Greatest hits albums are funny things to grade. What criteria would you use for grading such an album? Being an album showcasing the best songs of a band's career, the song quality will therefore be higher than that of most other albums. It really isn't fair to grade a greatest hits collection based solely on the quality of the songs. Is the song quality of this album very high? That is undeniable. Even though KoRn were much maligned throughout their career (and often rightly so), they managed to craft two or three killer songs every album. However, given KoRn's collection of hits, the song quality could be much higher. I am not sure how KoRn decided what songs to put on this album, but whatever way they did it, they did it poorly.
Just take a look at some of the songs included in this album. Indeed, some of the tracks on here were judged to be subpar on their original albums
. Trash is generally regarded as a pretty s
hitty song, as are Somebody Someone and Alone I Break. Many other noteworthy candidates were omitted, such as the popular singles Good God, Faget, and especially Thoughtless. And you have to wonder at KoRn's motives for including Twist. For gods sake, it's a 50 second intro song with no lyrics. The instrumentals aren't anything remotely special. It definitely does not deserve an inclusion into this collection. The remix of the hugely popular Freak On A Leash also falls quite a bit short of the par. I would much rather have seen a fun song like Let's Get This Party Started or Dead Bodies Everywhere in its place.
There were three new songs included on this album, two covers and a remix. Word Up! is a noteworthy inclusion, and actually pretty enjoyable cover of the 80's funk hit. But you can't really enjoy it fully, knowing that it sounds nearly identical to the original. The only difference is Jon Davis's crunchy whine, and I can't say that it's an improvement. The cover of Another Brick In The Wall is quite boring, in my opinion. At least it sounds more different from the original than Word Up! does. Let's face it: KoRn was not meant to make seven minute plus songs. They can make some pretty funky, fun, catchy, and short pop-metal anthems, but not much else. They don't really have the technical skill to innovate with time signatures or song structures, like Pink Floyd did. I think Another Brick In The Wall was a poor inclusion. The Freak On A Leash remix sounds really, really awkward. The odd techno beat in the background and the funky drums just sound... bad. Not a good mix. At least the added guitar riffs in the chorus sound pretty good. The new songs on this album are just not up to the same level as the rest of the songs, as is the case with almost all of the greatest hits collections out there.
Another thing that kind of bugs me about this album is the track order. Reverse chronological order is not something that I've seen before on a greatest hits album, and it sounds weird. This way, you can hear the multilayered sonic carnivals of KoRn's later works slowly regress into the raw and unshielded aggression of their earliest albums. It sounds awkward, and somewhat lessens the enjoyability factor of listening to the album straight through.
Let’s take a moment to glance at the band themselves. Nu-metal and technical skill are commonly judged as being mutually exclusive. Being the founding fathers of nu-metal, KoRn are the real life portrait of that stereotype. As a band, KoRn exhibits almost no technical skill. Munky and Head’s riffs are all simple repetitive chords, always executed with a plodding slowness. Double bass? Blastbeats? None to be found here, and I doubt the drummer David would have the skill to do any of those even if he wanted to. Even so, he adds a unique aspect to KoRn with his rap-esque beats. Probably the most audible, notorious, and known KoRn instrumentalist is the bassist, Fieldy. He is known for his very distinctive slap bass style. Although it does get incredibly annoying and infuriating quickly, it helps give KoRn’s songs a funky and catchy atmosphere that snagged so many teen listeners. Although he is much maligned, I think Fieldy deserves his props for making KoRn so famous. He was perhaps the most integral part of their huge success.
And the famous lead singer, Jon Davis. We all know about his notorious reputation and legions of dedicated haters, so let’s brush those aside and look at the facts. His vocals entirely lack range, and his timbre is whiny and annoying. His lyrics are unoriginal and generic, normally whining about his life’s hardships. While that sounded somewhat fresh, even innovative and shocking on their hugely successful self titled, he basically rehashed that album’s lyrics throughout the remainder of KoRn’s career. Davis’s lyrics are profanity laced and filled with phony and failed shock tactic attempts. Basically, they are good for setting the hook in young fans and not keeping them interested for extended periods of time. Pretty much, they are the hallmark of KoRn.
Despite all of the negatives about KoRn in general, this album is still packed with good songs. Sometimes, for reasons I cannot explain, KoRn just clicked. Those songs are really enjoyable to hear, sort of like an odd hybrid between pop and metal. Perhaps the best example of this is the famous A.D.I.D.A.S., an acronym for All Day I Dream About Sex. Munky and Head riff together, Fieldy pops and slaps, and Jon Davis croons about sex. Sound unoriginal? Well, it is. But the chorus is so damn catchy! Munky and Head riff heavier, and it all comes together for KoRn in this 2 minute masterpiece. Again, it’s nothing original, but damn is it good.
One song in particular stands head and shoulders above the rest, and is able to be appreciated on a higher level rather than simple catchiness. That song is Falling Away From Me. The opening guitar part sounds something like a baby’s lullaby. At that point, you’re thinking: “A KoRn slow song. Crap.” But then Munky and Head launch right into a distorted and heavy riff. The song transitions between these heavy riffed sections and slow, distorted ones. Finally, it builds up into one final, epic chorus. The KoRn members combine to create a reverberating wall of sound, and Jon Davis actually sings with some tune and purpose. The result is totally mindblowing, not something you would’ve expected from KoRn at all. A really special song, and definitely the highlight of KoRn’s career.
What’s up with this album overall? Basically, this showcases the times when KoRn were able to overcome their numerous shortcomings and craft some really good songs. Even if you strongly dislike KoRn, this album is enjoyable. Perhaps the only album worth purchasing from these guys. So basically, there are three areas in which this album is being graded on.
Song Selection: 1.5/5
Band Skill: 1.5/5
Overall Song Quality: 4.5/5
A tough one to grade, but I think it merit’s a 2.5/5