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The 6 Best Jonathan Davis Scat Performances

We rank Jonathan Davis’ most identifiable-yet-incomprehensible Korn vocal parts.

Few frontman have as distinct and identifiable vocals as Korn’s own Jonathan Davis. His mixture of childish keening, red-faced roaring, and gothic moaning creates a sound that is both inspiring and deeply unsettling, like the voice of some possessed marionette made by a crafty meth dealer. But no aspect of Jonathan’s vocals are more widely recognized that his babbled nonsense words reminiscent of the scat vocals used by classic jazz musicians like Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Benjamin “Scatman” Crothers.

But while many people love Jonathan’s scatting style, not many remember which exact songs he uses them in, or how. So, to satisfy our own curiosity, we scoured Korn’s music and ranked what we consider the six best Jonathan Davis scat performances.

Check out our ranking below, including the mark at which you can hear Jonathan scatting. And don’t forget, kids, every day is a good to day to RRRADAduhnDAMRRRAdoDAdoDADA.

6. The “Mary had a little lamb” intro of 1994’s Shoots And Ladders (3:07)

Not technically a “scatting” part, the Mary Had A Little Lamb intro in this nursery rhyme medley from Korn’s 1994 self-titled debut is still a perfect example of Jonathan using gibbered semi-words as kinetic accent.

5. The bridge of 2016’s Rotting In Vain (2:40)

Twenty-two years later, Jonathan returned to his signature vocal style on this track from The Serenity Of Suffering. Though a little rougher around the edges — there’s even a hint of death metal in these vocals — the scat on Rotting In Vain is as quintessential a JD scat as any before it.

4. The chorus of 1996’s Wicked (1:02)

Ah, Wicked, a perfect nu-metal microcosm — half a rap track by Deftones’ Chino Moreno, half an unhinged scatting rant by Jonathan. The chorus of this track has words in it, to be sure, but their speed and incomprehensibility blur them together into the deliciously unstable sound of a sex killer mumbling in his sleep.

3. The chorus of 1994’s Ball Tongue (1:01)

The best part about the scat in the chorus of Ball Tongue is that it’s load-bearing. Created by Davis losing his mind on meth, these terrifying blasts of nonsense syllables make up an important part of the refrain of one of Korn’s most classic tracks. No bridge, no background vocal — this tweaked-out snarl takes the center stage.

2. The bridge of 1998’s Freak On A Leash (2:38)

Probably the most identifiable use of JD’s scatting is that on the bridge of Freak On A Leash, the band’s ultra-mega-super hit from 1998’s Follow The Leader. This also marks the coining of the much-loved “BOOMdadaBOOM” scat that most people imitate. Is there any vocal performance more worthy of bending violently at the waist for?

1. Twist

No track is a greater display of Jonathan Davis’ scatting skills than the opener of 1996’s Life Is Peachy, Twist. In part, this is because Twist is nothing BUT scatting — just two verses rabid babbling with no meaning other than a powerful ambient one, backed by seasick riffs and broken once by Jonathan keening “Twist!” More importantly, it’s a great big ‘Fuck you’ as an album opener, letting the listener know that Davis doesn’t feel the need to give you anything close to a single at the beginning of the band’s much-anticipated second album. This is the track you cut off Katy Perry to play at parties, the one you put on repeat when your rage just can’t be put into words.

Posted on October 15th 2019, 4:22pm
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