Love it or hate it, nü-metal artists made some of the greatest music videos to ever grace MTV… and unlike genres such as hair metal, each nü-metal video wasn't just a carbon copy of what you'd already seen.
Sure, nü-metal has always been a little cartoonish, but beneath the spiked hair and JNCOs, there was real emotional turmoil, social commentary and raw expression. There was a hell of a lot of fun, too, and you'll see the full spectrum of what nü-metal brought to the table when it comes to classic and iconic music videos.
Korn – “Freak on a Leash”
Let’s kick it off with the GOAT. Not only is this the best nü-metal video ever made, it’s one of the greatest music videos ever. Everything about it is perfection — the Follow the Leader animation at the beginning, the slow motion bullet traveling through the real world, Korn playing in a room full of bullet holes, the emotional ending and more. It’s a masteЯpiece.
Mudvayne – “Dig”
In the current age of the Internet, “Dig” is a meme factory, but casting aside the brbr deng, Mudvayne’s signature music video is a raw slice of nü-metal aggression. Switching between white purgatory and a cosmic horror abyss, “Dig” never relents when it comes to creeping out the viewer. The clip, and the makeup on each member of Mudvayne, is classic.
Limp Bizkit – “Break Stuff”
“Break Stuff” is the most co-signed music video of the nü-metal era. The number of legendary figures in this video is absurd — Eminem and his daughter Hailie, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Korn’s Jonathan Davis and comedian Pauly Shore all make up-close-and-personal appearances, but what makes “Break Stuff” so great is how fun and cathartic it is. There’s not a dull moment in this video. This is what the ‘90s felt like, kiddies.
Powerman 5000 – “When Worlds Collide”
Humans are notoriously bad at predicting the future, or even imagining what it may look like. However, nü-metal produced some of the most entertaining hyper-galactic and future-obsessed videos of the Y2K era, including Powerman 5000’s epic “When World’s Collide.” The special effects in this video were mind-blowing if you were a kid watching MTV in 1999, and they’re still pretty awesome today. Let’s get a chessy sci-fi movie with Spider One, already.
System of a Down – “Sugar”
We all know “Chop Suey!” is an iconic video, but “Sugar” is the truest representation of what System of a Down was all about. “Sugar” blasts the viewer with uncomfortable footage of war crimes and genocide, and points the finger at the addictive TV news machine and the dangers of fake sugar. These images are projected onto a giant American flag behind System of a Down, who perform the bombastic track in wild outfits and face paint. Quite a message to send on your very first single.
Slipknot – “Duality”
The legend of Slipknot is carried through its fans, and it’s the fans that made “Duality” legendary. The energy in this video can hardly be contained by the screen you watch it on. A few hundred fans, a decrepit house, nine guys in jumpsuits and masks performing one of their greatest songs… it’s a recipe that guarantees destruction. It’s a miracle that home was still standing when “Duality” wrapped.
Static-X – “I’m With Stupid”
Maybe the most bizarre, surreal and ridiculous video in nü-metal history, Static-X’s “I’m With Stupid” is a no-brainer for this list. “I’m With Stupid” is like if Rob Zombie made xXx with Wayne Static instead of Vin Diesel. Why is a woman with a shovel chasing down a battery-headed organist in a white suit? Who gives a shit? It fucking rules.
Linkin Park – “Breaking the Habit”
This was a different breed of nü-metal expression. Sophisticated and gorgeously animated, Linkin Park’s “Breaking the Habit” brought the influence of anime into a genre untouched by the art form. Japanese anime studio Gonzo K.K. created this brilliant visual, with Linkin Park DJ Joe Hahn directing the clip. This was truly before its time, and a brilliant creative choice by the genre-mashing icons of Linkin Park.
P.O.D. – “Boom”
So. Much. Fun. Nü-metal took itself too seriously at times, and P.O.D.’s video for “Boom” was the antidote. The band matched their song’s anthemic intensity with the ferocious silliness of competitive ping pong, giving MTV the equivalent of a Will Ferrell movie two years before Anchorman hit theaters. This video could’ve been a vicious boxing montage or a budget Fight Club. Instead, it became a feel-good, hilarious classic.
Dope – “Everything Sucks”
Did Dope grab the cage from the first Spiderman movie? This may be the most nü-metalliest nü-metal video ever made. “Everything Sucks” takes a Mad Max dystopia and throws it in a blender with extreme sports, carnival freaks, lots of fire, supermodels painted silver, and every nü-metal hairstyle that could be dreaded or spiked. Throw this in a time capsule and imagine future humans wrapping their heads around Dope.