The shifting seasons of Linkin Park, as told through their iconic music videos
We take a look back through Linkin Park’s story via their video catalogue. From exploding onto the scene as nu-metal’s brightest-hopes, to revered mainstream-rock titans these are some of the band’s most memorable moments.
Warning: get ready for big riffs, bright colours and to shed a tear or two…
One Step Closer (2000)
A couple of trendy youngsters follow a mysterious stranger down a rain-dappled back alley and find something incredible brewing in the underground… Linkin Park weren’t exactly subtle about announcing their arrival, eh? Looking back, there is something a little kitsch about a brotherhood of face-painted monks practising their wire-fu in an abandoned Subway tunnel. From oversaturated nu-metal stylings to gravity-defying dance moves, to close-ups of Chester’s iconic flaming wrist tattoos, this was the clip that burned into a million Millennial minds and established an impossibly exciting new force on the rise…
In The End (2000)
If One Step Closer was the calling card of unstoppable upstarts, In The End was its tantalisingly grown-up flip side. Benchmarking a six-piece who’d metamorphosed from their days as Xero and Hybrid Theory into a thrillingly complete machine, this was an amazingly fine-tuned combination of rap-rock-muscle, raw-nerve emo and neoclassical experimentation. With the band throwing down amidst a storm of CGI, it’s a clip that could’ve aged incredibly poorly. Somehow, though, its message of weathering the storm and fostering a state of rejuvenation – exactly what LP were doing at a time when cutting-edge guitar music hadn’t topped the charts for the best part of a decade – has stirringly endured. Kudos, too, for championing flying whales years before Gojira got in on the act.
There’s an element of cringe in looking back at what could’ve been a discarded video-game cut-scene from any number of early-00s RTS titles. We shouldn’t be so fast to forget the innovation it stood for, though. An electro-charged remix of Hybrid Theory classic Points Of Authority (taken from the Reanimation LP), it showcased a group unafraid to take chances and break ground – melding genres with inimitable bombast, indulging their own inner-nerdiness and experimenting with what a music video could be in the pre-YouTube era. Hell, any self-respecting fan from that time before high-speed internet probably still has this tucked away somewhere on CD-Rom…
Coming off the Hybrid Theory cycle – one which had established LP as arguably the biggest band on the planet – the potential for ‘difficult second album syndrome’ seemed utterly perilous. As these 168 seconds of adrenalised brilliance illustrate, we needn’t have worried. Not to overlook the brilliance of Meteora’s lead single Somewhere I Belong, but the confidence to capture Faint’s unadulterated energy with the band largely in silhouette and without any computer-generated bells and whistles spoke volumes about an outfit already reaching iconic status and unafraid to emphasise it.
Numb / Encore (2004)
Back in the day, MTV’s ‘Mash-Up’ project was in the business of making fans’ dream collaborations come true. And in 2004, those dream pairings didn’t get any more titanic than matching the biggest rap-rock outfit in the world with the most-renowned rapper Jay‑Z. Hitting it off with Mike Shinoda, he agreed to expand what was initially a throwaway concept into the six-song Collision Course EP. Put together over the course of four frantic days, not every mash-up on there really snaps. But Numb/Encore’s perfect blend of supergroup cool confirmed that Linkin Park were now able to mix it up with the biggest of the big boys.
What I’ve Done (2007)
For better or worse, the streamlined edges of Minutes To Midnight – particularly lead single What I’ve Done – marked the arrival of Linkin Park mk. II. With the band dressed in stylish darks (Chester’s black mini-Mohawk and mirrored aviators were surely his ‘peak rock star’ moment) and decamped by helicopter to the sun bleached salt-flats this seemed a million miles from the neon-lit sewers at the start of their career. Highlighting a plethora of global issues – poverty, conservation, dictatorship, civil unrest – it also showcased a band tired of gazing inward and ready to use their vertiginous stature to highlight issues outside their personal sphere.
New Divide (2009)
Recorded as a standalone single as part of the soundtrack for Michael Bay’s blockbuster sequel Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen the thermal-imaging and film set performance here reassured that even as their sound continued to take quantum-leaps forward, these were still the geeks-done-good we’d come to know and love. It also marked a fresh entry into the list of songs more interesting than the movies they were written for…
The Catalyst (2010)
Marking Linkin Park’s first real departure from guitar-driven songwriting, their fourth album A Thousand Suns is probably also their most underrated. This uber-stylised clip – a flailing performance amidst clouds of tear-gas – hinted at the social conscience underpinning that record. Flinging clouds of colour through the suffocating mustard-beige, it also emphasised that positive creativity can be amongst the most powerful acts of defiance. Take that, everybody who accused them of ‘selling out’!
Castle Of Glass (2012)
‘Inspired by many true stories’ promises a monochrome title-card before Castle Of Glass unfurls its thick strain of tattered-flag heartbreak. The narrative of a family’s world being torn apart by the loss of their breadwinner to military duty, flickers with the sort of gung-ho jingoism a host of other bands would handle with far less subtlety. The pain bleeding through the songwriting here – and the video’s haunting promise that conflict and death run in self-perpetuating cycles – are the work of a band with so much more going on beneath that slick surface.
Final Masquerade (2014)
There’s a wilful pretentiousness to this cut from 2014’s The Hunting Party. Conjuring abstract images of birth and death; angels and demons; predators and prey it’s a fitting accompaniment to the indulgently ‘grown-up’ alt.rock that album was built around. Even by Chester’s impossibly high standards, the emotional investment here is on another level. And even as he gasps lyrics as darkly powerful as ‘The light on the horizon was brighter yesterday…’ we’re allowed a glimpse of optimism and the flickering promise of a better tomorrow.
Good Goodbye (2017)
In contrast, there’s a wonderful playfulness about the Good Goodbye video. From retro-synth intro (very Stranger Things) to VHS-alike filter to Mercedes race cars (a nod to their sponsorship of the AMG GT3) to exploding skeletons and video game imagery this is Linkin Park having a blast doing things on their own uncompromising terms. Drafting in U.S. rapper Pusha T and hotter-than-the-sun British grime star Stormzy and eschewing guitars in favour of bass-heavy EDM, this might’ve tested some fans’ patience even harder than before. Such is the price, however, of blasting boundaries.
One More Light (2017)
There’s a painful irony in how this collection of candid backstage footage and live performance stirs a thousand times more emotion than any high-budget production ever could. A reminder, not just of the enormous talent lost with Chester’s passing, but of the millions of lives he and his band brightened, it’s a line drawn under one era of the band but also a petition that we keep building upwards and looking forward. Thank you, Chester. And here’s to the future, whatever it may bring…
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