23 killer rock songs with the most weirdly random song titles
From unnecessarily long and wordy titles to phrases that just make you go, ‘Eh?!’, these bands have been particularly imaginative when it comes to naming songs…
Spotify was still a pipe dream back in 2001. Hell, MP3 players were just becoming mainstream following Apple’s launch of iTunes and its newfangled iPod gizmo. YouTube wouldn’t exist for another four years, let alone be a new music discovery network. Enter: Kerrang!.
Since 1981, K! has been essential for fans of heavy music hoping to find out about which acts are out there ripping up the scene and actually worth your time. And the release of the double-disc Kerrang! The Album (coinciding with our 20th anniversary) offered a hit-heavy, one-stop shop for listeners looking to acquaint themselves with rock’s hottest new sounds without smashing their bank account and ending up with a pile of CDs waist-high.
From globe-straddling nu-metallers (Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park) to rising Brit rock behemoths (Feeder, Ash) and representatives of heavy music’s old school (Sepultura, Fear Factory, Machine Head), the whole spectrum of outsider culture seemed to be represented, with many artists at the height of their powers or on the cusp of breakthrough success.
To mark the 20th anniversary of Kerrang!’s first full compilation (we have done many more since), we thought it’d be interesting to check out how those bands were doing two decades down the line…
Limp Bizkit (My Generation)
Fronted by red-capped figurehead Fred Durst, Limp Bizkit were poster boys for the outlandishness and bone-headed machismo of the nu-metal movement. Delightfully-titled third album Chocolate Starfish And The Hot Dog Flavored Water had made them one of the biggest bands on Earth and would go on to 6x platinum success. In 2021, they’ve managed three further albums, weathering the short-lived departure of master guitarist Wes Borland, and as of June they’ve teased that 35 instrumentals are ready to complete for long-awaited seventh LP Stampede Of The Disco Elephants.
Puddle Of Mudd (Control)
Kansas City rockers Puddle Of Mudd were still very much on the up in summer 2001, with triple-platinum debut Come Clean set to drop in late August. Although it wasn’t anywhere near as successful as second single Blurry or the album’s smashing fourth She Hates Me, the twanginess and general lack of lyrical self-awareness of Control (‘I love the way you look at me / I love the way you smack my ass’) was emblematic of “alt” in the nu-metal era. The band are still around, having dropped fifth LP Welcome To Galvania in 2019, though they’ve attracted more press recently for frontman Wes Scantlin’s jaw-dropping cover of Nirvana’s About A Girl.
Deftones (Back To School (Mini Maggit))
Tellingly, Deftones disdained Back To School (Mini Maggit) – a rework of the superb seven-minute Pink Maggit – as their attempt at a hit single, produced specifically for the re-release of seminal third album White Pony. It’s still one of the most intriguing, densely-textured works on Kerrang! The Album, mind: the work of one of the best bands of their generation at the top of their game. Bassist Chi Cheng was seriously injured in a car crash in 2008 and tragically died in 2013, but a further six albums into their story (ninth LP Ohms dropped in 2020), the Sacramento mob are one of the most revered in all of rock.
Wheatus (Teenage Dirtbag)
When it was featured on the soundtrack to 2000’s Jason Biggs-starring teen comedy Loser, Teenage Dirtbag became one of rock’s biggest one hit wonders, with Wheatus’ self-titled debut even going platinum in the UK off the back of it. Although that record’s cover of Erasure classic A Little Respect – and a collaboration with Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson on 2002 single Wannabe Gangster – raised eyebrows, they never quite scaled the same heights. Four albums later, they’re still fighting the good fight, though, with frontman Bruce B. Brown the only surviving original member. Last year’s Hump’em And Dump’em single was their most recent noteworthy release.
Feeder (Buck Rogers)
Feeder had already dropped two albums full of catchy Brit rock promise, but it was gleefully odd hit single Buck Rogers – and parent album Echo Park – that ensured they’d be one of the biggest bands in the country. Overcoming the suicide of drummer Jon Lee in 2002, they actually headlined Download Festival’s experimental “indie day” in 2005, but have since settled more comfortably into selling out academy-sized venues around the world, dropping a further seven excellent albums along the way.
Filter (Hey Man, Nice Shot)
Formed all the way back in 1993, Cleveland alt.rock powerhouse Filter (fronted by ex-Nine Inch Nails guitarist Richard Patrick) dropped two albums during the ’90s, and were a relatively well-known force by 2001. Indeed, Hey Man, Nice Shot was actually the lead single to their 1995 album Short Bus. Despite having broken up in 2003 and shifting through several line-ups over the years, they’ve managed a further five albums, with eighth LP Murica – conceived as a direct follow-on to Short Bus – supposedly scheduled for later in 2021.
