Linkin Park are one of the biggest bands in the world. Releasing seven studio albums and selling over 70 million copies worldwide, few bands can demand the size of audiences that the nu metal-turned alt rockers play to on the regs.
Everyone has their favourite era of Linkin Park, and lot of attention is usually paid to the the Hybrid Theory/Meteora double-whammy at the start of their career – they even played Hybrid Theory in full at Download festival in 2014.
But what are the best Linkin Park songs of all time? To find out, we turned to science. By using a super-complicated spreadsheet pulling in data from Spotify, YouTube and Setlist.FM, we not only have the definitive list of songs fans are listening to around the world, but also the songs the band want to play.
We narrowed it down to 25, and it’s not as heavy on the older material as you might expect, with a lot of attention paid to the singles released post-2010.
So, without further ado, here are the best Linkin Park songs ever. No arguing, this is the list.
25) The Catalyst
Released in August 2010, The Catalyst was the first single from Linkin Park’s fourth studio album A Thousand Suns and reached number 40 in the UK singles charts. The song sees the band experiment with a more electronic-led sound, incorporating techno influences and favouring synthesisers over guitars.
“The Catalyst lets the band dip its toe into electronica in its first half, with rave-ready blips surrounding Chester Bennington’s dystopian cries,” Billboard’s Jason Lipshutz wrote at the time. “The Catalyst recalls Muse’s epic vocal chants as well as Green Day’s political commentary, but Linkin Park creates an original, if a bit awkward, transition from twisty techno to fist-pumping rock.”
Speaking to Artist Direct about The Catalyst’s new musical direction, Linkin Park’s bassist Dave Farrell said: “I don’t like genres when it comes to our music. I don’t function really well in that mindset. Early on, we felt like we may have gotten placed in a genre that we didn’t feel comfortable in. It’s nice to be at a point where hopefully the music is just Linkin Park.”
The song has been used numerous times in the world of gaming, from the end credits of Medal Of Honor, part of the Linkin Park DLC for Guitar Hero: Warriors Of Rock, and in the band’s own iOS game Linkin Park Revenge.
24) Lost In The Echo
The opening track to the Linkin Park’s 2012 album Living Things, it was the second single released from the band’s fifth album. Sonically, there’s a continuation of the electronica seen on previous album A Thousand Suns, but the dual vocal-play of Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda harks back to the earlier days of the band, packing a signature open-armed chorus.
“Lost In The Echo started with mostly electronic sounds,” Mike Shinoda told Huffington Post. I think that was one of those moments that defined what this album was going to be about.
“When the guys heard it, I kind of said to them, ‘What do you think about that?’ and their responses, for the first time in a few years, were pretty good. They were like, ‘Yeah, we hear the merit. Let’s develop that idea. Let’s see what we want to do.’ I said to them, “You know, this is like a real moment for us, now, on this album.”
The video for Lost In The Echo also saw Linkin Park embrace new technology, syncing with the viewer’s Facebook account to incorporate personal photos into the video. A new non-Facebook video was released afterwards.
Runaway is one of Linkin Park’s oldest songs. Appearing on debut album Hybrid Theory in 2000, a demo of the song titled Stick N Move was included on the band’s 1996 sampler before Chester joined the band and were known as Xero. It features different lyrics, but the building blocks for Runaway are there.
Rolling Stone’s David Fricke noted the “tumbling funk” of drummer Rob Bourdon, adding that “Bennington and Shinoda shoot and share rhymes like they’re joined at the lip, their bodies rocking in spasms of conviction.”
Runaway is one of the few songs on Hybrid Theory that’s led almost completely by Chester with little rapping from Mike Shinoda. Instead, the bounce has been replaced by the teen angst that was typical of the nu metal movement of the early noughties, with lyrics constantly referring to running away and escaping a negative situation.
22) Talking To Myself
2017’s Talking To Myself was released just hours before Chester Bennington was found dead by suicide. According to Billboard, “Talking To Myself was written by Bennington from his wife Talinda Bentley’s point of view as she watched him battle his personal demons.”
