(M) Denim and Leather Remembers: Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavoured Water, by Limp Bizkit

"A generation which ignores history has no past and no future." Robert Heinlein
By Sam Graham
Oh where do I begin with this album? OK, a little history lesson: After Kurt Cobain successfully killed the guitar solo and nullified the way the instrument was played, heavy metal was abandoned as the nihilism of 90’s teenagers and the whole Daria-generation took over. Metal did what it could to survive. It was a desperate time and nobody blames the genre, especially seeing it has grown to glory once again. Towards the end of the 90’s, Nu Metal was created, a genre name popularised by the then new text-language. Nu Metal was the new iconoclast. While grunge brought introversion to teenage angst, Nu Metal encouraged the next generation to vent their rage. It was loud, heavy and rebellious: in that respect and that respect only, it was the spirit of heavy metal. Into this arena, donning his signature red baseball cap, baggy trousers and a soul patch, stepped Fred Durst.
There was a time in popular music when Fred Durst was king. His look styled the ‘Mosher’ generation more than any other, of which I was in high school for and unfortunately, adhered to. I still have the old baggies somewhere, but they’re flared half-masts now. His music did help introduce a whole new generation into metal, so in that respect, Fred Durst may well be the saviour of us all… Just kidding.
Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavoured Water (2000) opens with some strange speaking that sound like a cross between The Outer Limits and Spaceman (1996) by Babylon Zoo, telling us to the sound of a hip-hop beat that ‘Limp Bizkit is in the house’, then the maestro himself introduces the name of the album in the first actual song: Hot Dog. The riff that follows is nice and heavy, and then the main song begins. Hot Dog is most known for overusing the word ‘fuck’. So much so that Dursty even keeps count for you. The chorus goes heavy with some brutal lyrics, but the main focus of this song are the verses and the gratuitous swearing. Hot Dog and in fact most songs on this album are under the five minute mark, because there are no guitar solos. Disappointing, but if you can, try to imagine how they’d go. Even in the early 00’s there was one thing the lyrical pattern to this song always reminded me of. Here it is:
In a dark, dark town there was a dark, dark street and in the dark, dark street there was a dark, dark house, and in the dark, dark house there were some dark, dark stairs and down the dark, dark stairs there was a dark, dark cellar and in the dark, dark cellar…. three skeletons lived!
Everything about Hot Dog screams “Look at me! Look at me! I can swear! I’m trying to be offensive! I’m a grown up now!” It wasn’t impressive then and it’s not impressive now. It’s a juvenile song that slips on its own angst and falls flat on its face.
After Hot Dog comes one of the two most popular songs on the album: My Generation. Show me someone who says they’ve never moshed to this song after a few drinks and I’ll show you a liar. After the ‘mosh-part’ the Durstinator starts rapping, calling us punks and talking about hard he is. He then taunts us in the pre-chorus, daring us to ‘talk shit’ about him, then in the chorus tells us how he doesn’t give a monkeys and won’t ever give a monkeys until we give a monkeys about him… And his generation. The second verse starts by giving us some life-saving advice in true Durstatronic style, telling us it’s not a good idea to actively step in faeces. After another chorus comes a slow breakdown, then the song builds itself back up for another long mosh-part followed by a scratch solo(?).
After the fairly throw-away Full-Nelson comes the albums next hit My Way. It starts with the same mellowness as Heaven is a Half pipe (2001) by OPM and makes for a nice relax from the grinding energy of the previous songs. The chorus kicks in with the Durstatron screaming about how he wants to do things his own way. If he’s talking about making it to the top without compromising his integrity, he was already way too late, but it still makes for a nice idea. After it goes through the motions (verse chorus verse chorus slow part followed by elongated mosh part chorus), My Way ends with the same mellowness as it started. It has always been my personal favourite on the album and if I was forced to pick one, still is today.
Alright partner, keep on readin’ baby. You know what song’s next. That’s right, it’s Rollin’. Not only did it become an instant nightclub anthem, it even had its own dance, just like the Time Warp (1973) by The Rocky Horror Show did. Any time this song comes on, people do it, regardless. The lyrics to the song are literally about that fist-wave dance and how cool Durstimus thinks it is. There isn’t really much else to this song. It’s plain, it’s formulaic and it’s simple, but it became an instant classic with the angsty teenagers of the early 00’s.
The next song, Livin’ it Up is similarly mellow as My Way until the chorus gets heavy and chord-laden. It reminds me of something Linkin Park would have done on Hybrid Theory (2000), with lyrics about how life in the fast lane is. The song drops into a slow, almost jam section with just the drums and vocals. All in all this song it pretty throw-away and follows the exact same formula as the previous songs on the album.
Getcha Groove On starts with a similar introduction to Love Don’t Cost a Thing (2001) by Jennifer Lopez and aside from that factoid it’s a pretty boring song. It’s more ‘rap’ than ‘metal’ than the rap-metal genre normally goes, and features vocals from Xzibit and the Durstastic Fred.
Next comes a tune that you’ll more commonly recognise as the Mission Impossible theme. Written for Mission Impossible 2 and slapped on this album, the song starts with that famous tune. Then the vocals come over the top of it. Two verses go by before the MI theme’s heavy rendition kicks in, played by Wes Borland. This is probably the coolest part of the whole album; likely because of the ties to the film, and the interlude section is that whole part few times over. It’s in this song that the red-capped MC admits that he abuses microphones. Let your imagination run wild with just how he does that.
For those of you who remember, Kerrang would never show the video to Boiler before their watershed. I never knew why, maybe it was because the video featured people being made into sausages. The song is definitely one of the most thought-out on the album. The music goes through the motions, following the same pattern between verse and chorus, but with some small flourishes on the bass during the verses. Dursty tries his best not to overpower this song with his usual tirade of shouting and swearing, but instead tries to help mellow the song during the middle. It seems he gets bored of this very quickly though as he reverts back to screaming the word ‘why’ over and over. By this point I feel like Durstimus Prime is now saying my thoughts aloud.
Has this album stood the test of time? Well, yes and no. Limp Bizkit’s breakthrough album may have survived in the rock/metal nightclub scene, but how many people actually still listen to it in their private leisure time? It is still Limp Bizkit’s most successful album to date. Their following release: Results May Vary (2003) did well with Eat You Alive and his cover of Behind Blue Eyes which, at the time, everybody raved about like it was the answer to something, but for the main part, by 2003, the novelty had somewhat worn off.
The whole album is a greasy teenager’s feeble rage wrapped in a plastic case with a Parental Advisory sticker on it. The lyrics are childish, cursing as much as possible, shouting, going out of its way to be ‘offensive’ and constantly banging on about how good he is like its ‘my Dad’s better than your Dad’ and the music is formulaic from start to finish. Every song follows the same format. If it wasn’t for the teenagers at the time, this album would have never sold.
However it may stand now, its undeniable that at one point, Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavoured Water was ‘the’ album in mainstream music. Instantly popular, it just hasn’t aged very well. Today, it’s still popular in some circles, but then again so is Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959).
Devil Horn Rating (out of 5) \m/ \n