Song of the Day: Seeded Crown, "Feel No Shame"
It is mildly insane that three years elapsed between the turn-of-the-century rise of Napster and the arrival of the iTunes Music Store in 2003. Those 36 months blew a massive hole in the music world, essentially creating an entire generation of pop enthusiasts who quickly got used to getting all the tunes they wanted for free. At the time, many peer-to-peer users (myself included) claimed that they would be paying for all of the stuff they were downloading if only there was a useful clearinghouse for actually purchasing digital music. I'd like to think that was true, though even if I was ponying up for tracks on iTunes, I still would have used Napster a ton if only to embrace the weirdness it created.
Remember that the Internet of 2000 was a vastly different enterprise than the one we know today: Many longstanding media institutions still did not have websites, and even the ones that did were criminally lo-fi or merely placeholders for the future. Outside of Pitchfork, web-exclusive content sites were more or less non-existent. Social media was years away from becoming an everyday reality. The bottom line was this: it was exceptionally more difficult to parse out information about music in 2000. Today, most songs can be identified with a simple lyric search or a Shazam, but it was hard to separate fact from fiction in the Internet's wild west.
Case in point: I have had entire conversations about the bevy of mislabeled songs from the Napster era that became minor urban legends and kept fans confused for a good long while. There was a notorious cover of Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice" that was attributed to Phish but was really done by the Gourds. The first version of the Hives' "Hate To Say I Told You So" I ever snagged had the Strokes' name on it. A ton of songs would be labeled "NEW WEEZER" or "UNRELEASED RADIOHEAD," though the songs in question tended to be the uploader's shitty band, some sort of soundalike, or a different band and song entirely. I fell for the Weezer stuff basically every time, as those tracks would surface during the fallow period between Pinkerton and Green wherein it was unclear whether or not Weezer was still actually a band (and without social media, Rivers Cuomo enthusiasts were left to guess). Most of the time these fakeouts enraged me, though I can't entirely be mad at the practice—after all, how else would I have been introduced to Ozma?
In the latter days of the P2P wave, there was even an entire subset of files that flooded hard drives that were specifically designed to frustrate downloaders. They would often consist of little more than 8 second loops of a song's chorus repeated ad nauseum (I used to think that No Doubt's "Hella Good" was nothing more than four minutes of Gwen Stefani singing "You got me feeling hella good/ So let's just keep on dancing," which I thought was a bold but bullshit way to approach dancehall music) or a PSA about how bad it was to illegally download files. These were brilliantly disguised, typically with a running time that matched the time of the song you were looking for.
The point is that it was difficult to determine what was legitimate on Napster, which is how I ended up haunted by a mysterious Slipknot song that I thought i might have made up. The band's second album Iowa arrived at the end of August in 2001, though I had snagged a leaked version of it from Napster a few weeks before it dropped. Napster didn't allow for the downloading of zipped files (or maybe it did, I just never saw them), so full albums had to be grabbed one by one. This could be tricky, as because of the aforementioned lack of information about even hot new releases like Iowa, it was often difficult to discern whether or not you had the full album at your disposal. Just to make sure I had everything, I often ended up with way more tracks than were actually on the album. That was how I ended up with a version of Radiohead's Kid A that had 14 tracks on it, even though the actual album only contained 10. (The remaining quartet of tunes were taken from Radiohead's Airbag/How's My Driving? EP, which consisted of outtakes from OK Computer and represented an obvious tonal shift from the rest of Kid A.) Slipknot's Iowa has 14 songs on it, but the version I burned to a recordable CD and listened to as I walked around Manhattan in the weeks after September 11 contained a fifteenth song. The file I downloaded was called "Untitled" and was placed in between "The Heretic Anthem" and "Gently" on the track list. I loved that it contained a sample at the beginning of somebody yelling, "Is anybody alive out there?" particularly because the vocalist seemed to answer the question: "No." It was the exact brand of nihilism that I embraced following 9/11, when it seemed like the world would be on fire forever and it would be impossible to feel anything ever again. Iowa was one of the few connections I had to humanity, as it allowed me to feel something primal and visceral that wasn't connected to anything socially or politically. It was just pure, unadulterated rage and seething hopelessness. Iowa saved me.
But when I finally did get around to owning a physical copy of the album, it turned out that "Untitled" wasn't an actual track on the album. The song in question was a mystery to me for a long time, and though I have found the song that invaded Iowa 15 years ago, its origins still remain sort of murky. The song is sometimes credited as "Feel No Shame" and the artists listed are Slipknot and Korn, though no record of a collaboration seems to exist. (That version is also often credited as having appeared on the soundtrack to the 2002 Aaliyah-starring vampire flick Queen of the Damned, which is definitely untrue—the song is not on the soundtrack and Queen of the Damned came out a year after Iowa landed.) The artist in question actually appears to be a band called Seeded Crown, though their Internet footprint barely exists. Whatever the origin, this is definitely the song in question, and it undoubtedly changed my experience of Iowa when I was first experiencing it. I often gave it a top-to-bottom listen, and "Giving In" provided a useful buffer between the raucous shout-along of "The Heretic Anthem" and the dirge of "Gently." I still love Iowa, but "Giving In" remains the best song that Slipknot never did.