Musically it’s far far removed from the likes of Hybrid Theory and Meteora, abandoning any semblance of metal for a much more polished, poppier sound – the Guardian described the song as “a sleek Justin Bieber-style pop-R&B nugget” while Washington Post said it “sounds like the work of a ’90s boy band.”
All of the vocals are performed by Chester, and knowing the context of the song’s lyrics/release, it’s a powerful listen. With the release of the song coming the same day as Chester’s death, it was viewed over 10 million times on YouTube in the first 24 hours, with 102 million views at the time of writing.
21) Castle Of Glass
The final single to be released from 2012 album Living Things, and another song that has been included in the Medal Of Honor videogame franchise – this time on Medal Of Honor: Warfighter. The video for the song includes a mix of gameplay footage, CGI, a band performance and real-life footage of the military in action in action. Speaking to Machinima about the video, Mike Shinoda said the song tells a soldier’s story.
In Billboard’s track-by-track review of Living Things, they say Castle Of Glass “uses compelling songwriting, extended metaphors and a simple but radical (for Linkin Park) arrangement to offer one of the album’s most intriguing tracks.”
Sonically, it continues the less-heavy and more electronic direction Linkin Park were moving into during this period. It stands as more of a ballad, with no rapping, purely clean vocals, with Chester Bennington’s singing sounding much more subdued and less expansive than previous.
20) Don’t Stay
The first proper song on 2003’s Meteora (ignoring the 13-second Foreword intro). Following the runaway success of Hybrid Theory and subsequent remix album Reanimation, Meteora continues in the nu metal vein but dials down some of the teenage angst in favour of electronic experimentation and showcasing the vocal abilities of Chester Bennington.
That said, Don’t Stay is a definite continuation from the Hybrid Theory school of songwriting. Letting Joe Hahn run riot all over this with his DJ and programming magic wand, it feels at times more adult than the likes of One Step Closer and Crawling, like a band comfortable in their skin and with the balls to divert away from their money-making blueprint.
“We didn’t really care about what anybody else was doing. We also didn’t care whether or not the songs fit together stylistically as a whole or a collection of songs,” Chester Bennington told Artist Direct. “We were testing. We were students in college. We were in the lab, and we happened to stumble across something everybody liked and it worked. I think Meteora was an extension of that.”
The first single from Linkin Park’s 2017 One More Light, it split fans of the band down the middle in terms of its newer, poppier direction. It features singer-songwriter on Kiiara on vocals, who is a long-time fan of the band.
“One of the reasons why we chose Heavy as the first single is because it is really the core sound of the album,” said Mike Shinoda following the release of the official music video.
“This wasn’t a scenario where the whole album sounds one way and the single sounds different. This is how the album sounds. So we wanted to go out with a song like that, where everybody can get a sense of the direction of this body of work,” he continued.
The music wasn’t met with many positive reviews by critics, with many pointing out the similarities to Twenty One Pilots. Emmy Mack from Music Feeds described the song as “a dance-pop duet featuring Chester doing a really bad Twenty One Pilots impersonation.”
Heavy was the last Linkin Park song to be released during Chester Bennington’s lifetime.
18) One More Light
The title track to Linkin Park’s 2017 album and at the time of writing, the final track the band have released. It’s the second single to be released following the death of Chester Bennington, and the band pay tribute to their friend and bandmate in the official video, produced by DJ/programmer Joe Hahn.
“It has been incredibly emotional to work on this, and especially to watch it. I feel that by doing it, we not only faced some of our biggest fears, but it enabled us to use our talents to bring some light to people who need it,” he said following the video’s release.
“I think about the people who connect with the band, outside and inside our circle. This video is a gesture of good will to the people who want that connection.”
In an interview with Kerrang!, Mike Shinoda said that the song was written about a friend of the band who had tragically died of cancer.
