MTV Unplugged

MTV Unplugged

4.1 6
by Korn
What does a band do after teenage angst has paid off well, leaving them bored and old? In Korn's case, they turn to that evergreen bastion of respectability, MTV Unplugged. During the mid-'90s, it was standard practice for any major rock artist to venture onto the program and prove their worth as "authentic" musicians -- the old canard


What does a band do after teenage angst has paid off well, leaving them bored and old? In Korn's case, they turn to that evergreen bastion of respectability, MTV Unplugged. During the mid-'90s, it was standard practice for any major rock artist to venture onto the program and prove their worth as "authentic" musicians -- the old canard being that only real musicians and real songs can withstand the scrutiny of such unadorned arrangements, even if the arrangements by 1996 were becoming so ornate they barely passed as acoustic -- but by the turn of the decade the show fell out of fashion. It was revived every couple years by major artists in need of either a stopgap release or boost of energy -- Lauryn Hill's bizarre 2002 affair, Alicia Keys' perfectly respectable but uneventful 2005 set -- which pretty much described Korn to a tee in 2007. They were veterans slightly past their prime, still capable of reaching the Top Ten with their new albums but playing to an ever-more-selective audience, as they lurched toward reinvention without luring in new listeners or settling into their inevitable middle age. So, after the modest success of 2005's See You on the Other Side, it was time for an MTV Unplugged, a drastic move backward from the heavy hip-hop inflections of See You. If that was a party record designed to snare younger listeners, this is an album for the long-term fans who have been with them for nearly 15 years, who are also in their thirties and are inclined toward moodier, quieter material. At least that's the intention of Korn's MTV Unplugged, but in practice the record is a bit of an unholy mess for one simple reason: apart from Rage Against the Machine, there is no other '90s hard rock band as ill-suited to the stripped-back conceit of MTV Unplugged than Korn. It's not a question of authenticity, it's a question of aesthetic: without amplification, without electric beats and guitars, the band loses its identity and all its purpose. The guitars still spin out fast and furious, the basslines are still ropy and elastic, but they sound anemic when not run through high voltage; the band sounds like its playing electric guitars unplugged, not acoustic. Without walls of noise to support him, it's impossible to ignore how thin and reedy Jonathan Davis' voice is. At his best, Davis sounds coiled and nervy, giving voice to the torment his lyrics can't articulate, but in this setting, he sounds petulant, an adult who refuses to believe his adolescence is long behind him. Which is appropriate, since despite the very existence of this album, Korn does not acknowledge that they're now adults. Even their attempts to stretch out to new sounds are typical of tormented teens: they cover Radiohead's "Creep" and the Cure. These moves can't help but bring to mind other, defter new metal bands like the Deftones who assimilate the Cure's influence where Korn merely apes it. Worse still, inviting Evanescence's Amy Lee for a duet on "Freak on a Leash" only makes Korn seem uncomfortably close to such leaden '90s revivalists as Seether, a clear sign that this band is now adrift at sea and uncertain how to find their way back to land.

Product Details

Release Date:
Virgin Records Us

Related Subjects


Album Credits

Performance Credits

Korn   Primary Artist
Mike Davis   Trombone
Jeff Carney   Upright Bass
Jonathan Davis   Vocals
Erik Friedlander   Cello
Richard Gibbs   Musical Direction
Julie Green   Cello
Michael Jochum   Percussion
Amy Lee   Vocals
William Ellison   Upright Bass
Dale Stuckenbruck   Saw
Rob Patterson   Guitar
James "Munky" Shaffer   Guitar
Fieldy   Bass Guitar
Jeff Nelson & Covenant   Trombone
Andrew Bove   Cimbasso
Zac Baird   Keyboards
Morris Kainuma   Cimbasso
Evie Koh   Cello
Kalen Musmecci   Percussion,Background Vocals
Jeremy Turner   Cello
Jeff Nelson   Trombone
Bill Ellison   Upright Bass
Bill Hayes   Glass Harmonica
Dale Struckenbruck   Saw
Andy Bove   Tuba
Evie Koh   Cello

Technical Credits

Vincent Cirilli   Engineer
Alex Coletti   Director,Producer
Jonathan Davis   Composer
Richard Gibbs   Arranger,Producer,Audio Production
Mike Hazelwood   Composer
Csaba Petocz   Engineer
Atticus Ross   Composer
Don Schinn   Composer
Korn   Composer,Producer,Audio Production
Colin Greenwood   Composer
Brian Welch   Composer
James "Munky" Shaffer   Composer
Thom Yorke   Composer
David Silveria   Composer
Reggie Arvizu   Composer
Peter Katsis   Executive Producer
Ryan Shuck   Composer
Matrix   Composer
John Mark Harris   Engineer
Sebastien Paquet   Cover Photo
Jorge Costa   Engineer
Dave Sirulnick   Executive Producer

