Follow the Leader (Korn album)

Follow the Leader is the third studio album by 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.

Follow the Leader
A child hopscotching off a cliff and a gathering of kids waiting to follow
Studio album by
ReleasedAugust 18, 1998
RecordedMarch–May 1998
StudioNRG Recording Studios, North Hollywood, Los Angeles[1]
GenreNu metal
ProducerSteve 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

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] Follow the Leader is considered by members of Korn to be the band's most commercially–successful album, being certified five-times Platinum by the RIAA. 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.[3] The album generally received positive reviews by critics and sold around 14 million copies worldwide. Korn was praised by AllMusic saying the album is "an effective follow-up to their first two alt-metal landmarks.".[4]

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.[3] The music video for "Freak on a Leash" won Best Short Form Music Video at the 2000 Grammy Awards.[5]

Recording and productionEdit

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. According to Wright, Robinson went to extreme lengths to agitate Davis in the vocal booth, including punching him the back repeatedly. Korn was shown making the record 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.[6] 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".[7][8] The songs for the album were written and copyrighted in 1997, with the exception of "Children of the Korn", "All in the Family" and "Cameltosis", which are copyrighted from 1998.[9]

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).[10]

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

Photography and illustrationEdit

The artwork for Follow the Leader was done by Todd McFarlane Entertainment, with McFarlane and fellow Image Comics artists Greg Capullo (penciller) and Brian Haberlin (colorist) doing the album cover, and designer Brent Ashe handling the graphics work.[7][11] 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.[12] The cover art depicts a child hopscotching toward the edge of a cliff and a gathering of kids waiting to follow, a concept that began 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."[13][14] The "Freak on a Leash" music video features animated segments by McFarlane featuring this cover art.[15]


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.[16] Follow the Leader was released August 18, 1998,[17] and was awarded multi-platinum certification for shipments in excess of five million copies, by the RIAA on March 15, 2002.[18] 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".[19] The Family Values Tour featured the unveiling of a steel cage to the rear of the stage called the Korn Kage,[20] holding radio contest winners.[21] The idea of the Korn Kage came originally from Arvizu.[20] 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.[19] The tour was considered to be a major success, and promoted Follow the Leader to sales that were considered to have "skyrocketed".[22] However, unlike all their other tours, they opted not to play in Europe for this cycle.[23]

The album was also promoted through Concrete Marketing's Concrete Corner program with Jim Rose of Jim Rose Circus as the pitchman. 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.[24] 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."[25]


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."[4] Entertainment Weekly commented that Follow the Leader was Korn's "gimmick", while saying the album had "steely riffs" and "stomping beats".[26] 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.[4][27]

The album features 25 tracks, 12 of which last five seconds of silence, making the first 1 minute of the album all silent. The concept of the song "Justin" was about a boy with the same name dying of intestinal cancer. His last wish was to meet the members of Korn.[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".[29] The Daily News said that "the band shovels chunky beats into an already complex sound..."[28] 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.[30] The Charlotte Observer said the album was dark, but humble.[31] 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.[14]

Critical receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [4]
Christgau's Consumer GuideC[32]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music     [33]
Entertainment WeeklyB−[26]
The Guardian     [34]
Rolling Stone     [36]
USA Today    [38]

Follow the Leader received generally positive reviews. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic called it "an effective follow-up to their first two alt-metal landmarks."[4] David Fricke of Rolling Stone wrote 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".[36] Yahoo! Music critic Janiss Garza described the album as "intensely tortured and savage as ever", while noting that "in spite of all this distress and suffering, Korn does loosen up".[39] Entertainment Weekly reviewer Jim Farber called it "a big load of dumb fun" and "also incredibly perverse, going to almost laughable lengths to mess with metal cliché", concluding that if "hardly innovative enough to rival the classics of metal, at least Korn's LP gives this once-stagnant style kernels of something new".[26] Jon Pareles from The New York Times said the album was "choppy", describing Davis as "wrestling with self-hatred, violent impulses, parental execration, and a confused sexual identity..."[40] In a negative review, 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] The album is featured in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[41]

Commercial performanceEdit

Follow the Leader peaked at number one on four charts, including the Billboard 200.[42] Follow the Leader peaked at number five in the United Kingdom.[43] The album received a 5× platinum certification in the United States,[44] as well as a triple platinum in Australia and Canada.[45][46] Follow the Leader also received a gold certification in the Netherlands.[47] The album's first charting single, "Got the Life", released on July 24, 1998, peaked at number fifteen on the Mainstream Rock Songs chart,[48] and received a gold certification in Australia.[49] 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,[42] and like "Got the Life", received a gold certification in Australia.[49] "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.[3]

Track listingEdit

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.

