The Top 40 nu-metal songs of all time
Counting down the forty best songs to come from the era of red caps, baggy jeans and blue flame tattoos
It’s involved fights both in a metaphorical and literal sense, and we’re still figuring out how Apartment 26 didn’t get included, but here are the Top 40 nu-metal songs of all time!
40) Ill Niño – What Comes Around
There was a large amount of Latino influence in metal around the time and Ill Niño certainly had those elements in their songs, but on What Comes Around they shaved the rough edges down to create a sleek anthem of big riffs, DJ scratching and skyscraper vocals.
39) A – Nothing
A UK pop-punk band crashing onto a ‘best of nu metal’ list? Oh yes! The thick grooves and aggressive stomp of Nothing has much more in common with the mighty Limp Bizkit than to Blink 182.
38) Orgy – Blue Monday
Where would this list be without a nu-metal '80s cover version? The gender-bending Jonathan Davis-approved mob got in there first by cranking up the riffage on this New Order classic. This paved the way for Godhead’s Eleanor Rigby. Cheers for that.
37) One Minute Silence – South Central
Ultra-political rap rockers of Irish, Gibraltan and English descent singing about downtown LA really shouldn’t have worked, but South Central was an instant mosh‑ready anthem for the masses.
36) Issues – Hooligans
The newest of the nu. Let’s examine the facts then – purists hate them, kids love them and you’ll be dancing to them for a long time to come. Some 10 years on, nu metal’s corpse has been reanimated in fine style.
35) Deftones – My Own Summer (Shove It)
Deftones were nu-metal’s most scathing and yet fragile band. On My Own Summer (Shove It), they stretched their musical dynamics to breaking point. The ethereal verses brilliantly accentuate the paint-stripping roar of the chorus.
34) Incubus – Drive
On the verge of becoming MTV darlings, Incubus flexed their mainstream muscles with this laid-back, lovelorn, semi-acoustic effort that showcased Brandon Boyd’s vocal prowess, rather than just his six-pack.
33) Linkin Park – One Step Closer
One minute a bunch of unknowns burst onto MTV, performing in a sewer, surrounded by midget ninjas, the next minute you’re looking at the biggest band in the world. It’s all thanks to this irrepressible anthem.
32) Union Underground – Turn Me On "Mr Deadman"
Turn Me On Mr Deadman" is definitely a nu-metal anthem. With that amount of bounce, how could it not be? But this rager certainly owes more to Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson’s industrial stomp than it does to Limp Bizkit’s big-shorted shenanigans.
31) Static-X – Push It
Ol’ crazy hair Wayne Static actually looked a lot more sensible than he sounded on this, the opening track on Static-X’s debut album Wisconsin Death Drip. It’s two minutes of staccato riffs, electro pulses and crazed barks and yelps. That’s a good thing, FYI!
30) Spinshank – New Disease
They came up through the industrial metal scene but New Disease is not the sound of clunking machines. It’s catchier than bird flu, bouncier than a helium-filled Mr Blobby and should have made Spineshank stars.
29) Evanescence – Bring Me To Life
A huge goth-tinged floor-filler that turned little Amy Lee into the biggest female rock star of the 21st century (at least until Hayley Williams showed up). What happened to the rapping bloke? No idea. Tough break, bro.
28) Saliva – Click Click Boom
You can blame America for this one. While in jolly ol’ England we largely ignored Saliva, this song still ignites nostalgia-fuelled mayhem on dancefloors across the States. Those wacky Americans, eh?
27) Soulfly – Bleed
What happens when a thrash legend ropes in the most recognisable figurehead in rap-rock for the lead single on his long-awaited new band? Answer: all of the shit gets lost.
26) Snot – Snot
Yeah, the funky wah-wah guitars and punk rhythms are great, but it’s the energy of late frontman Lynn Strait that really made Snot something special.
25) NERD – Lapdance
In an era of rockers going rap, it was refreshing to see some rappers doing rock. Frankly, if they do it as well as Pharrell and co. did on this classic track, we’re bang up for hearing Tinie Tempah’s nu-metal side project.
24) Machine Head – From This Day
Did you listen to the songs or was your judgement blinded by the neon orange tracksuit and the mental video for From This Day? Nu metal Machine Head ruled. This tune slams. Get over it.
23) Incubus – Certain Shade Of Green
Before they became Red Hot Chili Peppers-aping hippies, Incubus were an eclectic mix of funk, punk, thrash and dub. Listen to this rager and despair of what became of them.
22) Hed PE – Bartender
A ragtag collection of skaters, stoners and freaks, Hed PE excelled in celebrating nu-metal’s excesses with this gangster-strutting romp about hard partying, sweet loving and heavy rocking. Not a straight-edge anthem.
