By Sanjeev Mann (@Ask_Sanjeevs )
The death of Linkin Park front-man Chester Bennington affected countless people, even those who may not have listened to his work in years. Bennington became a member of Linkin Park in 1998, and released their certified diamond debut album ‘Hybrid Theory’ in 2002 – known as one of the best albums of the decade, it sold almost 30 million copies worldwide and cemented nu rock as one of the biggest genres at the time.
They were a band that represented a new generation and undoubtedly had an impact on the lives of their many fans, especially their teenage following: in a world of chaos, Linkin Park helped those listening know it was okay to be different. For many, Bennington’s voice was one of support and understatement.
Whether it’s nostalgia, genuine enjoyment or a mixture of both, the news of Bennington’s suicide was shocking and emotional to us all. Not only did his death highlight the fragility of life but also the importance of mental health, especially in men where the biggest killer of those under the age of 30 is suicide. To pay tribute to the talented musician, myself and other contributors of the site have put our thoughts in words and list what we see at the ten most important songs from Linkin Park.
Album – One More Light
Probably the most controversial pick, the single ‘Heavy’ comes from the band’s latest album ‘One More Light’ which released on May 19th this year. Over the years they tried a variety styles and genres from rock and rap to dance and pop. This has caused a bit of a stir among hardcore fans, but much to his credit Bennington and the band remained adamant that it was the music that they wanted to create. Regardless, this track is as emotional as any single before. “I’m holding on, why is everything so heavy” puts in a nutshell. He wanted to tell us that much of our pain is self-inflicted. The track also aims to give hope amidst difficult times.
Also as touched on (like it or not) it perfectly sums up their change from Nu Metal, towards pop/rock in album’s such as’ Minutes to Midnight’, and ‘A Thousand Suns’. This is something that Bennington was quick to respond to , “Why are we still talking about ‘Hybrid Theory’? Move the fuck on”. A fair comment for those stuck on the past as bands are allowed to change genre after all. This is most definitely a track that represents the bands change in direction.
Album – Collision Course
This really was a track that combined the best of the rap and rock world at the time. This JayZ collaboration was sure to make waves in the music world and is no doubt the best and most successful song on the album between the two stars. It also perfectly illustrates and reflects the bands massive hip hop influence thanks to writer Mike Shinoda and turntablist Joseph Hahn. It’s a side of the band that many often forget about because of the power of Chester’s voice. Ever since the start they were keen to be different and always focused on a fusion of the two genres. Originally it was only a one off but the pair liked it so much the decided to release the album ‘ Collision Course’.
Linkin Park as a whole helped me transition into some of the heavier bands I listen to today. Numb is still a fantastic song for me and Numb/Encore played a large part in my life growing up. I really appreciated Heavy from the latest album because I like it when bands change and try their hand at new styles and listened to Heavy a lot when it came out. RIP Chester, serious tragedy.
– Will Sexton (@willshesleeps)
8. What I’ve Done
Album – Minutes to Midnight
Coming from the bands third album ‘Minutes to Midnight’ the heavy lyrics obviously refer to past mistakes and regrets. Chester’s lyrics almost suggests that he’s referring to not just himself but for mankind itself, as shown by the accompanying music video. It’s a song that epitomises their deep and emotional lyrics. It was arguably one of their breakthrough singles on the mainstream scene. Not only were they appealing to rap and rock fans, but pop too. After a four-year hiatus they were back, but with a more adult and mature feel to their music.
Album – Meteora
The title says it all. Even when Chester was a young boy, he was bullied and always felt on the outside. His history with abuse at a young age is evident. It’s almost a song that represents those who are on the outside of society. It easily their most known and successful song they’ve ever written. It received massive mainstream success across pop and rock charts and spent six weeks at the top of the charts and twelve weeks on top of the rock charts. The track also received critical success and definitely sums a decade of rock and nu metal. Along with the likes of Limp Bizkit, this genre in its infancy was for the first time gaining mainstream success, and this was partly due to songs such as this. “Caught in the undertow, just caught in the undertow” puts it perfectly. He wanted to tell us that no matter what he done, he was stuck in the same place – with what has happened recently, this song carries even more of an emotional punch.
Album – Hybrid Theory
This is the first song on the list featuring a track from their first album Hybrid Theory. The Grammy award winning single featured less of rapper and producer Mike Shinoda and more of lead singer Chester Bennington’s aggressive vocals. This is definitely a song that shows off the wide range of his voice, from singing to screaming, he can do it all. The track focuses on his past experience with drug abuse, from experimenting with cocaine and crystal meth, the chorus being an obvious nod to not only this but the depression he had fought for most of his life.
I remember being about 11/12 when I saw the video for Faint. Just the raw aggression of it, and how cool everyone looked, because back when you were an angsty teenager, Linkin Park were the epitome of cool. I saw them in Birmingham a few weeks ago, sadly at what would become their last gig, and Faint sounded as angry and as amazing as it did when I was 12. Chester still sounded like he always did, and it made me so happy to see those songs that shaped my teenager years performed live.
It’s such a tragedy to have lost him so soon, and so young. But, I think there’s millions upon millions of people out there who’ll all say the same thing: Linkin Park were their first love. And it’s so sad to have lost your first love.
– Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)
5. Pushing Me Away
Album – Hybrid Theory
The last track from their debut album, Pushing Me Away was extremely successful considering it wasn’t released as its own single. The track is about someone who is in a relationship but can’t stand being with his partner because he only sees his bad side in her. He thought things were ok, but is now beginning to feel the relationship is almost fake. He’s trying to pull away but ends up pushing himself back in over and over again.”Why I never walked away/ Why I played myself this way/ Now I see you’re testing me pushes me away” shows this struggle, a regular theme amongst a few Linkin Park songs on relationships. A typically moody emotional track which is renowned from that incredible first album. A vintage Linkin Park song, typical to their debut style.
