I can almost imagine the sound of readers clucking in disgust at the words “Linkin Park”. But wait! Hear me out.
My first exposure to Linkin Park was, funnily enough, through the TV channel Cartoon Network at the age of 12: they used to show cartoon music videos in the commercial breaks, some from their own in-house cartoons; or, in the case of Linkin Park, Pts.OF.Athrty from their album Reanimation. The video was a wondrous love-child of Star Wars (with its giant walking robots akin to those on ice planet Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back), The Matrix (with flying Sentinel-like robots), and Halo. The 12-year-old in me loved it!
That age, when we are tweenagers, is when children start making conscious choices about the music that we listen to. Linkin Park’s angsty, screaming lyrics in their first two album releases Hybrid Theory and Meteora appealed to the teenager-me immensely. Talking to friends, they often tell me they went through a similar phase of loving their music at that age. Meteora was undoubtedly the high point in the band’s discography, with all-time classics such as Faint and Numb that have an insanely addictive head-banging energy to them. Their next release, Minutes To Midnight, is perhaps when most people lost interest since they cranked out an album with “more of the same” vibe. Then, with A Thousand Suns and LIVING THINGS, Linkin Park has moved even further away from their core fan-base of nu-metal lovers.
To me, however, it is this very evolution in their style that endears them so much to me. Over the years, I fell in love with many great rock bands – Nine Inch Nails, The Dandy Warhols, Foo Fighters, Rage Against The Machine, Limp Bizkit, Muse, A Perfect Circle – to present day, when my music taste decidedly skews towards indie music. But in none of those cases did the bands start and grow along with me. Much like Harry Potter fans reminisce about how it was such a huge part of their life while growing up – and still is – I feel the same way about Linkin Park. And they do throw in food for thought in their later albums to show how they have grown à la the track The Radiance which makes a political statement by quoting Robert Oppenheimer’s opinion on the Trinity test (the first atom bomb explosion ever).
Part of the allure of the band for me is that I have a huge man-crush on Mike Shinoda. This primarily stems from the fact that he’s an accomplished graphic designer to boot and I have a keen interest in that field. Shinoda has designed most of the cover artwork for Linkin Park albums, as well as private artwork that he’s exhibited. One of the lesser-known gems of his career is a side project hip-hop band called Fort Minor, and if you haven’t heard them already I highly recommend you to check it out. (My favourite is Petrified.)
Linkin Park isn’t a “cool” choice: it’s mainstream, it’s not that path-breaking in the rock genre, it’s not a classic choice like The Beatles nor is it a quirky, lesser-known band with hipster cred. But it’s still my choice for an all-time favourite band.