Linkin Park with Chester Bennington in shades

The First Reaction To Linkin Park’s New Track, She Couldn’t

Linkin Park have released a previously unreleased demo from their 1999 sessions titled She Couldn’t – but is it any good?

Alongside the 20th anniversary anniversary edition of Hybrid Theory, which Linkin Park revealed earlier today, the band have also unveiled the 1999 demo of their track She Couldn’t for the very first time. But has it been worth the wait and how does it stack up against some of those gargantuan anthems it was written alongside? K!‘s Nick Ruskell takes a look…

It’s very Hybrid Theory, isn’t it? Well, obviously, given that She Couldn’t is a song taken from the recording sessions from that album. But despite its softness and lack of the heavy guitars of One Step Closer or Crawling, despite its length and willingness to run at its own pace, rather than the no-second-wasted efficiency of the rest of that album, you could slot this anywhere in the album’s second half and it wouldn’t jar. It may be the one that got away, but it doesn’t sound like something that didn’t work, or of a band still finding its feet. By this point – basically the start of the story – Linkin Park already knew damned well who they were.

As with Grey Daze, it’s wonderful to be gifted unheard Chester Bennington music, and here he’s at that youthful, hungry stage where his massive voice collided with unstoppable ambition to create an energy that only the rarest of singers can. It’s his performance that gives the song with its beats and looped melodies its human voice. And speaking of those elements, Linkin Park were by no means the first to use them, but here, as on Hybrid Theory, you hear them being the first band of their wave to truly master them.

If She Couldn’t tells us anything, it’s that in that time, Linkin Park were so creatively fecund and focussed that they could make anything fit within their world, even at a stage before they’d sold a single record. It’s a reminder that, when they exploded, suddenly and enormously, it was because their music already had personality and identity, expertly crafted until it was exactly how its creators wanted it. And as She Couldn’t amply demonstrates, while Hybrid Theory is nu-metal perfectly formed and distilled, it also had its fingers reaching out into so many other sounds, not just as embellishment, but strong roots that fed nourishingly into the Linkin Park machine. 

So, yeah, it’s a ballady one with no heaviness and loads of electro. But in the end, the result remains brilliantly in line with the spirit that made Hybrid Theory so special, why it propelled Linkin Park into the rarefied atmosphere so quickly. Even if only now it’s officially become part of the story. For fans, it’s impossible to hear Hybrid Theory for the first time again, but what She Couldn’t gives us is a reminder of something close to that feeling. 

READ THIS: The 20 greatest Linkin Park songs – ranked

Posted on August 13th 2020, 3:52p.m.
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