despite the "pretty" sound.
- Epic Rocking: The track lengths generally waver around the 3-5 minutes, but "Passenger" is just over 6, and "Pink Maggit" is 7-and-a-half.
- Glass-Shattering Sound: In the video for "Back to School", one of Chino's most intense screams in the song is able to obliterate an entire panel of glass windows.
- Lyrical Dissonance: The slow, sensual "Digital Bath" is from the perspective of someone as they kill a woman via Electrified Bathtub, which can create some serious Fridge Horror if one interprets the song's sound as implying that the narrator treats the murder as erotic, if not arousing.
- Male Gaze: Almost inevitable for a music video in a high school setting, but the one for "Back to School" contains a quick low-angle shot of a cheerleader's backside as she puts on her uniform skirt.
- Metal Scream: Chino manages some impressive screams throughout "Back to School", and also screams the majority of "Elite".
- Minimalistic Cover Art: Both versions of the cover art consist solely of an outline/silhouette of a horse against a white/grey background.
- Murder Ballad: "Digital Bath".
- Precision F-Strike: "Feiticeira" ("fuck, I'm drunk") and "Street Carp" ("there's all your evidence / now take it home and fuck with it"). The former is actually the first line of the album, which is odd for an album with minimal expletives.
- Rearrange the Song: "Back to School" is an abridged redux of "Pink Maggit" (hence its Either/Or Title "Mini Maggit") that takes the chorus and bridge of the latter song's main section, building rap verses around them with the same style of instrumentation.
- Self Empowerment Anthem: According to Chino, "Pink Maggit" was designed as one."the song is meant to be triumphant. I just imagined being the shit in school. just holding your hands in the air and knowing that nobody can take anything from you. its one of those things where, if you tell yourself that you are the shit, then you will be the shit. im trying to spread a little confidence. a lot of artists try to make songs for the kids who are tormented in school, telling them its ok to be tormented. but its not okay. don't be lazy. don't be ridiculed. become the leader of your surroundings. confidence is one of the most important things in life. if you are confident, you can do whatever you want."
- Updated Re-release: Got one in 2020 as a double album alongside Black Stallion, as well as the original tracklisting (i.e., no "Back to School").