“We had a friend who worked for the record label for a long time and came up with us from years and years ago. She started out in radio promo and was basically driving us to the local radio stations in the U.S. Midwest, eventually getting promoted and promoted. At some point last year, I suddenly heard that she’d got cancer – and then all of a sudden she had died,” he said.
“We knew we absolutely had to write about what happened. It’s a sad song, but the pay-off is that when something dramatic and painful like that happens, the most important thing to do is to connect with the people you love and remind them you care about them.”
17) With You
The first song from Hybrid Theory to appear on this list, but by no means the last. The band’s 2000 debut album has sold over 30 million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling rock album of the 21st century.
Writing in Metal Hammer’s Nu Metal special, Tomas Doyle described Linkin Park’s debut as “An absolute dreadnought of a record, to call Hybrid Theory a phenomenon would be to almost undersell it.”
Why? Because of its emo-tinged, angsty nu-metal anthems like With You. Slotted between rock club floor-filler One Step Closer and Points Of Authority, With You keeps the emotional momentum of Hybrid Theory turned up to 11.
Its bubbling, whirring and juttering electronics dance through the unmistakable distorted chug LP’s nu metal guitars. With You combines all the musical elements of Hybrid Theory into one package, then backs it all up with a classic Chester Bennington chorus –“Even if you’re not with me, I’m with you” – designed to be scrawled across school notebooks.
16) Points Of Authority
The fourth single to be taken from the gargantuan Hybrid Theory, and one that perhaps the most ‘nu’ of the nu metal. Opening on a flurry of rapping and scratching, you know Linkin Park are not your stereotypical metal band, and they’re not here to play by your games.
In Metal Hammer’s Nu Metal Special, Points Of Authority was named as the sixth best nu metal song of all time, with Stephen Hill writing “Nu metal’s biggest-selling band proved they had the balls to go with their platinum discs by smashing out this big-riffing banger. Their heaviest tune, without doubt.”
In an interview with Rolling Stone, drummer Rob Bourdon reveals how Mike Shinoda was the mastermind behind Points Of Authority’s guitars, rewriting and rearranging Brad Delson’s original riff so much that “Brad had to learn his own part from the computer.”
Despite being the fourth single from a squillion-selling album, Points Of Authority still made it to #9 in the UK singles charts.
15) Burn It Down
The lead single from Linkin Park’s 2012 album Living Things, released three months before the album. The song was included in Rolling Stone’s list of the 12 Essential Linkin Park Songs, saying that it recalls “a gauze-swaddled inversion of the riff powering 2000’s In The End.”
“The subtler textures and Bennington’s passionate, yet minutely calibrated vocal on Burn It Down were a signal of how much the band had grown as musicians since they crash-landed into rock’s mainstream nearly 12 years earlier,” it continues.
Lyrically the song deals with the idea of celebrity and pop culture, and how fleeting the public’s affinity to those in the spotlight can be.
“People build up a certain celebrity or musician or actor or whatever and they’re popular one minute and the next thing, you know either they’ve done something wrong or they’ve done nothing wrong and there’s just a bad rumor that goes around about them and then everybody’s attacking that person,” Mike Shinoda told Huffington Post. “That’s just the way things are. We’ve actually lived through that as a band. All that stuff plays a role.”
14) Lying From You
Taken from Linkin Park’s sophomore album Meteora, Lying From You takes the upbeat nu metal bounce of Hybrid Theory and stamps an industrial-tinged groove all over it. From the crunching guitars to Mike Shinoda’s rapping darting in and out of Chester’s pained screams, it’s textbook Linkin Park, and one of their more darker offerings. It’s murky and pointed directly at the disaffected youth who had become their army, bellowing “this isn’t what I wanted to be”.
Speaking to Metal Hammer about their 10 favourite Linkin Park songs, the Floridian metalcore mob said of Lying From You: “We have all had some pretty rough times in relationships in this band, and this track was one that emphasised some of those for all of us. This song’s aggression helped all of us push away some of those darker instances in our lives.”
