Deftones are one of the most experimental metal bands out there, always ahead of the game in terms of artistic style and never afraid to try something new. Over time, their sound has evolved from the heavy nu-metal wave to something all their own. In this article, we’ll look at the 25 best songs Deftones ever released.
1. Change (In the House of Flies)
Deftones absolutely changed the game with their White Pony album, evolving well beyond the nu-metal genre and landing on the cutting edge of alternative metal and art rock. Change (In The House Of Flies) was the lead single off the album, and it was by far the biggest song to come from the album and the true turning point for the band.
For most of their career, it was their most commercially successful single in history, peaking at number nine on the Mainstream Rock charts and climbing to number 53 on the UK Singles chart. It was meant to detail the changes a person goes through after a traumatic breakup but really works as a soundscape and sprawling lyrical description of a person turning into a fly,
2. Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)
Deftones’ second album was one of their most successful, producing truly amazing music while they were still holding tight to the elements of the nu-metal wave they had just helped create. The second single to come from Around The Fur, Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away) was their first single to make it onto any of the US charts, peaking at number 29 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart while also making it into the top 50 of the UK Singles chart.
It started out in typical nu-metal fashion with a stunning guitar section that eventually moved into something more melodic, creating new fans of the band, genre, and style as a whole.
Tempest is a relatively new song from Deftones, an entry from their seventh studio album Koi No Yokan in 2012. It came out in October of that year, coinciding with the end-of-the-world scare of 2012 that was “predicted” by a Mayan calendar. That was definitely fitting, seeing as that was the theme of the track itself. It was foreboding and brooding, and quite possibly their best song on the album.
Described as post-metal, this rolled multiple striking riffs together to rise up to number 13 on the Rock Airplay chart and number 45 on the Hot Rock and Alternative Songs chart. It even climbed to number three on the Hot Mainstream Rock charts, surpassing Change (In The House Of Flies) as their highest-charting track on that list.
4. My Own Summer
Deftones’ second album Around The Fur was released in 1997 and was one of the defining albums in the nu-metal genre that was booming at the time. The lead single from the album was My Own Summer and formed the blueprint for nu-metal bands going forward. It was the song that showed alternative metal could have just as much success being clever and artful as it could just riffing off basslines.
It also became their first single to make it onto any commercial charts, climbing up to number 29 on the UK Singles chart. One of the coolest places for you to hear the track is on the soundtrack for the film The Matrix.
Passenger was an interesting song for Deftones. It featured Maynard James Keenan, the lead singer of Tool, and not everyone was happy about it. Originally, the band had no intention of having any guests on the album, but after working with Keenan, they called him in to help in recording the track.
The song itself became a masterclass of alternative metal vocalists, showcasing what were probably the two best voices in the scene playing off of each other.
6. Digital Bath
As great as White Pony was, it was great because it was something fresh that delicately balanced elements of pretty and intimidating songs. Digital Bath is perhaps the best example on the album of that balance, featuring quiet passages during the turbulent structure of the track. While pretty, it’s not one for the easily offended. Lyrically, this is about luring a woman into a bath and electrocuting her.
7. Diamond Eyes
The title track of Deftones’ sixth studio album would define the band going forward. After losing Chi Cheng permanently, it showcased all of the pang and anger the band was feeling in one of the most beautiful songs they had ever released. It wasn’t just a classic heavy track, it reeked of pure emotion until it climaxed into utter destruction. It signaled to the world that they were back and that they had found a new sound—at least kind of new—and became a major fan favorite.
8. Knife Prty
Deftones are known for the psychosexual vibes in their songs but they have never shied away from violent imagery either. Knife Prty is a bit of the best of both worlds, seeing the band produce a song alongside female vocalist Rodleen Getsic that was both seductive and violent. It was a standout on their incredible White Pony album that had an interesting inspiration. One weird party they were at saw everyone dancing around with a knife from Abe Cunningham’s collection, leading to the title.
Deftones’ fourth studio album was an eponymous one, and its lead single was Minerva. It was a bit of an odd choice as a lead single, with the album being some of their heaviest work ever, and this stands out as one of the few songs on the album that didn’t trend in that direction. It mixed shoegaze with mainstream alternative metal in a crushing but textured banger that ended up reaching number nine on the Alternative Songs chart and number 15 on the Mainstream Rock chart.
10. Rocket Skates
Rocket Skates was the second single released from Deftones’ 2009 album Diamond Eyes, and the first song the band released after losing bassist Chi Cheng. It was compared to their earlier tracks and received a massive amount of praise from critics. A return to the heavy stuff that made them famous wasn’t a bad thing after a decade of producing music and experimenting with their sound, resulting in a song that’s deserving of being on the list of the best they’ve ever produced.
