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Linkin Park: 12 Essential Songs

Revisit Chester Bennington & Co.’s key tracks, from rap-metal smashes to daring pop departures

Linkin Park‘s music has long explored themes of alienation, inner demons and personal suffering, making the suicide of the band’s lead singer Chester Bennington an especially tragic and heavy loss. Bennington’s voice often sounded like the battle of dark and light, as he would shift suddenly from tender, subtle vulnerability to scorching, raspy screams. “Literally the most impressive talent I’ve seen live,” Rihanna wrote in an Instagram tribute to Bennington. “Vocal beast!” Here we revisit 12 key songs by the band that brought that voice to the world.

chester bennington linkin park mike shinoda essential songs

“The Catalyst” (2010)

“We wanted a track that represented where the album was going to be and how it was going to work, and this was really the track to do that,” bassist Dave “Phoenix” Farrell told MTV News of the band’s decision to release “The Catalyst” as the lead single from their 2010 LP, A Thousand Suns. “It’s a risk, but [it’s] worth it.” he said. The song represents a clean break with the band’s early-2000s sound, combining urgent synth-pop with an industrial edge reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails.

chester bennington linkin park mike shinoda essential songs

“Burn It Down” (2012)

“Burn It Down” opens in a haze, its whirring synths eventually coming together into a heavily processed keyboard line that recalls a gauze-swaddled inversion of the riff powering 2000’s “In the End.” The album it introduced, the Rick Rubin-produced Living Things, was, in some ways, a back-to-basics shift from the heady concepts and genre-melding sprawl of its 2010 predecessor A Thousand Suns. “In the past, we’ve consciously steered away from what we’d done before, but here, the energy is clearly similar to Hybrid Theory,” Bennington told Rolling Stone in 2012. But 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.

chester bennington linkin park mike shinoda essential songs

“Heavy” feat. Kiiara (2017)

“I remember Chester walked in and it was, ‘Hey, how are you doing today?'” Mike Shinoda told Billboard of the writing session that spawned this heartfelt, downtempo pop track from their latest album, One More Light. “And he’s like, ‘Oh, I’m fine,’ and we were hanging out for a minutes and he was like, ‘Y’know what? I have to be honest. I’m not fine. I’m not OK. Too much stuff is just happening to me. I just feel underwater.'” The song, on which Bennington shares lead-vocal with pop singer Kiiara, hit Number 50 on the Hot 100.

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