Bloodhound Gang (The Ballad Of Chasey Lain)
Name checking (relatively) famous North Carolinian adult film star Chasey Lain in the song’s title, even the uninitiated were able to formulate an image of Pennsylvanian rap-rockers Bloodhound Gang. Three albums in at this point, with their single-laden classic Hooray For Boobies dropping in 1999, these were musicians from the alternative scene’s gross-out extremities, but the stream of hilariously crude earworms just kept coming. They only released two more albums after HFB (both underrated) and although they never officially broke up, bassist Evil Jared Hasselhoff’s commented in 2017 that they would only come back if Donald Trump was impeached.
Ash (Burn Baby Burn)
Ash had found enormous success with their debut album 1977, even inadvertently headlining the main stage at Glastonbury in 1997, but frontman Tim Wheeler fell into a depression after the lukewarm reception to its follow-up Nu-Clear Sounds. Burn Baby Burn was one of the bangers he wrote on returning to Northern Ireland to reconnect with his pop-rock roots. Twenty years later, guitarist Charlotte Hatherley has departed, but the band are still a major Brit rock force back in their original three-piece format, with 2018’s Islands album the latest in a slew of acclaimed LP and single releases.
My Vitriol (Always Your Way)
Releasing debut album Finelines in March 2001, then breaking-up in October 2002, there was a time when London alt.rock trio My Vitriol looked an awful lot like a flash in the pan. That was a real pity, too, as their shoegazey throwback sound had been so much of an antidote to the gaudier nu-metal that still seemed to be ruling the roost in the early-2000s. Fortunately, they would reform for two striking 2007 EPs and 2016 full-length The Secret Sessions, and they’re still a going concern today.
Raging Speedhorn (The Gush)
Merged from the remnants of Soulcellar and Box, Northamptonshire heavy metallers Raging Speedhorn were a major force between 1998 and 2008, with The Gush appearing as a bonus-single on the UK edition of their self-titled 2000 debut. Three more albums would follow before that 2008 break-up, but they’ve come back stronger than ever after a 2014 reunion, with 2016’s Lost Ritual and 2020’s aptly-titled Hard To Kill reaffirming their credentials. They’re still a British metal festival staple all these years down the line, featuring heavily on this year’s post-COVID bills.
The StepKings (Imbalance)
New York alt.metal trio The StepKings burned bright and fast. First EP Seven Easy Steps and 1999’s debut album Let’s Get It On – from which the smashing Imbalance was lifted – saw them gain a cult following, and support legends like Stormtroopers Of Death and Vision Of Disorder. Following 2002’s 3 The Hard Way, though, they seemed to flame out. Kevin Moy’s intriguing 42-minute rockumetary – named after that last album – is up on YouTube for all to see.
Vacant Stare (Come Face Up)
Leaving a similarly short, sharp mark on music history, Maidenhead groove metallers Vacant Stare combined a little of the nu-metal aesthetic (turntable alert!) with a more grounded sense of heaviosity. Come Face Up was their undisputed lynchpin on both 2000 EP Inducing Crime, Disorder And Fear and 2002 album Vindication, but they never really followed it up, sadly dropping out of the Brit-metal conversation shortly thereafter.
Cutting through the misogynist bedrock of so much nu-metal, Canadian all-female outfit Kittie proved that women were every bit as capable of wielding outlandish looks and larger-than-life sounds. Built around the core duo of sisters Morgan and Mercedes Lander – who were 17 and 15 respectively on debut LP Spit’s 2000 release – the Ontario quartet traded in a pulse-quickening combination of snarling riffs and punkish spunk (a blend of Korn’s heaviness and the riot grrrl attitude of Hole and L7) and lyrics dealing with sexism, hatred, ignorance, betrayal and bullying. Five albums followed between 2001 and 2011, and although they’ve not played a show in some time, they’re still technically together today.
Coming along a few years too late for the grunge phenomenon, Seattle alt.rockers VAST proved that there were still some striking sounds emanating from America’s Pacific Northwest. Taken from 2000’s second album Music For People, Free (particularly that music video) feels incredibly of-its-time, but it’s still something of an earworm a generation later. They’re still very active, with five further albums and countless peripheral releases pouring out up to 2018. Eighth album Black Magic is still to be released.