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MTV Unplugged 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
ew. amy lee and "freak on a leash"? no. never. this version of "freak on a leash" is horrible, and they leave out the best part (Boom na da mmm dum na ema Da boom na da mmm dum na ema GO! So...fight! something on the... dum na ema Fight...some things they fight...), my favorite part, anyway (which doesn't go exactly like that, but you know what i mean...). thumbs up and a big rock on to amy lee w/ evanescence and staind...just not w/ korn. wondering about the rest of this cd? well, who cares? i mean, i don't know, but if "freak on a leash" is that bad, is there really any hope for the other songs? well, actually maybe...since amy lee isn't on the others...
Guest More than 1 year ago
The MTV Unplugged series debuted in 1989 as a forum for pop and alternative-rock acts to express themselves acoustically, but it wasn't long before hard-rock and metal groups started strumming in on the action. And while Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Kiss have created some starling moments over the years, no group has reinvented itself for the program quite like KoRn have. The band mates clearly understand that there's nothing more anemic than note-for-note acoustic versions of brutal songs, so they've given their sound a complete makeover by altering arrangements, revising singing and playing approaches, adding guest vocalists, and substituting new "unplugged" elements to produce the haunting textures and surging dynamics they usually achieve with distortion and effects. The result is an album that, while not especially loud, is just as intense as any of KoRn's studio recordings. Fans will be glad to discover that the wild experimentation on MTV unplugged hasn't rendered the songs at all unrecognizable. In fact, the root vocal melodies are the same it's everything else that's turned upside-down. The album's first track, "Blind," makes it clear that this is something special. The song starts normally enough, considering it's acoustic, but instead of screaming "Are you ready?!" Jonathan Davis softly sings the line, which now comes across as a sort of intellectual/aesthetic challenge rather than a violent threat. And suddenly, KoRn turn into a mariachi band, combining flamenco guitar with Latin percussion and understated piano, which somehow totally works. Adding to the disc's surprises are Evanescence singer Amy Lee, who lends ethereal vocals to "Freak on a Leash," and English Goth pioneers The Cure, who provide a morose whine and jangle to a seamless medley of "Make Me Bad" and their own "In Between Days". Another winner is a spare cover of Radiohead's "Creep," in which three hollow, thudding beats effectively replace the brief, serrated guitar blasts that defined the original. Many of the tracks feature piano and strings, but MTV Unplugged is also filled with unconventional instrumentation, including glass harmonica ("Falling Away From Me," "Creep"), saw ("Throw Me Away"), and an array of African, Middle Eastern, and Far Eastern percussion, including taiko drums, cajons, dumbeks, and djembes. And film composer and former Oingo Boingo keyboardist Richard Gibbs, who served as musical director for the performance, ensures that these tools properly enhance the mood of the music. The chiming hand bells that replace the warbling notes at the beginning of "Falling Away From Me," for instance, sound like something from a Dario Argento horror-movie soundtrack. But as dense and epic as MTV Unplugged is, there is a piece missing: KoRn drummer David Silveria, who recently announced that he's taking a hiatus from the band and won't play on its upcoming studio album. Some have speculated that his disappearance, which follows the departure of original guitarist Brian "Head" Welch in 2005, could spell the end of KoRn. But if MTV Unplugged is any indication, it could just as well signal a new beginning.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although the songs are different, but to hear Korn mellow out is a nice change. I loved it and highly recommend it for any Korn fan!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm a huge Korn fan, and I'm telling you, this performance is amazing. Yes, it's not heavy...but the acoustic performance strips away all of the amplifiers, distortion, etc. and you can hear how talented Korn really is. Amy Lee does a wonderful job of singing backup...and Freak on a Leash is amazing. I'm a big fan of heavy metal bands going acoustic - this is the best one yet (I'm still waiting for Metallica to do an "MTV Unplugged" album). Buy the CD!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album is great. Its nice to here KoRn classics in acoustic form. The boys brought along a huge backing band and it sounds fantastic. Hot tracks include: Throw me Away, love Song, Hollow Life and Make me Bad with "The Cure". Pick this disc up if you are a fan of the band or if just want to hear the "Other Side" of KoRn!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago