Howdy folks, today I want to discuss Linkin Park songs that don’t just sound amazing but have a quality or impact all their own. Songs that, I think, regardless of how well liked they are they still have a level of composition that stands above the rest. Of course this is all still opinion-based (and I’d love to hear yours!) and I’d like for you guys to keep in mind this is not just a ‘favorite LP song’ or something similar. I’m creating this topic to discuss certain songs in depth (also if at any point I happen to state something factually incorrect please correct me). I’m also going to keep this list short and also would like to mention that this list is in no particular order, so here we go!
1: Breaking The Habit
Hybrid Theory and Meteora can both be categorized as generally heavy albums lacking any really clean or acoustic songs. Breaking The Habit starts off with a bang and quickly evolves into a (relatively) soft, electronic, emotional rock ballad that is rather uncharacteristic of Linkin Park at the time. This song is deeply layered with many different electronic effects played behind the sounds of soothing strings and a very steady drum, featuring a distinct lack of heavy or even a distorted guitar. Chester’s vocal work is superb, perfectly providing a heavier balance to the instrumentation. The lack of any vocal work by Mike makes Chester have that much more of an impact. Once the song gets going and through the first verse it doesn’t slow down until the very end which, while not unusual, is composed very smoothly compared to most of their other work (where the bridge/breakdown/etc. would feature a change in rhythm before taking off again).
I personally find the history behind this song rather intriguing. The song itself is about substance abuse and Chester is known to have had a history with drug addiction so assuming that he wrote this song is not a bad assumption to make. However Mike started writing this song years before Meteora was released, and claims to have written it in response to another friend’s problems with drug addiction. I also seem to recall hearing that Chester had initially had trouble performing this song live because of how close to home the lyrics hit for him…
So I consider Breaking The Habit to be one of Linkin Park’s masterpieces due to its history and unusual sound (for its time).
Let me set this up real quick. A Thousand Suns is supposed to be an album that talks about nuclear holocaust and fear. Since its release I’ve often thought of the album (as a whole) to be a metaphor for a nuclear bombing. Everything up to this point in the album (aka the first half) is the preparations and setting up of the bomb. Everything after this point (aka the second half) is the resulting fallout (no pun intended) and aftermath of the explosion. This song then represents the actual dropping of the bomb and the explosion. Blackout is a two-part song and the way I’ve interpreted it goes like this: the intro and first two verses represent the release of the bomb and the building anticipation of the detonation, the bridge represents the dramatic explosion and fireball, and the second half represents the initial damage and turmoil slowly building into a panic as people realize what has just transpired. That alone makes this song at least worthy of some note in my books. Now let’s talk about the song itself…
Blackout is a heavily electronic-based song; unusual even for A Thousand Suns. Carefully woven layers of soothing synths provide a cool backdrop for something unique to this song: Chester rapping the first and second verse! His screams during the chorus however are a welcome familiarity. The chaotic and choppy bridge provide a nice transition from the angry and energetic first half of the song where it takes on a much more melodic, almost haunting, sound. Mike’s clean and soft vocals over an equally soft (but building in sound) synth melody provide a stark contrast to the first half of the song. The song ends with Mike and Chester harmonizing vocals for a single repeated line and without a substantial outro.
I consider Blackout one of LP’s masterpieces due to its very unique sound and for the metaphor I described above (and slightly because I’ve heard even haters of ATS consider Blackout a very cool song).
3: A Line In The Sand
I was NOT prepared for this song! When I first heard this song it was the day The Hunting Party was released and I was listening to the album it its entirety. By the time The Final Masquerade ends, I’m fairly well immersed in this new punk-oriented sound that THP has got going on. I also strongly believe that The Final Masquerade has a sound that is more fitting as a final track rather than…well anywhere else. So that song ends, and it feels like the album it over…but it’s not and I know it’s not. So the final track, A Line In The Sand, begins and immediately I notice the much softer tone this song has in the intro. Also worthy of note is the song’s length: 6:37. Longest song LP has written to date (Part Of Me doesn’t count because it’s technically two songs with a long break in between). Barely twenty seconds in and I already have no idea what to expect. The sounds of thunder make for very interesting ambiance as the soft instrumentation slowly builds. Then Mike begins to sing, and boy does it sound HAUNTING. Ominous sounding lyrics quickly fade into an explosion of drums and heavy guitar. These in turn fade into a verse characterized by Mike singing and steady drums, which in turn leads into Chester screaming the chorus behind a loud and in-your-face riff. This then leads into a verse featuring Mike’s rapping, and then the chorus again. The chorus ends with the main intro riff that breaks down into a heavy bridge, and then during the final chorus Brad takes off with a fast-paced and wild solo. The song then ends exactly how it began: Mike’s haunting intro lyrics are repeated here as Chester screams the final words of the chorus.
Now I’ve heard a lot of people complain that Chester sounds subdued by the guitar during the chorus, but I think that only adds to the song. The chorus sounds of desperation, and having Chester’s screams be layered beneath the guitars only adds to that effect. Does this song feature anything new or particularly unique? Not really, but it does feature a lot of power and emotion. It makes a statement, and the sonic rollercoaster that listeners are taken on (like with Blackout) is made all the more impressive if the album is listened to in its entirety. A Line In The Sand is more than just another rockin’ jam song like most other songs on THP, and that contrast with the album really makes it stand out for me.
I consider A Line In The Sand one of LP’s masterpieces because of…well I can’t really sum up what I’ve said above nicely so I’ll just let the two previous paragraphs speak for themselves.
That’s my list and I’m stickin’ to it (remember this is just an opinion). What about you guys? Do you agree, do you disagree? Do you believe other songs have similar impacts as these (please state why)? I’m eager to read about them!