13) Given Up
Definitely the heaviest song on Linkin Park’s third album Minutes To Midnight, and it features is swear word! Yup, Chester Bennington drops the F-bomb pretty early on into Given Up – not the squeaky clean spiky-haired singer we previously knew. But that’s not the only thing to note here, Chester also manages to deliver a throat-searing 18 second scream!
Compared to the majority of Minutes To Midnight, this is the most frantic track on the record, with a punked-up percussion and turbo-charged instrumentation like it’s a race to the finish.
“Woah! He said ‘Fuck!’ That was most people’s first reaction upon hearing the heaviest track on the Minutes To Midnight album, with the LA band abandoned their long-standing ‘no swearing’ policy to let Chester B have a good old rant in the chorus,” wrote Paul Brannigan for TeamRock’s Top 10 Best Linkin Park Songs.
“Cleverly introduced by hand claps, pretty much guaranteeing the song’s status as a future live favourite, Given Up is a pure rager, with Bennington turning in a truly fantastic vocal performance.”
12) New Divide
Not released on a proper album, New Divide was written for the soundtrack of the 2009 Transformers movie Revenge Of The Fallen, following on from What I’ve Done being included in the first Transformers film.
“This song could definitely fit on any of our albums. It’s got a classic Linkin Park feel to it,” Chester Bennington told MTV. “And that’s because we treated it as if we were going to put it on one of our records and release it as the first single off that record. We knew the movie was going to be epic, so we wanted to make an epic-sounding song.”
TeamRock described the song as the best thing about the movie. “It’s a textbook, precision-tooled Linkin Park track, to the point of parody, but that chorus is undeniable.”
11) From The Inside
The fourth single from Meteora, released nine months after the album, is a song of two halves – equal parts soft and hard. Chester’s airy, clean vocals flutter through the speakers while Mike Shinoda’s downtrodden rapping underpins the track, adding a serious mood to the music. Eventually the song cascades into something much more aggressive, with the stabbing instrumentation and Chester screaming “I won’t waste myself on you.”
From The Inside was named #2 in the Telegraph’s list of the 10 best Linkin Park songs.
“It’s lyrically less confrontational than some of the most anguished material, and instead has Bennington lamenting the difficulty of breaking away from a toxic influence,” says the Telegraph’s The De Gallier. “The chorus crashes into the song and reinforces its theme of determination from despair, and Brad Delson’s signature stabs of distorted guitar capture the essence of the band’s sound.”
10) Bleed It Out
Taken from 2007’s Minutes To Midnight album, Bleed It Out showcases a much more grow-up band than previously seen on Meteora and Hybrid Theory. Embracing a much more rock ‘n’ roll feel, Bleed It Out is one of only two tracks on the album to include Mike Shinoda’s rapping, and even Chester’s screams seem subdued, restricted to an infectious chorus hook.
Even the video feels like we’re watching a different band. Gone are the flame-haired nu metallers from the turn of the century, now we’re watching well-groomed men in smart-casual outfits perform at what looks like quite a fancy party (although a fight has broken out).
Rolling Stone described Minutes To Midnight as summing up the band’s “utter disregard for stylistic boundaries, alternating rap-like verses from Mike Shinoda with Chester Bennington’s fist-pumping melodic-rock refrains.”
Speaking to Kerrang! at the time, Mike Shinoda said of the song coming together, “I said to the band, ‘I don’t think anyone but us could have made a song like this.’ It’s a fucking bizarre death-party-rap-hoedown!‘”
9) Somewhere I Belong
A tale of feeling lost alone, wanting to let go on the pain in the past and move on to somewhere better, something the Telegraph describes as “a rare hopeful message”.
Speaking about the lyrical content of Meteora, Mike Shinoda told MusicOMH that he and Chester write together. “We both have different life experiences. So when we’re writing a song, each of us will be thinking about something different. But we always have a conversation about what we’re going to write before we get too far into it.”