(Hed) PE (Killing Time)
Among the founding fathers of rap-metal, Huntington Beach, CA’s (Hed) PE – the PE stands for Planet Earth – had built something of a reputation by 2001. Held up against the rampant nu-metal craze, their sound was punkier and more gangsta, with a little world music creeping into 2000’s Broke, from which the deliciously abrasive Killing Time was taken. They’ve traversed many genres over the 10 LPs that followed since, but 2020’s, er, Class Of 2020 heralded a welcome return to their G-Punk roots.
Guano Apes (Dödel Up)
Formed in 1994 in Göttingen, and fronted by the inimitable Sandra Nasić, German funk-metallers Guano Apes managed to stand out from an already loud crowd with their sheer schizoid personality. Dödel Up was the head-spinning fourth single from second album Don’t Give Me Names, and they’ve kept going over a further three albums up to 2014’s Offline. They’re scheduled to play European festival dates once COVID subsides and, having revisited their music for the first time in an age, we’d be damn tempted to go along.
Cold (Just Got Wicked)
A far bigger deal in America than Europe, Jacksonville post-grunge outfit Cold still managed to make an impact on British shores at the start of the noughties, mainly thanks to 2000’s 13 Ways To Bleed Onstage, from which the surging Just Got Wicked was lifted, and 2003’s Year Of The Spider, with particularly moody single Wasted Years. Despite a short hiatus between 2006 and 2008, they’re still churning out records of underrated atmospheric quality, with The Things We Can’t Stop arriving most recently in 2019.
Downer (Last Time)
Coming out of Orange County, California, surprisingly playful-sounding metalcore crew Downer (there are ever-so-faint Offspring vibes in there) found themselves sharing stages with the likes of Korn, Deftones and Sublime, and signed to Roadrunner Records for 2001’s self-titled major label debut. Listening back to Last Time, you can see where they fit in, but, feeling lost in the tidal wave of overly-similar artists at the time, the group decided to call it a day that September.
Working with Rage Against The Machine / Biffy Clyro producer ‘GGGarth’ Richardson, LA four-piece Spineshank were in good hands at the turn of the millennium, staking their claim at the industrial end of the nu-metal spectrum with tracks like Synthetic and one of the era’s defining albums, The Height Of Callousness. With the world moving faster than they did, Spineshank only managed two further LPs (2003’s Self-Destructive Pattern, 2012’s Anger Denial Acceptance), though 2003 Japanese B-side Infected did just pop up on Spotify last September, teasing that there might be life in the beast yet.
Machine Head (From This Day)
Although Oakland warriors Machine Head had been held up as defenders of the old-school metal ways for much of the 1990s, when they decided to dabble in nu-metal they went the whole hog. Cringy tracksuits and PVC aside, From This Day from 1999’s The Burning Red was proof that they could do it as well as anyone. Pulling themselves back onto the metal wagon with 2003’s From The Ashes Of Empires and 2007’s stunning The Blackening, they managed to get back into purists’ good books, too, and although there have been newsworthy line-up instabilities over the last few years, with Robb Flynn at the helm, they remain one of the most important outfits in American metal.
Linkin Park (One Step Closer)
The Californian collective already looked like the biggest rock band in the world just months after the release of debut LP Hybrid Theory, with One Step Closer just one of many enduring highlights, but few could have imagined how important – or tragic – their story would turn out to be. Shifting through progressive hip-hop (A Thousand Suns), abrasive alt.metal (The Hunting Party) and expansive experimental pop (One More Light), no other band in the modern era so skilfully combined mainstream-conquering success and the pushing of their own artistic boundaries. The surviving members have remained generally quiet since the 2017 death of great frontman Chester Bennington but, come whatever may, their legacy is already set in stone.
Incubus (Pardon Me)
The crunchy, scratched-vinyl sound of Pardon Me – the lead single from 1999’s Make Yourself – was key in making Calabasas, CA’s Incubus absolutely massive. To their enormous credit, these beach boys rode that success away from the restrictive nu-metal genre into which they had been pigeonholed, in favour of the breezier, artier, more easygoing sounds of 2001’s Morning View and 2004’s A Crow Left Of The Murder. In keeping with that laid-back aesthetic, they’ve not played a whole lot in recent years, but those of us fortunate to catch them can confirm they’ve lost none of their sun-baked cool.
Marilyn Manson (The Beautiful People)
Marilyn Manson released nine albums after Antichrist Superstar, from which The Beautiful People was taken. In recent years, he – Brian Hugh Warner – has faced multiple accusations of serial abuse, subsequently splitting from his management and being dropped by his record label. In a February 2021 statement, he denied the allegations against him.
