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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab). “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 (opens in new tab). “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 (opens in new tab).
“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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab). “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.