4. From The Inside
Album – Meteora
One of their heavier tracks from ‘Meteora’, this really has a deep and dark outlook even with its seemingly melodic and calm beginning. It develops into a hard-hitting chorus with more focus on Chester’s powerful screaming vocals which at one stage lasts for around 10 seconds. The lyrics here focus on being betrayed yet again by someone he believed he could trust. The betrayal was almost expected, and now feels has almost distances himself from relationships because of this. He can longer trust because of lies and past experiences. It’s an aggressive track with true feeling behind it, thanks to the real emotion in Chester’s voice. A favourite among more of the heavy rock influenced fans of the band. Definitely a track to get your own frustration out!
I remember discovering Linkin Park aged 12, and thinking they were the coolest band I had ever heard. I soon found myself constantly listening to singles such as Numb, truly feeling a connection with the lyrics despite being so young and naive. But the simplicity of this connection was in reality so strong, as in retrospect their music did shape who I was at that time and who I turned out to be. The news of Chester’s death truly pained me and upset me, more so than many Celebrity deaths as of recent.
To reflect on his lyrics, written with such honesty, rawness and pain, is heartbreaking, and it’s so sad that his demons were what killed him. But it is touching to see how many people his music helped, even if now I know I don’t need it. I don’t, but many do, and that’s what makes his death so tragic. I can only hope his legacy lives on and their music continues to touch the lives of many.
– Anna Cowan (@L0VESlCK)
3. By Myself
Album – Hybrid Theory
It’s time for the top 3, and it’s ‘By Myself’ that wins the bronze. Originally called ‘Sad’ and coming from their pre-signed name ‘Xero’, this track again talks about again a common Linkin Park theme, trusting others around you, and yourself too. Chester’s previous problems with drug addiction, and alcohol abuse are well documented and this track could be a direct reflection of this. He also sings about doing what’s needed to survive the environment that surround us, and asks himself why he’s still feeling pain. “I ask why, but in my mind/I find I can’t rely on myself (myself)“. He knows inside that he can’t even trust himself, never mind others. Nothing can help his emotions, and is almost putting on a face that isn’t him – an analysis that feels especially haunting now.
Album – Meteora
“I can’t feel the way I did before” illustrates Chester’s change in emotions after things went downhill. He was now a different person to who he wanted to be after past experiences. The track was a massively important track to the band because of the lyricism in the single that almost reflects their position in the music industry. Shinoda’s first verse put’s it nicely with 2 possible connotations; “I am what I want you to want/ What I want you to feel“. The first conveys that they are only trying to be themselves, even after receiving a lot of hate due to being and independent/ underground music artist in the mainstream. In a 2013 interview by pigeonsandplanes.com, Mike said; “Indie music purists may want to hate… simply because I represent a mainstream music act which they think is at odds with their “independent” or “underground” aesthetic. If that’s you, so be it; I know your deal”. The other meaning could come down to a common teenage problem. Being different, and trying to fit in with everyone else, something I’m sure many teenagers have at some point experienced during their time in secondary school. This is a typical track true to the early Linkin Park days, and a firm favourite amongst the bands heavier and hardcore fans.
It’s hard for me to think of a time during my childhood where Linkin Park weren’t present or played a role in some way. Whether it be during my adolescence where Hybrid Theory would be played on repeat or I’d chuck What I’ve Done on Guitar Hero to let out that teen angst. This made it equally hard in recent years when it came to criticising the band, something that I felt extremely guilty of following the news of Chester’s passing. However, I know it was so much more than just reviews that lead to his fate and it’s something that myself and many others struggle with on a day to day basis. Much like Sanjeev pointed out in the intro, Chester’s death is a reminder of why now more than ever that we have to be transparent about mental health as it is no longer something we can be quiet about. The more we talk, the more we help.
– Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)
1. In The End
Album – Hybrid Theory
Here it is then! My number 1 quintessential Linkin Park track from their incredible and turbulent career. Of course, it’s ‘In the End’, a song that has it all. Strong emotion and meaning, talented musicians, huge mainstream and critical success and a brilliant hook to put the icing on the cake. This really is a track that left the music world in awe, and not just the ‘Nu metal’ rock scene. This is definitely Linkin Park in their purest, most accurate selves. Released as the 4th single from ‘Hybrid Theory’, ‘In the End’ was a blockbuster and most definitely the most popular, and recognizable track they’ve ever released. Again, it received mostly excellent reviews with most critics applauding the trademark piano rift. Kerrang also credited the track as the number 1 best Rock song of all time in a top 100 list in 2015.
The song itself is about someone who’s relationship worked in the past, but only due to him not being his real honest self. “I tried so hard and got so far/ But in the end, it doesn’t even matter/ I had to fall to lose it all/But in the end, it doesn’t even matter.” The strong lyrics also talks about his partner in relationship not even knowing the real him because he kept “everything inside”. Finally, in possibly their best hook, Chester refers to a concept called Nihilism. A concept created by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzshe. This idea essentially means everything equals up to nothing, and if this idea is followed life is pointless and without purpose. Linking to song, the person has given up with everything after his relationship crumbled. He’s so angry he couldnt care less. “I tried so hard and got so far/ But in the end, it doesn’t even matter/ I had to fall to lose it all/But in the end, it doesn’t even matter“. A dark yet troubled insight into someone’s life, the song is a brilliant reminder of how important a part Linkin Park, and music as a whole play’s in everyday life. A typical song from an emotional band, that sums up an entire generation of music. This is definitely 100% Linkin Park in their purest, most accurate selves.