Remember That Time Korn did a Silent Hill Theme?
Silent Hill – may it rest in peace – turned 20 this year. It’s a franchise that I don’t have a ton of love for, but I understand its enduring legacy well enough. Tales of a town haunted by madness and fog, punctuated with a giant sword-wielding maniac with a pyramid for a head. Among the questionable marketing decisions throughout Silent Hill‘s lifetime – that mobile game, everything past the original Silent Hill – one of the strangest involves nu-metal band Korn.
I used to listen to Korn when I was a teen. It was perfectly sterile nu-metal. No insightful lyrics or uncompromising ideals. It was mass market pop metal for legions of tripp pant-bedecked teens looking to rebel against the concept of good taste. It was great. Apparently, developer Vatra Games thought the same thing when making Silent Hill: Downpour. How do we get across that our game is edgy, but also safe? Korn. Korn is the answer. So in the bygone days of 2012, a decision was made that would go over like a fart at a funeral. Korn made a song, for sure. They fulfilled their end of the bargain and made a bland and unoffensive rock song about the trials and tribulations of main character Murphy Pendleton.
So did Korn score the whole game? Oh god no. They wanted to sell games. Daniel Licht did the actual score for the game, and I gotta say; pretty good. It’s got that tinny Silent Hill mandolin that I’ve come to expect. The theme Korn made for Silent Hill: Downpour is actually only in the game twice. In any other game series, it would be a curiosity, easily forgotten as soon as the game started. Silent Hill mega fans, being Silent Hill mega fans, weren’t going to let this slight on their favorite series slide. A petition was started to force the developer to remove Korn. I would quote the entire text of the petition, but it’s very, very long. Instead, I’ll just play the hits, much like Korn.
“There is many reasons for this, a nu metal band simply does not belong in Silent Hill and especially not one that deals with teenage angst themes, that is not what silent hill is or will ever be and a nu metal band that was cool in the late 90’s and early 00’s will do no good for silent hill as a game.”No Korn in Silent Hill: Downpour petition
This is, of course, an overreaction. Korn was just doing a theme! They weren’t developing the game. I would actually be extremely impressed if Korn was developing a Silent Hill game. Fans of Korn, for the most part, didn’t care. A new Korn song is a new Korn song, no matter where it comes from. The Silent Hill franchise is a prime example of diminishing returns. It was good, at some point, I think. By 2012, it just didn’t have the goodwill to do something zany like have Jonathan Davis – kilt and all – compose its theme. I mean, a lot of this outrage sprung up after the release of the first trailer bearing the sick track – Titled ‘Silent Hill’ for the curious -. When it did eventually release, we were treated to some klassic Korn lyrics like:
Close my eyes, I got to sleep
It’s always there, I start to weep (x8)Silent Hill by Korn
I want to say I don’t know what caused all of this outrage, but I do know: Silent Hill fans have a very specific vision of the game series that they have no hand in making. It’s fine to be a fan of something. It’s actually great! Media properties need fans to function. When a vocal minority of fans declares everything you do that isn’t Silent Hill 2 a giant failure, it becomes hard to take them seriously. I’m not really here to make fun of Silent Hill, or Korn. I wanted to highlight how funny it is that a non-substantial amount of people were mad about a nu-metal band.
It isn’t the first time a video game franchise has dipped its toes into the waters of having an established artist make a theme. In 2008, when we were all in the throes of Alone in the Dark fever, Atari commissioned DJ Tiesto to make a track for the game. The resulting track, full name ‘Tiesto Presents Alone in the Dark: Inferno – Edward Carnby’, is an absolute bop. Seriously. It has, almost nothing to do with the game, but it’s a house music revival of epic proportions. There is a choir, there are driving beats, there is gameplay footage in the music video. It’s honestly everything I’d want from a Tiesto song about Alone in the Dark.
Fans dug it. Even now, looking at the YouTube video, there are still comments coming in praising the direction of the song. I found in my research that you can buy it on vinyl for 6 dollars, and I’m seriously going to add it to my collection. This event, with Silent Hill, didn’t ruin Korn. They still make music, if you didn’t know. They also did a theme for another game: Haze. I don’t remember Haze that well, but I will say that the song they did for that game is far better than the one they did for Silent Hill: Downpour. Really phoned it in for Silent Hill, Korn.