Welcome to Musical Appreciation. A month ago, on July 20, Chester Bennington was found dead in his home from suicide by hanging. This news shocked everyone, especially those who are Linkin Park fans. For many young people in the 2000s, Chester was the voice of their generation and the music he made with Linkin Park helped them get through a lot. For me, not only did this band help get me through hard times, but they were a gateway for my love of rock music. I know it’s a bit late, but I wanted to pay tribute to Chester and this band by looking at their debut album that kickstarted their careers and defined the sound of rock in the new millennium. This is Hybrid Theory.
- Papercut: The first track is Papercut. A nu-metal track dominated by the rapping of Mike Shinoda, describing the feeling of being paranoid and being worried about every little insignificant thing. It’s a cool song and a good intro to the album.
- One Step Closer: The song that introduced the world to Linkin Park, One Step Closer. It’s become one of their signature songs and for good reason because this rocks. Featuring one of the catchiest choruses in rock, some hard-hitting instrumentation, and a memorable bridge, this song is just fun to jam out to.
- With You: Next up is With You. Mixing the instrumentals of metal with vinyl scratches you’d hear in rap records, this is a sound not uncommon to a lot of nu-metal. Both Mike and Chester go on about feeling attached to someone even after they left. Some feelings don’t go away overnight, they might permeate for a matter of time until either they go away or they get back together. This song is a real highlight of the album to me.
- Points Of Authority: Next is Points Of Authority, which is aimed at an abuser who sees someone weaker than them and take advantage, leaving physical and psychological damage. These people often think they’re not doing anything wrong and thus, would continue the pattern. People from broken homes where abuse is rampant and those who are victims of bullying can connect to this song and relate.
- Crawling: When it comes to Linkin Park songs, this is the one song that most people can’t stand. While I can sort of understand that, there is some depth within Crawling that I think deserves some respect. Like the last song, it’s focused on the psychological effect that years of abuse had on Chester when he was a kid. He’s screeching out his pain because he feels like no one could help him break out of the cycle. It’s kind of eerie listening to this song because of what happened to Chester and he released pain into this one track. Is it one of my favorites? No, but I think it’s a decent song.
- Runaway: Next is Runaway, which captures how someone feels when they feel useless by the people around them and want to escape. It could also be interpreted as a response to Chester’s parents having a divorce when he was younger. As one can tell, Chester was a tormented soul who put his heart on his sleeve.
- By Myself: By Myself is a look at a man with no self-confidence or self-esteem, looking for a way to deal with the pain. For Chester and other people, that method was through drugs, which was only good for a temporary fix, but ends up making things worse in the long run. A tragic song, but a good one nonetheless.
- In The End: I’ve already talked about this song in my 100 Best Songs of the 2000s list, so go there to see my thought on it. I don’t have anything else to add. Next song.
- A Place For My Head: Next is A Place For My Head, a song for those who feel like they don’t fit in with those they’re surrounded by and wanting to be in an environment where they feel like they truly belong. In other words, it’s the anthem for the black sheep all around.
- Forgotten: The next track is Forgotten. I didn’t say this song was literally forgotten, that’s actually the name of the song. Anyways, Forgotten is focused on a memory or dream someone is trying to remember, but can’t due to the dark place they’re in. This song is cool. Next.
- Cure For The Itch: Then we have Cure For The Itch. This song is different from the previous as it’s not performed by either Mike or Chester, but by Linkin Park’s DJ Joe Jahn, flipping samples and doing vinyl scratches for what’s basically an instrumental interlude. Not much to say about it. It’s pretty dope.
- Pushing Me Away: And now for the final track (on the standard version), Pushing Me Away. This song is on a bond with a person that probably isn’t the best for someone, yet they can’t see themselves without them for some reason. And there’s a line in the song that stuck to me the most: “even the people who never frown eventually break down.” That’s some deep shit right there.
And that was Hybrid Theory, one of the best rock albums of the past decade. The instrumentation mixes many different styles of music from nu-metal to grunge to rap metal to alternative. It’s a sound that represents the time it was made in, yet it holds up pretty well. Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda play off each other well vocally. A lot of the writing dives into the issues that Chester had experienced in his life: child abuse, drugs and alcohol, isolation, depression, his parents’ divorce, etc. All of the emotions that have been locked inside are now open for the world to see and experience and it’s not surprising that a lot of kids connected to this since they went through some of the same experiences that are portrayed. Even if their last couple of albums aren’t that great, there’s still a lot of ambition with Linkin Park that has to be admired. My condolences go out to Chester’s family and friends for their loss. The music world lost someone special.
So that was Musical Appreciation. Next time, we’ll talk about Royals.
(No Songs Of The Week for this post)