The band's frontman died in an apparent suicide
Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington has died at age 41, his longtime bandmate Mike Shinoda confirmed Thursday. His death came just a few months after the release of the rap-rock group’s seventh album, One More Light.
In the wake of Bennington’s death, look back at some of the songs that made Linkin Park (and Bennington’s unique blend of scream-singing) iconic for so many.
The lead track off Linkin Park’s debut album Hybrid Theory certainly kicks things off to an explosive start. It was also one of Bennington’s personal favorite Linkin Park songs — he once said the paranoid anthem “captures exactly what our band is about.”
“One Step Closer”
The beauty of Linkin Park’s music, and Bennington’s vocals in particular, is that they always seemed like they were about to fall apart. As Chris Willman wrote in EW’s review of the band’s 2007 album Minutes to Midnight, Bennington “has a rare gift for screaming and hitting recognizable notes at the same time.” Yet the thrill came from the feeling that at any point the scream could finally burst out of control. This song places that subtext at the forefront, a dramatization of feeling just one step away from the edge.
“In the End”
Perhaps Linkin Park’s most recognizable anthem, “In the End” perfectly blends Bennington’s anguished vocals with Shinoda’s rapid-fire rapping. The two vocalists pass the baton back and forth as they tell a pitch-perfect story of finally coming to the end of a toxic relationship.
“Somewhere I Belong”
Linkin Park was great at giving voice to the anguish that so many people, especially young people, suffer through on a daily basis. Sometimes they gave voice to that feeling in explosive screaming and in-your-face raps. Other times, like on this cut from 2003’s Meteora, the desperate search for belonging took on a quieter tone.
“Breaking the Habit”
Another of Bennington’s personal favorites, “Breaking the Habit” is about finally breaking free of a drug addiction. Though Shinoda wrote the lyrics, they resonated so deeply with Bennington’s own experiences that he found it difficult to perform even in the studio.
One of the more emblematic cultural artifacts of the mid-2000s was Collision Course, the 2004 mash-up album between JAY-Z and Linkin Park. Mashing up JAY-Z was all the rage in those days (the project was inspired by Danger Mouse’s JAY-Z/Beatles combo, The Grey Album), but Bennington’s vocals provided a particularly resonant backdrop for the rapper.
“Shadow of the Day”
Linkin Park had a long career spanning almost two decades. One result of that prolific span is that they lived through the rise and fall of various trends. By the time of their 2007 album Minutes to Midnight, the rap-rock genre they had originally thrived in had started to go out of style. So they changed directions somewhat and shifted more of the vocals to Bennington, who produced heartfelt ballads like this song, about coming to terms with a friend’s death.
“Bleed It Out”
Just because the band moved away from rap-rock on Minutes to Midnight doesn’t mean they abandoned it entirely. This track, for instance, is one of the most energetic songs tracks in their entire catalog, as Bennington and Shinoda once again seamlessly united. Like so many Linkin Park songs, it’s a vessel for the rage that emanates from having an itch you just can’t scratch no matter what you do.
“When They Come For Me”
Though Shinoda dominates most of this track about remaining independent in the face of changing trends and tastes, Bennington provides a memorable outro, screaming in Spanish a desperate plea: “Listen to me/ Pay attention/ Listen to me now/ Listen to me now/ Listen to me all/ Listen to me right now.”
“Waiting for the End”
Linkin Park really tried expanding their sound on their 2010 effort, A Thousand Suns. This single is emblematic of the new direction, with Bennington and Shinoda almost switching roles: Shinoda performs some of the song’s verses with a reggae-esque delivery, while Bennington sings hopefully of escaping past mistakes and finally embracing a new beginning.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).