The Initial Concession and Ultimate Triumph of “Bring Me to Life” By Evanescence (2024)

When Arkansas band Evanescence originally signed with Wind-up Records in 2001, they were sent to Los Angeles for a couple of years to work on their material, hone their chops, and develop something special. The group had previously released the album Origin on their own, and now they were working on a larger scale with songs that would emerge on their Wind-up debut Fallen. The music they were brewing up was a potent elixir of gothic aesthetics, modern metal muscle, and old-school melodic sensibilities.

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While the band would get pegged as nu metal or nu goth, they felt more like a classically tinged metal band combining Amy Lee’s soaring, heartfelt vocals, and Ben Moody’s hefty and expressive guitar playing. It just clicked. Yet the higher-ups at Wind-up were nervous about what to do with the band, despite their obvious talent. A female-fronted rock band in the mainstream was still a rarity at that point two decades ago.

A Concession to the Label

According to Lee, Wind-up wanted to turn them into a female Linkin Park by bringing in a full-time male co-frontman, but she vetoed the idea. It seemed like their musical marriage was off. Weeks later, against the singer’s instincts, she relented to letting them enlist 12 Stones frontman and fellow Wind-up labelmate Paul McCoy to provide rapping during the choruses and third verse of “Bring Me to Life” to give the song a more trendy flavor. And a male presence. It was the one way that the label felt they could get the song more exposure.

“That was not our original plan,” Lee told Metal Hammer in 2021 of the “duet” in “Bring Me to Life,” which was to be placed on a movie soundtrack before Fallen’s release would expose them to the world. “It was something that we had to do, it was a concession we had to make for the label. But at least when we did it, I wrote the part, we took a lot of care in creating it the way that we wanted it to be, and I worked with Paul to get it the way that we still felt it fit our band.”

After “Bring Me to Life” first emerged on the Daredevil movie soundtrack in January 2003, it quickly captured listeners’ ears and received a lot of airplay requests at mainstream rock radio. It became a hit on cable channels like Fuse and MTV2, and later reached No. 5 on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart. Fallen arrived a month later, and in its first six months of release it sold 3 million copies. The album doubled that sales tally by November 2004, and by late 2022 it was certified Diamond for domestic sales of 10 million units, making the Dave Fortman-produced Fallen one of this century’s biggest rock albums.

An Emotional Odyssey

“Bring Me to Life” was an emotional odyssey that resonated with many young listeners as it came from a very personal place for Evanescence’s singer.

“This song was actually written about my now-husband,” Lee explained to Metal Hammer. “I’d been in a really bad, abusive relationship, which had been very difficult for a long time. I thought that I was doing a pretty good job of pretending I was OK, but Josh [Hartzler, Amy’s husband], this guy that I didn’t know really well but I liked a lot, we went into a restaurant while my bandmembers were parking the car. When we sat down, he looked at me right in the eyes, and said, ‘Are you happy?’ It just caught me really off guard. I felt very exposed, but it felt good at the same time—like he could see me. ‘How can you see into my eyes like open doors?’”

Lee and her bandmates may have made a concession to get “Bring Me to Life” to the masses, but the song proved to be a massive hit, selling 3 million copies in America by 2019. And Lee felt relieved once the next single “Going Under,” which represented her band’s true sound, was well-received. The group quickly shifted from playing club dates to arena shows throughout 2003 due to increasingly rabid fan demand to see the band live. The success of their first hit single also strengthened the singer’s resolve to do things her way.

“If there’s one thing that I have fought for in my own personal life and in my career, it’s the right to use my voice,” Lee told the Los Angeles Times in 2021. “Nobody’s going to take that from me.”

A Deal with a Daredevil

“Bring Me to Life” and Fallen are still beloved all these years later. Abi Carter recently covered it on American Idol. For those who may have disliked the unnecessary rapping integrated into the song (no offense to McCoy), the original demo version can be found on the internet. For fans in particular who have not heard it, this early take is definitely worth checking out. It’s better, but one can also understand why the famous version became as big as it did during the time that it did.

One could suggest that Lee had to make a minor deal with the devil for Evanescence to break into the big time. Perhaps it is more suitable in this instance to say she made a deal with a daredevil, and it didn’t work out too badly in the end. The song brought the band’s career to life—beyond the sales, it won the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance, and the group received one for Best New Artist in 2004. Through thick and thin and various lineup changes, Lee has remained on a steady musical trajectory ever since.

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Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

The Initial Concession and Ultimate Triumph of “Bring Me to Life” By Evanescence (2024)

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