Kid Rock (Bawitdaba)
One of the most memorable oddities of the early-2000s was the infiltration of country-fried hip-hop icon Kid Rock into the world of real hard rock. Of course, nu-metal had left the door wide open, and his hijacking of Metallica’s Sad But True instrumental for 2000 single American Bad Ass was a hell of a bold move, but he always stood out like a sore thumb slammed in the tailgate of a pickup truck. He’s still an absolute superstar, of course, having dropped six further albums since 2001 and shifted over 35 million records worldwide.
Fear Factory (Linchpin)
Despite dropping six years after seminal 1995 benchmark Demanufacture, Linchpin, the lead single from 2001’s Digimortal is the song most responsible for ensuring Fear Factory’s continued ubiquity in rock clubs two decades down the road. Arguably the most consistent of industrial metal’s heavyweight exponents, Fear Factory have pounded out six further albums, including Aggression Continuum, which just dropped on June 18, 2021. With frontman Burton C. Bell having recently left the fold, though, the future is very much unwritten.
Amen (Coma America)
The first track on Amen’s self-titled major label debut, and their first-ever single as a band, Coma America told fans pretty much everything they needed to know about the Californian hardcore punks. With frontman Casey Chaos to the fore, their combination of smashing, vaguely-politicised punk attitude and nu-metal luridity caught the ears of many a disaffected youth. 2000’s excellent We Have Come For Your Parents and 2004’s Death Before Musick round-out their discography for now, but rumours of a fifth album – with ex-Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo behind the kit – have been in circulation for years. We live in hope…
White Zombie (Super-Charger Heaven)
One of the odder inclusions on Kerrang! The Album, this cut from legendary New York groove metallers White Zombie was featured three years after they had effectively broken up. That’s not to take anything away from its slamming quality, mind. Indeed, with frontman Robert Bartleh Cummings (aka Rob Zombie) having moved onto vertiginous new heights as a solo artist – his second album The Sinister Urge dropped that year – it was high time to direct newcomers back to the brilliance of his old band.
Monster Magnet (Heads Explode)
Having been around since 1989, and with outstanding fourth album Powertrip dropping three years before, New Jersey stoner-rockers Monster Magnet were pretty much at their peak in 2001. You can see it in the swaggering music video for Heads Explode from 2001’s God Says No, with then-44-year-old frontman Dave Wyndorf managing to look impossibly cool in high heels, leather trousers and tasselled black PVC. They’re still at it, six albums further to the good, with the excellent A Better Dystopia having just arrived in May this year.
Papa Roach (Last Resort)
The placing of Last Resort, in the middle of Kerrang! The Album’s second disc, suggested that Vacaville rockers Papa Roach weren’t megastars just yet. To the contrary: its parent album Infest would go triple-platinum by July 2001. It was the start of a long and fruitful career, too, as they rode out the nu-metal wave and managed to survive, shapeshifting through several stylistic changes and building a catalogue of 10 albums and two Greatest Hits collections to date. Frontman Jacoby Shaddix disclosed recently that LP number 11 is well on the way…
Queens Of The Stone Age (The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret)
Rising from the ashes of Palm Desert pioneers Kyuss, Queens Of The Stone Age had caught the attention of those in the know with 1998’s self-titled debut, but it was 2000’s Rated R that set them on a path to real superstardom. Alongside the narcotic-driven Feel Good Hit Of The Summer, hip-swivelling lead single The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret built frontman Josh Homme’s reputation as “the ginger Elvis” and the band’s as dirty, sexy, good-time rock outlaws. 2002’s hit-laden Songs For The Deaf would make them truly massive, with their four albums since seeing them become bona fide festival headliners. They’re due to return to the stage imminently, with rumours of an eighth album persistently hanging overhead.
The lead single from Pitchshifter’s 1998 third album www.pitchshifter.com, Microwaved might’ve been a product of its time – the sound of the Nottingham industrial pioneers racing to keep up with a rapidly accelerating digital age – but it’s still oddly influential today, with shades of its juddering NIN-isms turning up in the most recent work from cutting-edge contemporary heroes Code Orange. Their own output from this point on would be limited, though: 2000’s Deviant was already out, and 2002’s PSI remains their last studio album. They have been back in the studio in recent years, however, re-recording a few classics, so you never know what might be next.