Making it to #3 in the Telegraph’s list of best Linkin Park songs, they say of Somewhere I Belong: “The poetic rhythm of the verses and interplay between Bennington and Shinoda demonstrates the band’s ability to write songs that immediately embed themselves in the mind by way of repeated lyrical patterns and skilful simplicity.
“It’s a poignant reminder now of his lifelong battle, and a glimpse into the effort he made to fight the demons that plagued him.”
Somewhere I Belong was the first single to be released from Meteora and made it to number ten in the UK Singles Chart.
8) One Step Closer
The quintessential Linkin Park song. One Step Closer was the world’s first taste of the band, being released one month before debut album Hybrid Theory.
Riddled with frustration and inner-turmoil, the iconic chorus line came from an altercation between Chester Bennington and producer Don Gilmore about the song’s direction.
“I just wanted to punch that dude in the face,” Chester told Metal Hammer. “I was so pissed – nothing I did was good enough for him. I thought, ‘Man, everything you say to me takes me one step closer to the edge… and I’m about to break.’ And then I thought, ‘Wait, that might actually work!’
One Step Closer was also named as the best Linkin Park song by TeamRock.
“There’s an old truism that states that you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and what an introduction this was,” said TeamRock. “Nu-metal was already firmly established as rock’s dominant trend when the first single from Hybrid Theory was released, but instantly Linkin Park here cockily announced that they were out to take over the world.”
7) Breaking The Habit
What was originally an instrumental track conceived by Mike Shinoda, the version we know today was the fifth and final single from the 20+ million selling Meteora, and made it to #20 in the Billboard chart.
“It pushed the boundaries of so many different genres. It’s not a typical rock song and includes a lot more production,” Phantoms told Metal Hammer in their list of best Linkin Park songs.
Speaking to MusicOMH, Mike Shinoda said that Breaking The Habit was faster than any songs the band had previously written.
“It’s very therapeutic,” he said about the song’s lyrics, “I had this theme in my head that I wanted to write about, and I kept trying it, and it would always be too dorky or too cheesy. And somehow, when I sat down with this particular music, what I had been trying to write about for five years came out in two hours – just fell out on the page.”
Chester Bennington once identified Breaking The Habit as his favourite Linkin Park song, admitting that when he first read the lyrics he felt that Shinoda was “singing my life.”
6) What I’ve Done
The first single from Linkin Park’s third album Minutes To Midnight, and the first to be produced by the legendary Rick Rubin, who guided them away from their nu metal roots.
Speaking to MTV about the song, Chester Bennington says that the song is the band “saying goodbye to how we used to be”.
“The lyrics in the first verse are ‘In this farewell, there is no blood, there is no alibi,’ and right away, you’ll notice that the band sounds different: The drums are much more raw, the guitars are more raw and the vocals aren’t tripled. It’s just us out there … and that’s how Rick wanted it. Basically he told us, ‘If it sounds like it could’ve been on the first two records, then we’re not going to work on it.‘”
“What I’ve Done summed up the band’s new approach, shifting the focus to Bennington’s vocals rather than the interplay between his soaring voice and Mike Shinoda’s rhymes,” said Rolling Stone. “Moving from vulnerability to desperation, the singer explores regret above an ominous, hypnotic piano riff.”
The change in sound didn’t affect the band’s popularity one bit. What I’ve Done has been certified platinum in the United States, selling over 5 million copies.
The second single to be lifted from Meteora, Faint was released on June 9, 2003, and became their third number-one hit on the US Modern Rock chart. One of their most high-tempo tracks, the song layers a string section (featuring a real life orchestra) over a pacey beat washed in electronics and warm riffs.
Drownedinsound said of the song that it proves Linkin Park “know all the knobs and levers to pull, know when to go slow, and when to put their foot down,”while the BBC described it as the first song on the album “to really break sweat and get your head shaking.”
