Over the years of Billboard, it’s almost as if the whole mindset behind a hit song can be turned into science. Even though not every band has to sound the same, it can be a little annoying to hear the same type of song over and over again to reach the top of the charts. Then there are those few songs that you never forget from the first moment you hear them.
While these songs may have been way too weird for radio, they still managed to find time on the charts, confusing anyone who heard them on their way to work every morning. That’s not to say that all of these are without melody or anything. Some of them have your traditional rock song structures, but they go in an extremely weird direction, whether it’s with the music in the background or the subject matter they decide to write in the song.
Then again, it would be generous even to say that some of these songs have subject matter, going from one insane sequence to another with hardly any letup. It’s the nature of the music industry at work. We might like to predict it, but this is the Wild West of the entertainment industry, and there are no rules on what makes your song memorable.
The mainstream charts have always had a bit of a rocky relationship with heavy metal. Even when Metallica was “selling out” with the Black Album in the 90s, something like Sad But True was still a little too evil for the world’s moms to really approve of. So how did we go from being the hard rock version of metal to screaming on the charts a decade later?
When the nu metal boom started taking over the world, it felt like Slipknot was supposed to be the cartoon version of it, until Iowa came along and blew it all up. The mere thought of an album like this selling into the mainstream is unthinkable, let alone making its way to the top of the album charts. That means there had to be some sort of crossover, right? No…if anything, he seemed to get a lot heavier with age.
On the now classic Left Behind, there’s virtually no melodic vocals throughout, with Corey Taylor shouting his head off on nearly every chorus. It was also premeditated, since producer Ross Robinson insisted on becoming more guttural, so the whole song hit you like a slap in the face. We first started with the bluesy version of Black Sabbath on hard rock, and the 2000s began with one of the heaviest records to hit the Billboard charts. Fasten your seatbelts, kids. The era of heavy was about to take over the world.