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Follow the Leader (Korn album)

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Follow the Leader
A child hopscotching off a cliff and a gathering of kids waiting to follow
Studio album by Korn
Released August 18, 1998
Recorded March–May 1998
Studio NRG Recording Studios, North Hollywood, Los Angeles[1]
Genre Nu metal
Length 70:08
Label Immortal/Epic
Producer Steve Thompson, Toby Wright
Korn chronology
Life Is Peachy
Follow the Leader
Singles from Follow the Leader
  1. "All in the Family"
    Released: July 18, 1998
  2. "Got the Life"
    Released: November 23, 1998
  3. "Children of the Korn"
    Released: 1998
  4. "B.B.K."
    Released: 1998
  5. "Freak on a Leash"
    Released: May 25, 1999

Follow the Leader is the third studio album by the American nu metal band Korn. The album was released on August 18, 1998, through Immortal/Epic. This was their first album not produced by Ross Robinson. Instead, it was produced by Steve Thompson and Toby Wright.

The album peaked at number one on four charts, including the Billboard 200 with 268,000 units sold in its first week of release,[2] and is often credited with launching nu metal into the mainstream. The album received a 5× Platinum certification in the United States on March 15, 2002[3] as well as a 3× Platinum in Australia and Canada.[4][5] Its singles "Got the Life", and "Freak on a Leash", both charted on more than three charts, and their music videos are considered to be the first music videos retired from MTV, most notably the MTV show "Total Request Live".[6] The album generally received positive reviews by critics. Korn was praised by AllMusic saying the album is "an effective follow-up to their first two alt-metal landmarks."[7]

The Family Values Tour promoted the album, along with its five singles. The song "Freak on a Leash" was nominated for nine MTV Video Music Awards, and won for the Best Rock Video award, as well as Best Editing.[6] The music video for "Freak on a Leash" won Best Short Form Music Video at the 2000 Grammy Awards.[8] Follow the Leader has sold over 7 million copies in the US according to Nielsen SoundScan as of January 4, 2013 and over 14 million copies worldwide, making it Korn's most successful album.[6]

Recording and production[edit]

By early 1998, Korn returned to the studio to record Follow the Leader. Even though Korn was impressed by the work Ross Robinson had done on their previous albums, they decided to work with Steve Thompson and Toby Wright. Robinson did however work with singer Jonathan Davis as a vocal coach for the album. Korn was shown making the video on KornTV. The reason they exposed themselves making the album was because they wanted to let their fans see what they were doing in the studio and behind the scenes.[9] Follow the Leader features numerous guest vocalists, including Ice Cube on "Children of the Korn", Tre Hardson of The Pharcyde on "Cameltosis" and Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst on "All in the Family".[10][11]

In a 2013 interview, the band revealed that they partied heavily during the production of Follow the Leader, with massive amounts of alcohol, drugs, and women in the studio. Davis explained further, saying that while recording the vocals for "It's On", there were "people getting blowjobs right behind me, there was girls banging each other in front of me, people getting boned in the closet right behind me, it was the craziest shit I've ever seen in my life and I sang that song." According to Davis, he only agreed to begin tracking vocals when producer Toby Wright met his demands for an eight-ball (a one-eighth ounce of cocaine).[12]

The hidden track "Earache My Eye" features comedian Cheech Marin of Cheech & Chong

Photography and illustration[edit]

The artwork for Follow the Leader was done by Todd McFarlane Entertainment, with McFarlane and fellow Image Comics artists Greg Capullo (penciller) and Brian Hagelin (colorist) doing the album cover, and designer Brent Ashe handling the graphics work.[10][13] According to drummer David Silveria, the band got interested in McFarlane after hearing that "Todd had actually referred to us as 'the Doors of the 90's'", leading to them recording a song for Spawn, a film based on a comic book by McFarlane, and eventually approaching the artist to make an album cover for them.[14] The cover art depicts a child hopscotching off a cliff and a gathering of kids waiting to follow, a concept that begun with bassist Reginald "Fieldy" Arvizu and sketched by a friend of Jonathan Davis before being submitted to McFarlane. It marked the third straight Korn cover featuring children in a disturbing context, which Davis explained by saying that "Children are always scared when they're all happy and stuff. They're the most beautiful thing in the world, but when you see it in our artwork, the way we've placed it, it's just kinda fuckin' weird."[15] [16] The "Freak on a Leash" music video features animated segments by McFarlane featuring this cover art.[17]


Rapper Ice Cube is featured on the track "Children of the Korn."

Follow the Leader is recognized as Korn's mainstream breakthrough, and the album that launched nu metal into the mainstream.[18] Follow the Leader was released August 18, 1998,[19] and was awarded multi-platinum certification for shipments in excess of five million copies, by the RIAA on March 15, 2002.[20] In fall of 1998, Korn started the Family Values Tour. According to Arvizu, the tour name was due to "so many of their friends who were like family to us played in bands".[21] The tour started on September 22, 1998, ending on October 31, 1998. The tour grossed over 6.4 million (6,400,000). Korn maintained a generally low ticket price, usually no more than thirty dollars. Korn toured with the band Limp Bizkit, as well as Ice Cube, Orgy, Incubus, and Rammstein.[21] The tour was considered to be a major success, and promoted Follow the Leader to sales that were considered to have "skyrocketed".[22]

The album was also promoted through Concrete Marketing's Concrete Corner program. The promotion saw 100,000 copies of a compilation CD featuring tracks of breakthrough artists approved by Korn, as well as a previously unreleased Korn track, being shrink-wrapped to the album at participating stores and given away for free with each purchase of the album. Band artists (at the time) featured on this CD included Kid Rock, Orgy, Powerman 5000 and Limp Bizkit.[23] The album had five singles issued: "All in the Family", "Got the Life", "Freak on a Leash", "Children of the Korn", and "B.B.K."[24]


