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Remember When: Korn solved the mystery behind Pirate Ghosts on ‘South Park’?

Posted by on July 29, 2016

Korn South Park van

It’s not that often when metal creeps its way into mainstream pop culture. So when metal/hard rock acts do actually pop up in beloved sitcoms, dramatic films, cartoons or even reality series, it’s kind of awesome. So in the weekly column Remember When, Metal Insider recalls the most random instances of metal’s elite appearing in front of the camera.

In 1999, Korn was one of the most popular rock bands and South Park was one of the most popular animated comedies on TV. They were both also pretty much hated by parents, who thought Korn’s aggressive music and South Park’s vulgar humor were bad influences on their kids. So having Korn appear on an episode of South Park was basically every angst-filled teenager’s dream come true.

However, what makes Korn’s appearance in season 3’s Halloween episode truly timeless is how the band is portrayed in the exact opposite way from you’d expect. In what’s basically a straight up parody of Scooby-Doo, Korn are depicted as a band en route to a radio station gig that also loves to solve spooky mysteries (in this case, PPPPPIRATE GHOSTS!!!). They’ve even got their own groovy Volkswagen van and an adorable creature character named Nibblet. In the end, after uncovering the true identity of the pirate ghosts, they play a little tune for the town of South Park… “Falling Away From Me.”

Even 17 years after this episode aired (yeah, it’s been that long), seeing Korn as Hanna Barbera style-animations and hearing them have intellectual debates about whether they’re looking for “Pirate Ghosts” or “Ghost Pirates” is an unusual yet hysterical thing. So just imagine what it must’ve been like for a teenager in 1999 to watch their favorite, angriest band on their favorite, filthiest cartoon portrayed as… that. As Jonathan Davis puts it so beautifully at the end of the episode (right before playing “Falling Away From Me,” that is), “It’s easy to perceive something some way, and then be wrong. So we all need to learn how to be a little less perceptive.”

South Park is still going strong, with season 20 set to premiere in September, while Korn’s 12th album The Serenity Of Suffering comes out October 21 (and this week, they kicked off a co-headlining tour with Rob Zombie). You’ll have to pay to watch the entire episode online, but a good chunk of Korn’s appearance can be seen in the clips below.

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Categorised in: Columns, Remember When