Taproot (Again & Again)
Named after a type of bulbous subterranean growth, and lacking the trademark bright colours, bells and whistles of the genre, Michigan’s Taproot might’ve been amongst the more unlikely superstars of the nu-metal movement, but they have stubbornly endured. From starting a spat with Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst before they’d even signed their record deal (he wanted to get them on Interscope, they went with Atlantic) to releasing six well-regarded LPs, they’ve consistently defied expectations. 2012’s The Episodes was their last substantial work, but if rumours are to be believed, album seven is somewhere on the conveyor belt.
Glassjaw (Ry Ry’s Song)
With 2000’s Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence, New York firebrands Glassjaw made themselves one of the most vital outfits in post-hardcore. Ry Ry’s Song, the second single from that debut LP, is full of all the frayed brilliance and flailing energy that would go on to influence bands like Touché Amoré and letlive. Their output ever since has been sporadic, due to frontman Daryl Palumbo’s struggles with Crohn’s disease and work with excellent other outfits Head Automatica and Color Film, but 2017’s Material Control – and the accompanying live shows – felt like a thrilling return.
Soulfly (Back To The Primitive)
Frontman Max Cavalera’s departure from Brazilian metal heavyweights Sepultura was one of the biggest metal stories of the 1990s. Surely, we thought, he couldn’t manage anything bigger or better than he had with the band he and brother Igor had started as teenagers? Soulfly was his resounding answer, with tribal-inspired, guest-spot laden second LP Primitive arguably their best. 20 years later, they’re still going strong, boasting an intimidating 11-album catalogue despite Max’s prolific involvement with any number of other projects. Hell, 2018’s Ritual packs just as much brute force as they did here!
Tellingly, the title-track and lead single to the second album from Massachusetts nu-metallers Godsmack didn’t just crop up on our compilation CD, but also in the United States Navy’s Accelerate Your Life recruitment campaign. They’ve continued to be a peculiarly American force in heavy music, now on seven albums, with 2018’s When Legends Rise showcasing serious consistency. “20 years since the release of their debut album and 20 million album sales later,” declares their slightly out-of-date official website, “Godsmack are an even stronger animal than before.” Fair enough.
One Minute Silence (Fish Out Of Water)
If nu-metal was an almost-exclusively American phenomenon, built on unashamed angst, OTT bombast and an almost complete lack of self-awareness, London-based firestarters One Minute Silence bridged the Atlantic divide with their smashing sounds. Ring-led by County Tipperary native Brian ‘Yap’ Barry, featuring drummer Martin Davies and bassist Glenn Diani from Gibraltar (alongside English guitarist Massimo Fiocco), their three albums between 1998 and 2003 were some of the most cultured of the era, but the band struggled to move on with their listeners. 2013’s Fragmented Armageddon EP was a thrilling return, but it’s been just about an eight year silence since.
BRBR-DENG! BRBR-DENG! BRBR-DENG! The sound of Dig, the signature single from Illinois metallers Mudvayne has been the subject of much online mirth in recent years, but their broader catalogue goes well beyond that catchy bit and carnival aesthetic, shifting through numerous defined eras and images. They looked to have reached the end of their path after 2009’s self-titled fifth album, but the joke was on the doubters as they reunited to take up a series of American festival headline slots this year – including some on equal billing with the mighty Slipknot!
Orgy (Blue Monday)
One of the most iconic songs of all time, New Order’s Blue Monday takes some serious cojones to cover, but Los Angeles electro-rockers (self-defined as “death pop”) Orgy pulled it off with steely, faintly industrial verve on second album Vapor Transmission. They delivered a third (Punk Statik Paranoia) in 2004, but went on hiatus from 2005 to 2010 and never really got back up to speed. The excellent Talk Sick EP dropped in 2015, but its follow-up album Entropy is yet to appear.
If aforementioned ex-Sepultura frontman Max Cavalera was pushing on with Primitive, his old bandmates were keeping pace with their second album featuring hulking replacement vocalist Derrick Green, titled Nation. A percussive call-to-arms for fans who found their loyalties divided, its sort-of title-track Sepulnation didn’t quite have the spring-loaded magic of Max’s single, but Andreas Kisser’s twisty guitar work and the sheer blunt force on show left no option but to sit up and take notice. Although calls for an original line-up Sepultura reunion have rarely subsided over the two decades since, the Derrick-Andreas axis has proven one of the most powerful in real heavy metal, with 2020’s Quadra – their ninth album since the split with Max – a fresh testament to their sheer sonic violence.
From unnecessarily long and wordy titles to phrases that just make you go, ‘Eh?!’, these bands have been particularly imaginative when it comes to naming songs…
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