Follow the Leader is seventy minutes and eight seconds long. AllMusic said, "They write songs, but those wind up not being nearly as memorable as their lurching metallic hip-hop grind."[7] Entertainment Weekly commented that Follow the Leader was Korn's "gimmick", while saying the album had "steely riffs" and "stomping beats".[25] Tower Records said the album "combines streamlined metal with ominous industrial touches and an undercurrent of hip-hop rhythm," and also said it was an "urban nightmare".[1] The album is considered to be nu metal, but also spans other genres such as alternative metal and heavy metal.[7][26]

The album features 25 tracks, 12 of which last five seconds of silence, making the first 60 seconds of the album all silent.[1] Winston-Salem Journal writer Ed Bumgardner described Korn's work as having "shaped rap, metal and punk into a sonic maelstrom that is brutal, aggressive - and reasonably musical".[28] The Daily News said that "the band shovels chunky beats into an already complex sound..."[27] Michael Mehle of Rocky Mountain News said, "For the uninitiated, the classic Korn sound comes rumbling out of the speakers on the first cut: It's On! grinds fuzzy guitars, thunderous beats and shouts of gut-wrenching rage into an anthem for the alienated", and gave other positive remarks.[29] The Charlotte Observer said the album was dark, but humble.[30] A Zeeland high school assistant principal said in an interview for a Michigan newspaper that the music is "indecent, vulgar, obscene and intends to be insulting". She said this after giving a student a one-day suspension for wearing a shirt with Korn on it.[16]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[7]
Billboard (favorable)[31]
Robert Christgau (C)[32]
Entertainment Weekly B−[25]
The New York Times (mixed)[33]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[34]
Spin (7/10)[35]
Yahoo! Music (favorable)[36]
Pitchfork Media (6.9/10)

Follow the Leader received generally positive reviews. Stephan Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic gave the album four out of five stars, saying that it "is an effective follow-up to their first two alt-metal landmarks." Erlewine also said that the songs were "vehicles for the metal grind".[7] Entertainment Weekly gave the album a B–. Reviewer Jim Farber said that the lyrics "provide a new blend of metal and remnants of alt-rock."[25] Jon Pareles from The New York Times said the album was "choppy", and also said that lead singer Jonathan Davis was "wrestling with self-hatred, violent impulses, parental execration, and a confused sexual identity..."[33] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice said that, although Korn "deny they're metal", they "nevertheless demonstrate that the essence of metal ... is self-obliterating volume and self-aggrandizing display."[32] Rolling Stone gave the album four out of five stars, while saying that Korn "have an ideal record for those long, black days when all you can do is say 'What the Fuck! What the Fuck! What the Fuck!' at bloody murder volume".[34] The album is featured in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[37]

Commercial performance[edit]

Follow the Leader peaked at number one on four charts, including the Billboard 200.[38] Follow the Leader peaked at number five in the United Kingdom.[39] The album received a 5× platinum certification in the United States,[3] as well as a triple platinum in Australia and Canada.[4][5] Follow the Leader also received a gold certification in the Netherlands.[40] The album's first charting single, "Got the Life", released on July 24, 1998, peaked at number fifteen on the Mainstream Rock Songs chart,[41] and received a gold certification in Australia.[42] The album's next charting single, "Freak on a Leash", released in February 1999, peaked at number six on the Alternative Songs chart, as well as number six on the Bubbling Under Hot 100,[38] and like "Got the Life", received a gold certification in Australia.[42] "Freak on a Leash" was nominated for nine MTV Video Music Awards, and won for the Best Rock Video award, as well as Best Editing.[6]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Korn except "Earache My Eye" written by Tommy Chong, Gaye Delorme and Richard Marin. All guest appearances feature an extra writing credit by the guest.

No. Title Length
13. "It's On!" 4:28
14. "Freak on a Leash" 4:15
15. "Got the Life" 3:45
16. "Dead Bodies Everywhere" 4:44
17. "Children of the Korn" (featuring Ice Cube) 3:52
18. "B.B.K." 3:56
19. "Pretty" 4:12
20. "All in the Family" (featuring Fred Durst) 4:48
21. "Reclaim My Place" 4:32
22. "Justin" 4:17
23. "Seed" 5:54
24. "Cameltosis" (featuring Tre Hardson) 4:38
25. "My Gift to You" ("My Gift To You" ends at 7:12. A hidden track entitled "Earache My Eye", a Cheech & Chong cover, starts at 9:12 after a discussion with Munky, Fieldy, and Head.) 15:40
Total length: 70:08
  • The original physical release features 25 tracks. The music begins on track 13 and ends on track 25, Starting the album with 12 hidden tracks consisting of five seconds of silence each, totaling 1 minute of silence out of respect for a deceased fan, who also had track 10 (Justin) named after him.[43] Later prints move the silent tracks after the music. In interviews Jon Davis also mentioned he was very superstitious and did not want to end an album on track 13.


Korn Additional musicians Production Ref


Preceded by
Da Game Is to Be Sold Not to Be Told
by Snoop Dogg
Billboard 200 number-one album
September 5–12, 1998
Succeeded by
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
by Lauryn Hill
Preceded by
Left of the Middle by Natalie Imbruglia
Australian ARIA Albums Chart number-one album
August 30–September 6, 1998
Succeeded by
Internationalist by Powderfinger
Preceded by
Armageddon (soundtrack) by various artists
Canadian Albums Chart number-one album
September 5–12, 1998
Succeeded by
Armageddon (soundtrack) by various artists


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