Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

Down with the Sickness

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Released  October 31, 2000
Length  4:38 3:42 (radio edit)
Producer(s)  Johnny K
Genre  Nu metal
Label  Giant
Writer(s)  Steve Kmak Dan Donegan Mike Wengren David Draiman

"Down with the Sickness" is a song by the American band Disturbed. The song was recorded in 1999 and was released as the third single from their debut studio album, The Sickness. The song is one of Disturbed's best-known songs and is a concert staple, usually played as the last song. This was their first single to be certified platinum in the United States by the Recording Industry Association of America.


Music and composition

"Down With the Sickness" is a nu metal song that features a famous "ooh-wah-ah-ah-ah" staccato noise from Disturbed's singer David Draiman at the end of the intro, which reappears from time to time throughout the song. Draiman has stated the sound was made possible by effects on his vocal cords after receiving surgery for acid reflux, but he has dismissed the rumor the noise was actually caused by heartburn, further explaining, "I mean the song originally was written and just had a pause. Mikey's beat is just so tribal and you know it just made me feel like an animal... [The noise] came out one day."

Guitarist Dan Donegan has mentioned that the tuning for the guitar "is drop C-sharp... your bottom five strings are half a step down and your low string will be dropped to C-sharp." This is sometimes referred to as "E Drop D", the most common drop tuning for bands who play generally in E standard instead of E standard.

The musical instruments that were used in the song include guitar, bass guitar, electronics, drums, and vocals. The tempo throughout the song consists of a kick-drum and bass guitar rhythm that gives the song the heavy metal/rock feeling.


A spoken segment near the end of the song seems to describe a child who is physically abused by his mother and who ultimately retaliates. This segment is somewhat controversial and music critics sometimes express a negative opinion of its inclusion in the song. For example, Leor Galil of the Chicago Reader opined, "Yet I still find it hard to believe that the megasingle 'Down With the Sickness,' with its idiotic vocal breakdown in which front man David Draiman crudely describes being beaten by his mom (and vice versa), guided the band on to a path that’s resulted in four albums topping the Billboard 200."

However, the band has disavowed that this song is about literal child abuse, and that it is instead about a metaphoric abuse. Lead singer Dave Draiman explained to the Phoenix New Times:

...the screamed psychodramas in metal hits like "Down With The Sickness" ... are merely inspired by personal history, not a literal journal of his own tortured upbringing. "I'm really talking about the conflict between the mother culture of society, who's beating down the child yearning for independence and individuality, and the submission of the child."

The "abuse" segment is not included in the radio edit or the music video.


  • David Draiman – vocals
  • Dan Donegan – guitar, electronics
  • Steve Kmak – bass guitar
  • Mike Wengren – drums, percussion, programmer
  • Johnny K – producer, engineer
  • Andy Wallace – mixer
  • Howie Weinberg – mastering
  • Music video

    A music video composed of live concert footage was produced for the song. The song is known for its segment which features a boy being attacked and abused by his mother, which was not featured in the music video. The music video was recorded at the "Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre" (at the time the Tweeter Center) in Tinley Park, IL during Q101's Jamboree 2001.

    In media

    The song has been used often as entrance music in sports. Many college football and National Football League (NFL) teams (including the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, the Delaware Blue Hens and the Houston Texans have played it as the players enter the field, and mixed martial artists, Steve Cantwell, Rousimar Palhares, and Mark Bocek have entered to the song at various Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) events. The Carolina Panthers have used the song as the team's entrance music for home games at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, and used the song as its entrance music in Super Bowl 50.

    The song is included in several films and video games, including Queen of the Damned, The One, Green Street, Rock Band 2, South Park, Guitar Hero Live and as part of the Guitar Hero 5 downloadable content library (The Guitar Hero and Rock Band version with the "abuse" segment intact, however all curse words were removed).

    The 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead used the song during the end credits and the piano accompaniment by Richard Cheese that is played throughout the film.

    It is currently the opening theme song on the Travel Channel show Paranormal Challenge.

    The song is used as the opening track to the J. T. the Brick Show featuring J. T. the Brick and Tomm Looney on Fox Sports Radio.

    An instrumental version is used in the opening video for Image Space Incorporated's game rFactor.

    The song was also used by professional wrestlers Chri$ Ca$h, Lizmark Jr. and numerous other wrestlers as their entrance song.

    The song was featured in the season 11 premiere episode of the adult animated comedy South Park, titled "With Apologies to Jesse Jackson".


  • Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine recorded a cover of "Down with the Sickness" for their 2002 album, Tuxicity, which was featured in Zack Snyder's 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic used the song in his polka medley "Angry White Boy Polka" on his 2003 album Poodle Hat.
  • References

    Down with the Sickness Wikipedia