Before Linkin Park, the most hardest rock music I listened to were a selection of songs by bands such as Nirvana (“Smells Like Teen Spirit”), Blur (“Song 2”), Helmet (“Unsung”), Korn (“Freak On A Leash”), Limp Bizkit (“Break Stuff”) and Papa Roach (“Last Resort”) – until I watched one strange video on MTV (when they actually showed music videos), a week before halloween in 2000 . The video featured monk-like men performing crazy martial arts moves, a singer with spiky bleached blond hair, behind him was this dude with spiky pink hair (crazy right?), a bad ass guitarist with headphones, a DJ (yes a DJ in a rock band!) and a drummer who showed no expression whatsoever. This was the music video for “One Step Closer” – the song featured a memorable bridge that I kept on repeating to my friends the following day – “SHUT UP WHEN I’M TALKING TO YOU!” and I didn’t care what they thought of me.
A quiet friend of mine was into the whole nu metal music scene, he copied Hybrid Theory onto a cassette for me and wrote down the lyrics on paper for me to sing the right lyrics – and yes I was singing the wrong lyrics before *shrugs*. Fast forward 2 months later, I saved up all my pocket money and decided to go to my local Virgin Megastore to buy the CD version of the album. As soon as I got home I listened to the album from start to finish twice – I was addicted, yep, but it was much more deeper than that. For me, personally, Hybrid Theory is without a doubt my favourite album – some of the lyrical themes on the record were so relatable at the time. You know being a teenager, you deal with so many things such as stress, mood swings, misunderstandings with your parents, falling out with friends and feeling isolated from time to time.
The opening track “Papercut” is about anxiety and paranoia, “One Step Closer” may be short but it’s main theme is stress and how when it’s too much some people’s only escape is to either retaliate aggressively or disappear. What makes Hybrid Theory so special is that the lyrics have several meanings, such as “With You”, it could be about ending a relationship or losing someone close to you.
“Points Of Authority” and “Crawling” are dark songs about lead vocalist Chester Bennington’s past experiences with being sexually abused and his past drug addiction to crystal meth and other hard drugs such as cocaine on the latter song. “Runaway” is about being fed up with society and wanting to escape – both “Crawling” and “Runaway” feature little rapping by co-vocalist/rhythm guitarist Mike Shinoda.
Add the almost melancholic lyrics over the distorted heavy guitars, aggressive drums, Joe Hahn’s scratches and some piano riffs, you have a well rounded nu metal, rap-rock album – in the past many thought Linkin Park were a manufactured pop group who were given guitars and told to do rock music as it was becoming popular. Those rumours were so vicious, the band proved the masses wrong as they continued to experiment with different sounds, genres and evolved as a band on newer albums.
And how can I forget the fan favourite “In The End”? – the triumphant single about wasting time on a failed relationship , which became their most successful single back then, and it helped the band sell more than 26 million copies of Hybrid Theory worldwide making it the best selling debut of the 21st century.