It is what it is
In a remarkably consensual stance, I have never been a Korn guy. Not even to piss off my folks: quite frankly, I wouldn’t have listened to any sort of music for that reason alone. I love music too much and I didn’t hate my folks enough, even in my worse adolescent years.
No, the Korn sound, aka metal / nu metal and its various associated sub genres, was not my thing. The gothic and/or satanic aesthetics that came with it felt a little crowded to me, with all those artefacts that too obviously mirrored — if opposed — religious symbolism. I was — and still am — rather bothered by any type of religious and/or mythological connotations in music, as if one ever needed that…
More than its surroundings, though, what did not quite make it for me was the music itself: I like saturated riffs as much as the next guy, but not when they feel a little too overly gratuitous. This may make me look a little too squeaky clean — then again, maybe time I made peace with that — but tracks in which the melody is hardly discernable amidst layers of saturated guitars and yelling rather singing… not for me.
This statement may sound a little generic, with good reason: I never quite had the patience to delve into Korn’s back catalog or any other similar bands’ — excluding Limp Bizkit, which became so big you just couldn’t ignore them back in the early 00’s. Whether my decision was a little extreme, I plead no contest; whether I regret it now, maybe, slightly, sometimes. Still: given the choice between audible melodies and overdubbed feedback, I will always pick melodies. Call me old fashioned.
A couple of months ago, on my local French rock radio, I stumbled upon a new track that sounded very classic rock, albeit of the darker kind, fronted by a remarkably powerful lead singer, and I had no idea who that was. I checked the name: Jonathan Davis. Still no idea.
Whether “What it is” (that’s the name of the song) was the most original every created — no. Whether it immediately became my new ringtone — also no. But such strong and confident vocals always catch my attention, if only because I usually tend to be rather envious. And Davis’ vocals would give anyone with singing aspirations reason to be envious: the man showcases vocal prowess that seems absolutely effortless, easily reigning over a rather heavy sound in the background. The slow pace and power chord structure only serves Davis: he cruises through the song as if he were a lyrical singer having fun with a rock tune.
Eventually, I did check who that elusive Jonathan Davis was. You guessed — or already knew — it: he is none other than Korn’s frontman, displaying his vocal abilities for the last 25+ years on their albums where the feat is only more remarkable, given their significantly heavier productions. I don’t know if this late revelation will make me listen to Korn now, but, whenever someone plays it, I will undoubtedly appreciate Davis’ contributions more. Baby rocky steps.