This Day In Music History: August 18th, 1998 – Korn breaks into the mainstream with ‘Follow The Leader’

Korn’s decision to title their breakout third album Follow The Leader was a particularly prescient move. In the few years since their 1994 self-titled debut essentially created the sonic template of we know as nu-metal today, a plethora of like-minded bands like Coal Chamber had emerged in its wake. Certainly, the first two Korn records were an unqualified success. How could they not be, considering they both went Platinum? Still, it was clear the band had much more ambitious goals in mind – and with the 1998 release of Follow The Leader, they achieved them in spades. Multi-platinum spades.

Released on August 18th, 1998, Korn’s Follow The Leader launched the young band into the mainstream consciousness. The band’s videos for “Got The Life” and “Freak On A Leash” were eventually retired on MTV’s Total Request Live (where they often competed with some of the biggest stars in the music world, including teen pop idols), and the record eventually went 5 times Platinum just in the USA.

Of course, none of this would matter without the music. While songs like “My Gift To You” still shared much of the harrowing and bleak atmosphere their first two records did, there was a bouncier, more palatable style on huge hits like “Got The Life” and “Freak On A Leash” that weren’t quite apparent on their earlier work. That’s not to say any of this is pop music, but it sure sold as such – eventually leading Korn’s bass-heavy sound to headline their own festival, Family Values.

Of course, this isn’t a perfect album. Much like most Korn albums, it does run a bit too long at times with some filler, and the less said about “All In The Family”, the better. However, Follow The Leader was the record that paved the way for nu-metal bands to hit the top of the charts – as Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit would eventually do – and for that aspect alone, it’s essential listening.

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