The video, now at over 190 million views on YouTube, shows the band backlit in front of an ecstatic crowd, and was directed by Mark Romanek. Chester Bennington said in an interview with O Globo in 2012 that Faint is one of the Linkin Park songs “that we can not stop playing,” with the track listed as the band’s most-played live outside of Hybrid Theory material.
The song that introduced Linkin Park to the world, Papercut is the opening track from Hybrid Theory and was described in 2013 by Chester Bennington as his very favourite Linkin Park song.
“When we got to that song, the chorus was so dope and the words behind it were so cool, that I didn’t need to do much melodically until we flipped it up at the end,” he noted. “That was a lot of fun.”
Brad Delson backed this claim right back in 2000, noting: “I think it best integrates all our influences into one song and does it in a way that’s tasteful and cohesive. In other words, one criticism that people have leveled at existing bands is that their songs don’t always sound organic, that some of the songs might sound forced.”
The second single to be released from Hybrid Theory, Crawling won Linkin Park a Grammy in 2002 in the Best Hard Rock Performance category. Rolling Stone describe the anthem as “claustrophobic” and “burbling”, listing it as one of Linkin Park’s most essential songs.
Speaking to Spin about the song in 2009, Chester says the song “is about feeling like I had no control over myself in terms of drugs and alcohol. That feeling, being able to write about it, sing about it, that song, those words sold millions of records, I won a Grammy, I made a lot of money.”
Live, Crawling has featured guest appearances from the likes of Aaron Lewis, Chris Cornell and Fred Durst. The video, starring model Katelyn Rosaasen, centred on a young girl seemingly suffering abuse, and was filmed in Los Angeles. Katelyn, who had also appeared in videos by The Offspring and N*Sync amongst others, claimed it was her favourite starring role in any music video.
The video, which stars the band performing in a spooky house, has notched up over 100 million views on YouTube, and the track itself has currently claimed a cool 89 million streams on Spotify.
The final track from Meteora was released as Linkin Park’s third single on September 8, 2003, peaking at number 11 on the Billboard 100. Musically, the song is a typically polished mix of scattershot scratching, samples and soft guitars, all giving away to an impassioned vocal line from Chester. Its video, filmed by band DJ Joe Hahn, was filmed in LA and Prague, and depicts the story of a young girl who has become an outcast at school and is shunned by her classmates.
Arguably, the song’s most definitive version comes in the form of the Numb/Encore mash-up featured on Linkin Park’s collaboration with Jay Z, Collision Course, which was released on November 30, 2004. RapReviews labelled Numb/Encore as “the best of the mash-ups” on the EP, and since release the remixed version of the track has gone triple-platinum in the US alone.
That said, the song still holds up beautifully in an ‘unplugged’ format. In 2016, someone posted Chester’s a capella vocals for Numb, sounding even more powerful than the original song, unaffected by the super-polished studio nu metal.
“In the earliest years of this century, there were plenty who questioned Linkin Park’s staying power,” said TeamRock, “and insisted the LA band would disappear after the ‘fluke’ success of Hybrid Theory: Numb dispelled all that talk in just a blush over three minutes.”
1) In The End
Chester Bennington originally wasn’t keen to include In The End on Hybrid Theory. In 2012, he told V music: “I didn’t even want it to be on the record, honestly. How wrong could I have possibly been?”
Eschewing most of the album’s tropes with a slower pace and a piano-driven intro though still featuring the kind of power chorus that became the band’s biggest asset, TeamRock describes In The End as “another stunning showcase for Chester, who absolutely slays the chorus and rips his heart out of chest on the song’s middle eight.
“Kept from topping the US Billboard chart by a frankly rubbish J. Lo/Ja Rule collaboration, In The End has sold over 2.5 million copies on its own in the States alone: tidy.”
Upon release, it topped the US Billboard Chart and hit the top ten in over ten countries worldwide. Despite being released years before YouTube arrived, the video, set in a fantasy world and featuring, amongst other things, flying whales, has now racked up over half a billion views on the channel. The song remains both their most played across all their live shows, and their most streamed, with over 360 million listens and counting on Spotify.