The list of bands who have managed to sell a million albums in one week is extraordinarily short. Only 20 albums have done this in the Soundscan era since 1991 – and most of them are pop’s biggest stars. Multiple Taylor Swift albums, boy bands like Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC, Britney Spears, and…Limp Bizkit. Seriously, the band’s 2000 album Chocolate Starfish, released at the height of nu-metal’s commercial popularity (and one week before Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory), did indeed sell a million copies in its first week of release, and it was at that point that Limp Bizkit was on top of the music world. Seriously, this was a time where rock and metal bands routinely shared airtime on MTV’s Total Request Live with the world’s biggest music stars, and it wasn’t considered all that crazy.
Of course, the catalyst for this started a few years earlier, as just before the release of their sophomore album Significant Other, the band’s hype was beginning to reach huge levels. Mostly by the band’s dedication to constant touring (especially on the Family Values and Warped Tours) and energetic live performances, but also because of the band’s videos that were all over MTV. Add that to guitarist Wes Borland’s colorful outfits and innovative guitar playing, the DJing of DJ Lethal, and drummer + bassist John Otto and Sam Rivers marching in lockstep, and you had a recipe for success.
By the time the band released the album in 1999, they had reached unprecedented levels of hype, peaking at one point with their incendiary performance at Woodstock that same year. While certainly not without controversy, Limp Bizkit were eclipsing even their tourmates in Korn as far as commercial popularity, routinely receiving the kind of attention that was only usually given to pop and hip-hop music.
In hindsight, it’s not surprising Limp Bizkit wanted to quickly capitalize on their fast-rising status by releasing Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water the next year. While the record marked the peak of their commercial popularity, it sold a million copies in its first week of release – and eventually went six times Platinum in the USA alone. Limp Bizkit was pretty much everywhere for the next year or two – “Take A Look Around” was prominently featured in the Mission: Impossible 2 soundtrack, the band’s summer tour that year was sponsored by file-sharing giant Napster (and it was free, too!), and the band’s video for “Rollin'” was filmed for $3 million on the South Tower of the World Trade Center. The band’s biggest hit to date, the video even had Ben Stiller in it, which in hindsight was pretty incredible.
20 years later, it might be difficult to remember just how much of a following Limp Bizkit had at the peak of their popularity. That’s not to say the band isn’t a major draw today – they’re routinely at the top of major festival lineups. But in 2000, they took over the music scene like few other bands could – and it’s also not a surprise that it helped records like Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory sell copies in waves, too. Just remember, Fred Durst did it all for the Nookie.