21) Taproot – Again And Again
Taproot bucked the trend of macho chest‑beating with a slightly more restrained and thoughtful approach to rap‑infused metal. Again And Again is as big in chorus as it is in brain and musical invention.
20) Adema – Giving In
Adema frontman Marky Chavez was vaguely related to Jonathan Davis and suffered with Korn comparisons for years. In truth, though, Giving In actually bears more resemblance to an angrier, depressed Linkin Park than it does the Bakersfield boys.
19) Hoobastank – Crawling In The Dark
Crawling In The Dark has tempo changes so killer that they’d make System Of A Down jelly. The band may have a name that sounds a bit like ‘whose balls shrank?’ but there’s no doubt that this is a serious tune.
18) Crazy Town – Butterfly
A surprising one-hit wonder, Butterfly was a mellow, oddly sensitive, RHCP-sampling smash for Crazy Town that could have turned them into stars… if they hadn’t followed it up with the dire Revolving Door. Bye lads!
17) Limp Bizkit – Rollin'
A rap-metal Number One hit single from when the charts actually meant something. Pretend to hate it all you want, but you’ve pulled that steering wheel dance move out at every rock club you’ve ever been to. Don’t lie!
16) Korn – Freak On A Leash
By the time this single dropped, Korn had gone from underground darlings to million-selling rock stars and delivered an all-time classic video that once again raised the bar for every other nu-metal act.
15) Coal Chamber – Loco
This track is still a rock-club floor-filler to this very day. Juddering guitars, propulsive groove and Dez’s signature Cookie Monster growl are the order of the day as Coal Chamber’s standout moment made them overnight heroes.
14) Slipknot – Wait And Bleed
Slipknot were far heavier than the average nu-metal band but they still had an ear for a chorus, thanks to Corey Taylor’s then‑unheard melodic vocals. It still scared the shit out of TFI Friday viewers, mind.
13) Kid Rock – American Badass
Pretty much the perfect encapsulation of the nu-metal ideology. Yeah, a white redneck guy can rap over the top of one of the most iconic riffs of the biggest metal band of all time. And what?!
12) Mudvayne – Dig
Melding Slipknot heaviness with Tool’s polyrhythmic musical proficiency, Mudvayne carved a name for themselves with this banger. Add in the slappiest bass this side of a Primus jam session and you’re looking at a pit‑starter of the highest order.
11) American Head Charge – Just So You Know
With nu-metal reaching its commercial and most sanitised zenith, a group of loonies named American Head Charge arrived and threw everything sinister into this dark, creepy, synth-heavy pounder.
10) Disturbed – Down With The Sickness
One of nu metal’s most unique voices, David Draiman didn’t really do rapping or much singing. He did sound a bit like an angry monkey though, and his primate call on this stormer resulted in a truly iconic moment.
9) Drowning Pool – Bodies
Bringing a touch of whisky-slurping redneck to the table, Drowning Pool delivered an aural DDT of a track for those fans who were craving something a little more old-school with their nu-metal.
8) Alien Ant Farm – Movies
Best remembered for ruining Michael Jackson songs and having a foolishly gurning bass player, it’s a shame people forget AAF could craft perfect and intelligent poppy nu-metal killers such as Movies.
7) Deftones – Back To School
They may distance themselves from the term ‘nu metal’ but they were undoubtedly so here. This is all thick grooves and hip hop lyrical flow, showing that when they did go nu-metal, they could mix it with the best of them.
6) Linkin Park – Points Of Authority
Nu-metal’s biggest-selling band proved they had the balls to go with their platinum discs by smashing out this big-riffing banger. Their heaviest tune, without doubt.
5) P.O.D. – Alive
So nu metal was all about ‘woe is me’ self-loathing, was it? Try telling that to the Jah-worshipping, positive rockers who proved that the devil doesn’t have all the best tunes with this all-time classic.
4) Papa Roach – Last Resort
The most credible of the second wave of nu metal bands, Papa Roach delivered a Maiden-inspired classic that ticked all the boxes for huge hooks, gangster strutting and wounded lyrical introspection.
3) System Of A Down – Chop Suey!
Those who consider nu-metal formulaic or one dimensional obviously weren’t exposed to the schizoid bonkerness of System Of A Down. Even on their biggest hit and at their most anthemic, they sound like a loony bin running riot in a guitar shop.
2) Korn – Blind
‘Are you ready?’ You probably weren’t. With that primal scream, a tapping cymbal and some absurdly downtuned guitars, Jonathan Davis and co. single-handedly kick-started the most unlikely musical revolution in the history of hard rock.
1) Limp Bizkit – Break Stuff
Has any other song in history ever been taken so literally? This three minutes of beautifully belligerent, bouncy, ballsy, bawling continues to destroy dancefloors and festivals to this day, and rightfully lives on as nu metal’s greatest moment.
Originally published in Metal Hammer's Nu Metal Special.