“It starts with one thing. I don’t know why it doesn’t really matter how hard you tried…” I really used to love Linkin Park, man. I honestly and ashamedly forgot about how much I liked them growing up because they really weren’t good enough at the alt-pop thing to stay as big as they were in the early 2000s. But when I was growing up, dude, I swear Linkin Park was easily one of my most listened to artists. With artists like Grimes and Bring Me the Horizon and Poppy starting to bring back that electro-nu metal sound, I feel like I have to pay tribute to those first few Linkin Park records. Remember Hybrid Theory?? Bro, I swear that record had me wanting to punch a brick wall in the BEST way. In an age where social media and really all forms of media drove kids to feel anxious, depressed, and in a box, Linkin Park captured those emotions and gave kids a musical outlet to relate to. Linkin Park highlighted yo feeling go grow up in such a rapidly changing and frantic time.
Linkin Park, originally called Zero, was formed in Agora Hills, California while members Mike Shinoda, Rob Bourdon, Dave Farrell, and Brad Delson were in high school. After Dave Farrell left the band and they changed their name to Hybrid Theory and making numerous demo tape they were discovered by multi-platinum record producer and A&R executive Jeff Blue, Linkin Park added metal vocalist Chester Bennington, who’s unique and intense style helped solidify the band’s unique sound. Chester provided a hard and angry contrast to the rap hip hop feel Mike Shinoda gave the band and made Linkin Park sound different and more modern or even futuristic than other rock artists of that time. When Jeff Blue became the Vice President of Warner Bros. Records, the band again changed its name to Linkin Park and inked a deal through Jeff Blue with Warner Bros after rejections by many other labels. Around this time, Dave Farrell rejoined Linkin Park. In 2000, Linkin Park released their debut studio album Hybrid Theory and were propelled into stardom.
Hybrid Theory immediately turned Linkin Park into a household name. I am remember being obsessed with so many songs from this record. Growing with mental health issues and not feeling like I could talk about it, albums like this made me feel like I had an outlet or someone to relate to. There are many songs on this album that I played on repeat growing up, like “In the End,” “Papercut,” “Crawling,” and “One Step Closer.” If there is one thing that is common about all of these songs, and most of the songs on this record, is that they are very angry sounding. My favorite one of these songs is definitely “One Step Closer.” Through the lyrics and pain in his voice, Chester really captures the emotions he is feeling, singing “All these thoughts they make no sense, I found bliss in ignorance.” This is such a relatable feeling to those of us who felt sad and did not understand it growing up; it is like we would literally rather know nothing and feel dumb than have all of these mostly negative thoughts about everything around us running through our heads with no way to stop or control them. Hybrid Theory provided a way for us to cope because we knew there were other people that felt the same way.
In 2003, Linkin Park released Meteora, which was also extremely successful, and solidified Linkin Park as one of the biggest rock artists at the time. Meteora follows a very similar style and formula to their previous work, focusing on their unique fusion of hip hop and alternative metal. This album’s lyricism also has an emphasis on emotions like pain and anxiety, and probably contains Linkin Park’s biggest songs to date, besides “What I’ve Done” which was essentially the theme song for the first Transformers movie. The biggest songs on this record are “Numb” and “Faint,” which at this point are straight up nu-metal classics. “Numb” is about a failing relationship; once again the pain that Chester is feeling is palpable. On the chorus he sings “I’ve become so numb, I can’t feel you there. Become so tired, so much more aware. By becoming this all I want to do is be more like me and be less like you.” Imagine being in a relationship that is so bad you are conscious of the fact you need to be nothing like your partner. Yikes! “Faint” is probably my favorite Linkin Park track. It is a super fast paced and intense rap-metal track and honestly makes me want to punch something when I hear it(Once again in the best way). On the chorus of this one, Mike and Chester scream/sing “I can’t feel the way I did before, don’t turn your back on me I won’t be ignored.” The emotions in this song are so easy to feel through listening to it. It is another one of many tracks that made a lot of people feel like they had at least one person to relate to.
After a few side projects from various members of the band and a combination album of Meteora and Jay Z’s The Blueprint called Collision Course that basically just mashes up songs from both of those albums(it is fricken awesome), they released Minutes to Midnight. It was released in 2007 and is honestly probably the last album by Linkin Park I was into. This album was where Linkin Park started to head in a more electro-pop direction, and they just were not as good at it as the other artists doing it. This album contains the aforementioned “What I’ve Done,” which is an intense pop-rock song. The other biggest song from this record is “Bleed It Out.” In my opinion, it is by far the best song on the album; it has the same feel as some of their older rap-metal songs like “Faint.” I love how the song progressively gets louder and bigger as it goes on, with the peak being the epic bridge sung by Chester. This is one of those songs where his vocals can give you chills because you can hear the pain in his voice.
On July 20, 2017, Chester Bennington died, from suicide by hanging. It was about two months after his best friends and rock and roll legend Chris Cornell also killed himself. Chester always struggled with anxiety and depression, and it was obvious to hear it in his lyrics. His death was a shock to all of us who loved Linkin Park growing up, and he is very missed. He is survived by his wife, Talinda, and his six children. If you or anyone you know is talking about wanting to end it all, please please please call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 800-273-8255.
Growing up, Linkin Park was one of the most unique and awesome music artists around. They mashed up metal music and rap music in a really cool way, and the intensity of their lyrics gave so many kids who suffered from mental health issues something to relate to. I can remember laying in bed playing their songs over and over again. If you want to get nostalgic and remember this great band, click the Spotify link below!