1."It's On!"4:28
2."Freak on a Leash"4:15
3."Got the Life"3:45
4."Dead Bodies Everywhere"4:44
5."Children of the Korn" (featuring Ice Cube)3:52
8."All in the Family" (featuring Fred Durst)4:48
9."Reclaim My Place"4:32
12."Cameltosis" (featuring Tre Hardson)4:38
13."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 10:50 after 2 minutes of silence and an interlude that lasts around a minute and 40 seconds. The track itself is around 4 minutes 50 seconds long.)15:40
Total length:70:08
  • The original physical release features 25 tracks. The album starts with 12 hidden tracks consisting of five seconds of silence each, totaling 60 seconds of silence, with the music starting on track 13.[50] In interviews Jon Davis also mentioned he was very superstitious and did not want to end an album on track 13. Later editions move the silent tracks before the music.


Additional Vocalists
Production Staff



  1. ^ a b c "Follow The Leader (CD)". Tower Records. Archived from the original on 2008-09-14. Retrieved 2010-03-19.
  2. ^ Joe D'Angelo (2002-06-19). "Korn Can't Kick Eminem From Top Of Billboard Chart - Music, Celebrity, Artist News". Archived from the original on 2013-10-13. Retrieved 2013-10-15.
  3. ^ a b c d Arvizu 2009, p. 118
  4. ^ a b c d e Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Follow the Leader – Korn". AllMusic. Retrieved 2010-04-13.
  5. ^ "Korn". Rock On The Net. Archived from the original on 2013-03-04. Retrieved 2013-10-15.
  6. ^ Arvizu 2009, p. 112
  7. ^ a b "Follow the Leader credits" Archived 2011-04-26 at the Wayback Machine. Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-03-13
  8. ^ Arvizu 2009, p. 113
  9. ^ "All songs copyright 1997 except tracks 17, 20 and 24 copyright 1998" (Liner notes for Follow the Leader)
  10. ^ "Korn Interviewe by U.K.'s Scuzz". Archived from the original on 2015-02-05. Retrieved 2013-12-29.
  11. ^ Ashe, Brent. "#tbt #throwbackthursday That time I designed the album cover for KORN - Follow The Leader". Instagram. Retrieved 2016-06-24.
  12. ^ "KORN…IN THEIR WORDS (Close Up With David)" (Press release). Sony Music. Archived from the original on 2012-09-24. Retrieved 2010-03-20.
  13. ^ "KORN…IN THEIR WORDS (Close Up With Jonathan)" (Press release). Sony Music. Archived from the original on 2012-09-24. Retrieved 2010-03-20.
  14. ^ a b Ross, Mike (98-09-17) "Kids like their Korn" Archived 2013-01-15 at Canoe. Retrieved 2010-03-20
  15. ^ (99-02-04) "Korn 'Freak' Video To Debut On Friday" MTV. Retrieved 2010-03-20
  16. ^ Jon Wiederhorn (August 18, 2015). "17 Years Ago: Korn Take Nu-Metal to the Masses With 'Follow the Leader'". Loudwire. Archived from the original on October 8, 2015.
  17. ^ "Follow the Leader (Explicit Lyrics)" Archived 2010-04-19 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 2010-03-18
  18. ^ "RIAA Gold & Platinum" Archived 2007-06-26 at the Wayback Machine RIAA. Retrieved 2010-03-12
  19. ^ a b Arvizu 2009, p. 119
  20. ^ a b "The inside story of Korn's Family Values tour". Louder. Future plc. 2019-02-21. Archived from the original on 2020-10-10. Retrieved 2020-10-10.
  21. ^ Cagan, Amanda; Schneider, Mitch (1998-10-23). "Korn set to Launch Headlining tour dates in North America and Canada ..." (Press release). Mitch Schneider Organization. Archived from the original on 2020-10-10. Retrieved 2020-10-10.
  22. ^ Arvizu 2009, p. 121
  23. ^ Paquet, Sebastien (2002). Prélude et fugue (ed.). Korn de A à Z [Korn from A to Z]. MusicBook guides (in French) (1st ed.). Paris: L'Express. p. 37. ISBN 978-2-843-43101-2.
  24. ^ Billboard. 1999-06-05. p. 88. Retrieved 2011-08-15 – via Internet Archive. bob chiappardi.
  25. ^ "Follow the Leader Discography" Archived 2009-02-17 at the Wayback Machine The Retrieved 2010-04-05
  26. ^ a b c Farber, Jim (1998-08-21). "Follow the Leader". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 2014-01-15. Retrieved 2010-04-13.
  27. ^ "Korn - Follow The Leader Review". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 2010-03-19
  28. ^ a b (98-11-02) "Korn puts on dancing shoes in new album" Daily News. Retrieved 2010-03-20
  29. ^ Ed Bumgardner (28 August 1998). "Korn's Follow the Leader rides the maelstrom", Winston-Salem Journal, p. 4.