Adrenaline wasn’t nearly as polished as White Pony or Around The Fur, but it showed how much potential Deftones had in their genre. Much of the album was harsh, but Bored had something a little more. The wailing vocals from Chino Moreno added an extra layer of authenticity and emotion that was a bit lacking in much of the rest of the album despite how good it was and it really helped show that they could stand up with the titans of the alternative metal genre going forward.
12. 7 Words
Adrenaline was Deftones’ debut album, but they sounded like they had been in the genre for years. Realistically, that’s because the group had been playing live shows together for years before. 7 Words was the first promotional single released from the album in 1995 and was instrumental in getting them off the ground. It was also one of the most important songs on the album, seeing vocalist Chino Moreno lash out against the oppression Latinos face in California, devolving into a rage-inducing mosh-centric banger of a track.
13. Pink Maggit
Pink Maggit was another amazing entry from White Pony, and one the band would try to recapture in a song that we’ll see later on in the list. A track about going back to school and all the pitfalls and emotions that went with it, it stood out as one of their best songs and became a massive fan favorite on ranking websites.
14. Hole In The Earth
One of the things you should know about Deftones’ sound is that they got to this style by clashing artistic styles. Hole In The Earth came during one of the band’s toughest times of their career, but it’s one of the best examples of the competing ideas and sounds that have made them frontrunners in the alternative metal genre.
15. Beauty School
Beauty School is Deftones at their maximum, pushing all their gear and instruments as far as they can possibly go and verging on breaking them down. It’s also a deeply stirring song that can have a couple of different meanings. It’s either very metaphorical, discussing societal standards of beauty and the faces we put on for the world, or it’s literal and about the use of MDMA. It was honestly an underrated track on Diamond Eyes.
Teething is one of Deftones’ most slept-on songs, with most people that aren’t massive fans of the band never having heard of it. It was a standalone single that featured on the soundtrack to City Of Angels alongside great bands like Korn. Full of defiance and stellar rhymes from Chino Moreno, it’s truly a shame that it didn’t have a lot of reach outside of diehard Deftones fans.
Teenager was a weird song for Deftones, even on their White Pony album. They ditched the bass guitar, drums, and everything except an acoustic guitar loop to make something… emo? It was such a big switch-up for the band that you might have thought it wouldn’t work, but it did.
On an album that fit Deftones’ atmospheric aesthetic more than their heavier side, Genesis stood out for combining huge grooves with violent lyrics. One of their newest songs, it’s one of their heaviest to date, standing up to all of their early work and surpassing quite a bit of it.
Lotion is supposedly aimed at one specific person, but it’s pretty easy to interpolate the lyrics as being aimed at the music industry as a whole. If it’s aimed at anyone in particular, it’s likely one of the sell-outs that vocalist Chino Moreno considers, but he has never wanted to name them when talking about the song. It’s another example from Around The Fur that showcases the band’s ability to blend harsh and soothing tones while making sure every emotion in the track is felt, not just rage.
The title of this one is a direct reference to a cheat code that worked in almost every early Konami video game. By pressing U,U,D,D,L,R,L,R,A,B,Select,Start, the player could gain an advantage in the game, with this song likely referencing Contra, where it would grant the player 30 lives.
Leathers was an official release, but it did leak on the band’s official website as part of their Koi No Yokan album in 2012. Sadly, it was the last album Chi Cheng would work on as he, unfortunately, passed less than a month after the album was released. While it was a devastating blow, that energy seemed to be channeled into Deftones’ future projects, and this was one of their hardest-hitting songs of all time.
22. Acid Hologram
Deftones aren’t known for making psychedelic or trippy music, but they got pretty darn close with Acid Hologram. You might look at the song—and the album it came on—and say “well this isn’t true metal,” but that’s exactly the point of Deftones. They do it their own way, and just like bands like Tool and Korn, they’re on the cutting edge of alternative metal.
Sextape holds the distinction of being the most sensual, sexy, and sexual song the Deftones produced, though you might be able to guess that from the title. It had more of a groove to it than the other tracks on Around The Fur, and incidentally, this song made many people question the explanation for the album’s title.
24. Back To School (Mini Maggit)
While Pink Maggit was one of the band’s best songs, Back To School (Mini Maggit) was an altered version of the track that was released as both a single and an EP package not long after the White Pony album. They aren’t too happy about the track, seeing it as a mainstream attempt to recapture Pink Maggit for an extra single release.
Despite that, it brings together the rap-rock of Adrenaline, the excitement of Around The Fur, and the art-rock style of White Pony to encompass everything great about Deftones when it was released.
25. Romantic Dreams
Nobody is going to claim Koi No Yokan as Deftones’ best album. That being said, it shined in several moments if you look at songs individually, and Romantic Dreams was another one of those great tracks. The final single released from the album, this song reflects the title of the album in that it’s trying to avoid falling in love at first sight but still falling regardless.
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