It’s regretful that I’m even writing this today.
Chester Bennington, lead singer of the band Linkin Park, has committed suicide.
Linkin Park was one of the first bands that I ever really got into. As an angry youth growing up impoverished and fatherless, I connected with the sense of angst and frustration that was emitted through their music.
As both the voice and face of the band, Chester’s death effectively marks the end of Linkin Park.
Which is a real tragedy, considering how the band means so much to so many people.
In honor of how Chester was able to connect with so many people on a personal level, I’ve gone ahead and ranked the 10 best songs in the band’s history.
10. What I’ve Done
Forgiving someone is tough, but not nearly as tough as forgiving yourself. This is the monumental task in which What I’ve Done seeks to accomplish.
It’s a song about facing your actions, accepting them as irredeemable, and allowing yourself to move forward towards improvement.
Although you probably wouldn’t have guessed that, thanks to Transformers inexplicably using it as its theme song.
9. One Step Closer
One major specialty of Linkin Park has always been the “Fuck you” song.
In basic terms, a “Fuck you” song describes finally standing up to a physical/emotional/spiritual abuser and telling them to go fuck themselves.
While LP’s discography is littered with songs of this variety, none ever felt so cathartically satisfying as One Step Closer.
The track is full of emotional peaks, with each verse slowly building up to the next chorus. The song finally works its way up to a climactic crescendo, with Chester belting the iconic “Shut up!” bridge.
It’s a terrific song to release anger and frustration to, which is probably why it’s one of the band’s most popular.
8. Easier To Run
The 6th track on the critically acclaimed Meteora is a brief tale of escapism. Rather than deal with the emotional toll that comes with facing our problems or mistakes, this song presents the alternative of simply running away.
However, the song seems to have an underlying tone of reverse psychology. Chester’s constant repetition of “It’s easier to run” makes it very clear that running away isn’t actually the right thing to do. Rather, we should probably listen to Shinoda’s regret-ridden pre-chorus:
“If I could change, I would
Take out the pain, I would
Retrace every wrong move that I made, I would
If I could stand up and take the blame, I would
I would take all my shame to the grave”
7. In The End
This was many people’s first introduction to Linkin Park. Luckily, In The End functions quite well in that role.
Its overall message of relational inequity, trading vocals between Chester and Mike, and climactic bridge section is a harmonious balance of what the band is all about.
Going back to the song’s message, the lyrical content is quite didactic. Unrequited love is almost impossible to even out, and continued attempts to do so are often futile.
Thank you, Linkin Park, for this lesson that was so useful to me at age 10. Also, thanks for this piano melody that is always impressive to hear someone play.
Faint is perhaps the quintessential Nu metal song. It features rap verses, heavy guitars on the chorus, and a bridge section that’s full of screaming. Lots. Of. Screaming.
This track is one of the best showcases of Chester’s range, as he goes from guttural yelling to a soft spoken refrain and back to a more high-pitched scream, all within ten seconds.
The lyrical content might still be the best part, though. Shinoda and Chester combine to spill out all their insecurities (“I am a little bit of loneliness…”/”I am a little bit insecure…”), no matter how uncomfortable it might make some people.
Sure, it gets a little aggressive at times (“I won’t be ignored!”), but the lyrics still execute well conceptually.
Faint works so well for being a song that you can enjoy whether you listen to the words or not.
Numb is essentially a song about parents who desperately try to mold their children into perfect beings. At least, what the parents consider perfect…which unsurprisingly is closely aligned to who the parents are themselves.
Chester sings about the actual rebound effect that this style of parenting has. The suffocating pressure is actually causing him to deviate even further from what his parents want him to be.
However, there are multiple interpretations that people can adopt with this song. One of them is apparently Anime Music Videos (AMVs), since 1 in 3 that have existed in the history of the world are set to this song.
The official first song in Linkin Park’s discography.
And holy shit, did they come out swinging.
Papercut is a song about our dark side, and the frantic thoughts that circle our minds whenever it starts to surface.
Oddly enough, this song is still perhaps the best in LP’s history in terms of ambiance. Shinoda’s bars dart out a chaotic rate, emulating the fire drill of thoughts that occur when suppressing our shadow selves.
As someone who’s lived his life tormented by a voluminous amount of thoughts, Papercut has always had a special place in my heart.
So much so, that during my daydreams of having a movie about my life, the end credits would roll to Papercut.
My personal favorite song off the band’s debut album, Hybrid Theory. Apparently some old White people felt the same way, since it won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance in 2002.
But all humor aside, Crawling is a song that hit close to home for both fans and Chester himself. He even stated once that it was the hardest song for him to perform live, due to its content.
Crawling is about the vicious cycle of substance abuse, and how many use drugs or alcohol as a coping method for life’s problems, only to one day look at themselves in horror of what they’ve become.
This self-hatred manifests itself in “wounds”, which, due to the constant craving for substances, will never heal.
2. Somewhere I Belong
You probably don’t have to wonder too much about why this song struck a chord with me.
….or anyone else, for that matter.
Somewhere I Belong is the best example of why so many people love Linkin Park. It perfectly depicts the spiraling thoughts of inadequacy, isolation, and frustration that many people (like middle school me) deal with on a regular basis.
However, while there are plenty songs about being sad, Somewhere I Belong‘s bridge is a pivotal declaration of self-improvement:
“I will never know myself until I do this on my own,
And I will never feel anything else, until my wounds are healed,
I will never be anything till I break away from me,
I will break away, I’ll find myself today”
Imagine being in an emotional rut and hearing something like that. Now picture millions of other people doing the same, and realizing that they’re not alone.
That, is why people love this band.
1. Breaking The Habit
I had to take a moment before writing this one.
Given the event that prompted this post, I’m going to get a bit personal.
Many people have certain dimensions to them that they hate. In Chester’s case, it was his drug addiction, which actually led to him writing this song.
To others, it can be anything that has consistently caused pain in their lives. A personality trait, insecurity, or a lack of emotional control.
Often times, people hit rock bottom, leading them to look in the mirror and say “never again”.
You might have been able to guess this, but I struggle with liking myself. A lot.
There are certain aspects, wrinkles, and past actions about myself that I wish just didn’t exist. Things that have affected relationships in my life to an irreparable extent.
And often times, I’ve found myself alone, desperately promising myself that it would be the last time.
In several contexts, too. I’ve run my heart out to this song, I’ve silently cried to this song, and I’ve sat in contemplative silence in broad daylight to this song. All with the same conclusion: “I promise I’ll be better”.
Now you might think this is brave of me to write, so just imagine the bravery required from Chester to record an entire song about it.
It’s this kind of transparency that has caused so many people to love this band. They’ve been there before, and aren’t afraid to admit it.
I’ve been wanting to write about this song for years, and it breaks my heart that it’s under this condition. But I’ll be forever appreciative of Chester’s music, and how it helped so many people like myself deal with life’s challenges.