The passage of time works in a strange, cyclical nature. Caught up in any given moment, we experience the day within its proper context in human history. To put it simply: Things don’t seem weird while they are happening. It’s only with the luxury of hindsight that we cringe at the zeitgeist.
Given the cultural tenor of 2023, it might seem strange for a younger person to hear that the rise of nü-metal in the late 1990s and early 2000s was met with no small amount of pushback. Popular as the Family Values Tour sect was on MTV’s Total Request Live and at your local Hot Topic, the slightly older generation of certified headbangers HATED the attitude, aesthetic, and sound of this bouncy, down-tuned hybrid of rock and hip-hop. Nü-metal was huge, but so were the Backstreet Boys. Just because something was big did not mean that it was good.
The stylistic spell of nü-metal lost a good amount of its potency with the general public during the first decade of the new century. The years following 9/11 saw the rise of metalcore, deathcore, “scene” screamo, and any other number of subgenres. Having steeped in its own kind of opulence, nü-metal seemed to be aging out of vogue with all of the reflective cringe of hair metal in the wake of grunge.
Nirvana might have indeed killed off most of the hair bands forever, but nü-metal has found a second life through a new audience in 2023. Given the genre’s renaissance, we feel like right now would be a good time to remember pop star Katy Perry’s brief foray into this previously maligned style.
In her early career, Katy Hudson performed gospel music and toured within the Christian rock world. Looking to cross over into a more mainstream audience, the young singer eventually switched her style to fit in with contemporary trends and began working with the infamous producer Dr. Luke. Swapping out “Hudson” for “Perry”, a secular celebrity was born.
Following the name change but before her breakthrough with the culturally tone-deaf ode to exploring one’s sexuality, “I Kissed A Girl”, Perry had a brief stint collaborating with Christian nü-metal band P.O.D., appearing on their “Goodbye For Now” single and performing with the group on The Tonight Show.
P.O.D. singer Sonny Sandoval spoke to Songfacts about the experience, saying: “We did Testify (2006 album) with Glen Ballard. Glen Ballard’s got a million Grammys, he’s worked with Alanis Morissette, he’s just an amazing, amazing man. So that was his protégé at the time. So when we did that song ‘Goodbye for Now,’ we’re like, you know what would be cool is if we just got a cool female vocal. And he’s like, ‘I got just the perfect person.’ And here comes little Katy Perry. She’s a little studio rat, she’d just come around, and such a sweet girl. You could tell she came from a good family, and just wanted to show the Jesus tattoo on her wrist, and she was like, ‘I think I saw you guys in a youth rally so many years ago.’ I’m like, ‘That’s so cool.’ But here she was in Hollywood trying to do her thing and make her career.
“It’s like choices and decisions. We heard she made this Christian gospel record and all of a sudden here she is in Hollywood just trying to figure it out. That’s just the journey of life. So we’re good friends with her, she’d hang out all the time. She did Jay Leno with us and a couple of other TV shows, and we’d always see her in and out of Hollywood just networking and stuff. And who’d have ever guessed she’d be one of the biggest pop stars in the world right now?”