The 10 Best Linkin Park Songs You Probably Don’t Know
Today’s tragic passing of Chester Bennington still hasn’t quite set in for me. Once it does, I’m sure I’ll do a write up on how important Linkin Park was to me through my formative years. But right now, I feel like I have to get something out of my system to help get me to where I need to be, to process the greater emotions I haven’t gotten to yet.
LP has made some great music over their nearly 20-year career. From “One Step Closer” to “Waiting For The End” to “Heavy” they’ve excelled at what they do. Surprisingly, despite attempts across the industry, they’ve been nearly impossible to duplicate. Unlike most successful artists that try to stay in their own lane, most of LP’s missteps have come from true experimentation. While everyone knows their hits, many tracks have fallen through the cracks. With fans mourning around the world, let’s talk about Linkin Park’s lesser known gems and how Chester helped them shine.
“Part of Me” from the Hybrid Theory EP
Before they were Linkin Park they were called Hybrid Theory and under that name, they released a self-titled EP. On that EP, was “Part of Me” a track clearly influenced by mid-90’s grunge. It shows off Shinoda’s rapping, Bennington’s lower register, but most importantly it was the team’s first solid foray into a strong melodic space. There’s something special about that EP, and “Part of Me” is the real highlight.
“High Voltage” from Hybrid Theory (Bonus Track)
“High Voltage” is a much more Shinoda-heavy track, and ever since its release in 2000 I never understood why it wasn’t included on their diamond-selling debut album Hybrid Theory. Maybe because it was an altered hold-over from the previous EP, or maybe it just didn’t fit the “Rap-Rock” formula of the rest of the album. Who knows, but this is hands down one of my favorite LP songs.
“My December” from Hybrid Theory (Bonus Track)
Early LP wasn’t known for their ballads. Hell, the closest thing to one on their debut was “Crawling” and even it has big crunchy guitars. “My December” is a piano driven ballad that softens Chester’s voice to a point that it was clear he could really sing any kind of song given to him. It’s electronic beat dates it as it gets older, but in the context of the year 2000, it fits perfectly.
“By_Myslf” from Reanimation
After Hybrid Theory blew up, LP followed it up with a truly inspired “Remix” album called Reanimation. It took every track on their debut and completely revamped them. It included guest spots, re-recordings, and overall gave a bunch of songs a general facelift. “By_Myslf” doubles down on the ferocity of both Chester’s vocals and the song itself. It’s loud, fresh, and shows off the band’s “constantly evolving” motto, to a tee.
“Lying From You” from Meteora
If I remember correctly, “Lying From You” got play on rock radio despite not being an official single. Meteora saw Bennington expanding his talents in every direction. He hit higher notes, sustained screams longer, and somehow his voice got bigger. From start to finish, Meteora and especially “Lying From You” is LP 2.0. Chester upgraded, and the band followed suit.
“Figure.09” from Meteora
“Figure.09” is all about the build up. Thematically, the track is about becoming what you hate and living with the memories of your mistakes. Sonically, the payoff from that self-doubt and anguish is LP’s strongest bridge in any of their songs. Shinoda brings a lyrical fury while Chester pours a beautifully painful scowl over the climax like a fine gravy. Without considering their numerous hit songs, “Figure.09” could be the most “Linkin Park” song ever released.
“Leave Out All The Rest” from Minute to Midnight
Four years after Meteora, LP returned with Minutes to Midnight and it was obvious they were not ok with the status quo. You could hear them trying new sounds on both ends of the spectrum. “Leave Out All The Rest” was technically a single but it was so late in the cycle that it didn’t get much play. With Bennington’s passing, the ominous lyrics become even more haunting. “When my time comes, Forget the wrong that I’ve done, Help me leave behind some reasons to be missed, And don’t resent me, And when you’re feeling empty, Keep me in your memory, Leave out all the rest” A song that already frequently induced tears will now likely continue to do so for years to come.
“No More Sorrow” from Minute to Midnight
As one of the most straightforward metal songs in the LP library, “No More Sorrow” sounds like the kind of track Chester would write and record if he didn’t have the multifaceted Shinoda-glue behind him. It was a breath of fresh air on an album that felt far more disjointed than its predecessors. It’s the honest clean rock tropes of “No More Sorrow” that help keep Minutes to Midnight grounded, a luxury that its follow up, A Thousand Suns, did not have.
“I’ll Be Gone” from Living Things
By the time Living Things came out, LP was used to doing whatever they wanted. Their fifth studio album was surprisingly reserved and was probably hamstrung by its familiarity. However, “I’ll Be Gone” melodically stands out as one of LP’s strongest songs, especially in their later releases. Its themes touch on death, rebirth, abandonment, and loneliness making it stand as yet another song with a brand new meaning after today.
“Sorry For Now” from One More Light
From Chester’s last album, “Sorry For Now” succeeds in so many ways that previous LP songs failed. First off, it’s one of the only times Shinoda has sung (not rapped) and the song actually benefited from it. His singing sounds great, even through the key-change. On the flip-side, Chester kinda raps. I won’t say he has incredible flow or anything, but it works REALLY well. It reminds me of when Jason Mraz, Ed Sheeran or Danny O’Donoghue (The Script) raps. For a song that, at its core, is super sad, to end up with an adorable role-reversal, only goes to show that Linkin Park can get away with pretty much anything. One More Light may sound like a desperate grab at renewed Pop success, but “Sorry For Now” is one of the nuggets that proves out the goal of the whole album.
I can’t imagine the pain his family, bandmates, and friends are feeling right now. Like Chris Cornell before him, Bennington’s voice was one of the most distinctive and powerful of his or any generation. I will always cherish the things he left us and his mark on American Rock music, but knowing that the entire time he was creating his legacy, he was also battling demons that would eventually overtake him is probably sadder than the loss itself. RIP Chester, whatever death brings, I hope you’ve found peace.