  30. ^ (98-11-04) "Follow the Leader Sticks To the Korn Recipe" The Rocky Mountain News.
  31. ^ "Korn's Dark But Humble Says Guitarist" Retrieved 2010-04-13
  32. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (2000). "Korn: Follow the Leader". Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s. Macmillan Publishers. ISBN 0-312-24560-2. Archived from the original on 2011-06-06. Retrieved 2010-04-13.
  33. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). "Korn". The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  34. ^ Sullivan, Caroline (1998-08-21). "Korn: Follow the Leader (Epic)". The Guardian.
  35. ^ DiCrescenzo, Brent. "Korn: Follow the Leader". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 2007-07-24. Retrieved 2017-07-15.
  36. ^ a b Fricke, David (1998-08-12). "Follow the Leader". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2012-07-06. Retrieved 2011-11-05.
  37. ^ Smith, RJ (October 1998). "Harvest of Sorrow". Spin. 14 (10): 135–36. ISSN 0886-3032. Retrieved 2017-07-15.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  38. ^ Gundersen, Edna (1998-09-01). "Korn, Follow the Leader". USA Today.
  39. ^ ""Yahoo! Music - Follow the Leader"". Archived from the original on November 29, 2005. Retrieved 2008-05-15.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link). Yahoo! Retrieved 2010-04-13
  40. ^ "Follow the Leader - NY". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-13
  41. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (23 March 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2.
  42. ^ a b c d e "Follow the Leader - Korn". Billboard. Archived from the original on 2013-06-15. Retrieved 2010-03-17.
  43. ^ a b Zywietz, Tobias. "Chart Log UK: Alex K - Kyuss". Zobbel. Archived from the original on 2015-10-17. Retrieved 2010-03-17.
  44. ^ "RIAA certifications". Recording Industry Association of America. Archived from the original on 2015-10-17. Retrieved 2010-03-17.
  45. ^ "ARIA Charts - Accreditations - 1999 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. Archived from the original on 2011-06-11. Retrieved 2010-03-17.
  46. ^ "CRIA certifications". Canadian Recording Industry Association. Archived from the original on 2012-05-28. Retrieved 2010-03-17.
  47. ^ "NVPI certifications". NVPI. Archived from the original on 2012-02-02. Retrieved 2010-03-17.
  48. ^ a b "Korn > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". AllMusic.
  49. ^ a b "Accreditations - 1999 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association. Archived from the original on 2012-10-25. Retrieved 2010-03-17.
  50. ^ Cagan, Amanda; Schneider, Mitch (September 14, 1998). "A CUT-BY-CUT LOOK AT KORN'S `FOLLOW THE LEADER' with Jonathan" (Press release). Epic Records. Archived from the original on January 5, 2016. Retrieved January 4, 2016.
  51. ^ a b " - Australian charts portal". Hung Medien. Archived from the original on 2012-10-24. Retrieved 2010-03-17.
  52. ^ " - Austrian charts portal" (in German). Hung Medien. Archived from the original on 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2010-03-18.
  53. ^ a b Peak chart positions for Korn in Belgium:
  54. ^ " - Finnish charts portal". Hung Medien. Archived from the original on 2011-07-11. Retrieved 2010-03-18.
  55. ^ " - French charts portal" (in French). Hung Medien. Archived from the original on 2012-11-02. Retrieved 2010-03-18.
  56. ^ a b Peak chart positions for Korn in Germany:
  57. ^ a b " - Dutch charts portal" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Archived from the original on 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2010-03-18.
  58. ^ a b " - New Zealand charts portal". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2010-03-17.
  59. ^ " - Norwegian charts portal". Hung Medien. Archived from the original on 2012-06-24. Retrieved 2010-03-18.
  60. ^ " - Swedish charts portal". Hung Medien. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2010-03-18.
  61. ^ "Korn | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart.
  62. ^ "Korn Rock/Alternative positions". RPM. Archived from the original on 2012-10-19. Retrieved 2010-10-11.