Last month, I read a news headline that truly hit my heart:
Chester Bennington of Linkin Park had died.
Sadly, on July 20, 2017, he decided to take his life, leaving behind his wife and six children, family & friends, bandmates and a worldwide fandom who’ll sorely miss him.
Today’s post will be rather poignant but I want to pay tribute to Chester Bennington and his huge talents. He was an incredible artist, both a singer & performer, with strong vocals, wide range, raw tone and formed one hell of a discography with his bandmates. I remember being 10 years old and discovering ‘One Step Closer‘ (2000) – I was transcended into the LP fandom. Their sound was something I had not yet discovered, but my gosh did I love it! Their debut album, Hybrid Theory (2000), was perhaps one of the most iconic moments in the rock music scene. In the later half of the Millennium, Linkin Park gave us a mix of rap, hip hop, metal and hard rock. And it was genius. They rolled out single after single, and album after album over the next two decades with a few years’ break in between each LP. And I genuinely love every album they released, I played them on repeat and I still listen to their music today, on CD and online. He was such an attractive and stylish individual who helped change the minds of many when it came to rock music. I’m sad I never was able to see Linkin Park live in concert, and never witnessed the contagious & powerful energy Chester brought to his performances.
There are specific moments when Chester Bennington and his bandmates showcased their unique talents. One was the collaborative album Collision Course (2004) they made with the King of Rap, Jay Z. This brought their music to another huge audience, and they garnered even more popularity in the music industry. The album was also performed live with Jay Z, and it was epic to watch. Their third and fourth albums broke norm from the sound they originated with; it was more experimental, more instrumental, and criticised as more mainstream. But to me, Minutes to Midnight (2007) and A Thousand Suns (2010) were magical. They brought me to another place, and Chester’s vocals were really showed off in different ways, notably on ‘The Messenger‘. His skills were often criticised too, people said that “he can only scream the lyrics”. To shut those critics up, during the iTunes Festival in 2011, Linkin Park performed an Adele cover, and Chester absolutely NAILED it – best cover of ‘Rolling In The Deep’ ever (below).
As someone who had depression as a teenager, I found solace in music, strength in lyrics, and Linkin Park were one of the three bands whose music really brought me back up from the lows. Being able to relate to the songs we listen to is a powerful thing, and knowing now that Chester also suffered from such pains really showcased the reality within those lyrics, and made his vocals and messages more poignant but also more relatable. Linkin Park released their latest album One More Light (2017) on May 19, this would be their last album recorded and completed with Chester on co-lead vocals. The sadness of the album’s release, was that it was the day after Chris Cornell committed suicide, who was a very close friend of Chester’s. The aftermath of this really resonated with the singer, so much so that he was unable to finish performances of the song ‘One More Light’, but gave an emotionally stirring rendition of ‘Hallelujah’ at Chris Cornell’s funeral. I’ve lost many people in my 27 years; my Mam, all of my grandparents, grand aunts & uncles, cousins, friends and a boyfriend. That’s a lot of funerals to attend, and it is a lot of emotions to hold. The best way to deal with depression and suicidal thoughts though, is to talk about it. Express yourself, seek help or advice from those around you, because nobody wants to see you go. It may seem like no one is there, that no one will understand but there are people who do, who listen and who want to help. Be it suicide, alcohol, drugs, depression or another demon that’s latched on to you, you can gain the power to come out of it. Unfortunately for Chester, dealing with his demons and losing his friend though, seemed too much to hold on.
The new album features songs and stories of dealing with hardships, deep and dark emotions, losing someone close and essentially depression. When the first single ‘Heavy‘ (feat. Kiiara) was released in March, it divided many people. But to me, it spoke so clearly. I knew what the lyrics, the message, what the vocals were talking about and I related, but furthermore; I appreciated it. The accompanying music video confirmed this even more, and I’ll admit it made me emotional just watching it. The style of the track from the new album was of course different to Linkin Park’s previous, but that’s what I wanted, and it’s clearly what the band wanted, as Mike Shinoda explained to Billboard; “We’ve focused almost exclusively on songwriting, not on sound, not on genre, not on arrangement, on words and melodies.” This is the kind of statement you want to hear from your favourite band upon the release of new music. The aforementioned song ‘One More Light‘ deals with the loss of someone close but showing you care about those around you too, which Mike revealed to Kerrang! Magazine that it was written after the band’s friend died of cancer, “when something dramatic and painful like that happens, the most important thing to do is to connect with the people you love and remind them you care about them.” The band first paid tribute to their friend, then to Chris Cornell, and now to Chester. It really is a beautiful song with an emotional message within.
Chester Bennington died of suicide by hanging on July 20, 2017. This would have been his friend Chris Cornell’s 53rd birthday, and whether or not Chester chose this date to leave us, we’ll not know. Below are my favourite tracks by Linkin Park, chronologically chosen from their 20+ years of making music. (Admittedly, it’s a very long list!)
Chester, thank you for giving me music I will never forget, and that I will always enjoy. We wish you did “hold on”.
IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS DOWN IN THE DUMPS, DEPRESSED OR DISTANT – TALK TO THEM, AND LET THEM KNOW IT’S OK TO TALK ABOUT IT.
DEPRESSION IS NOT SOMETHING TO IGNORE. Let’s stop Suicide being the answer. MENTAL HEALTH IS IMPORTANT TO EXPRESS AND SUPPORT. Reach out.
Cookie FM: Remembering Chester Bennington
Hybrid Theory (2000)
Papercut / Listen via YouTube
One Step Closer / Listen via YouTube
Crawling / Listen via YouTube
In The End / Listen via YouTube
A Place For My Head / Listen via YouTube
Pushing Me Away / Listen via YouTube
Somewhere I Belong / Listen via YouTube
Easier to Run / Listen via YouTube
Faint / Listen via YouTube
Breaking the Habit / Listen via YouTube
From the Inside / Listen via YouTube
Nobody’s Listening / Listen via YouTube
Numb / Listen via YouTube
Minutes to Midnight (2007)
Leave Out All The Rest / Listen via YouTube
Bleed It Out / Listen via YouTube
Shadow of the Day / Listen via YouTube
What I’ve Done / Listen via YouTube
Hands Held High / Listen via YouTube
Valentine’s Day / Listen via YouTube
In Pieces / Listen via YouTube
The Little Things Give You Away / Listen via YouTube
A Thousand Suns (2010)
Burning In The Skies / Listen via YouTube
When They Come For Me / Listen via YouTube
Robot Boy / Listen via YouTube
Waiting For The End / Listen via YouTube
Wretches And Kings / Listen via YouTube
Iridescent / Listen via YouTube
The Catalyst / Listen via YouTube
The Messenger / Listen via YouTube
Living Things (2012)
Lost In The Echo / Listen via YouTube
In My Remains / Listen via YouTube
Burn It Down / Listen via YouTube
Castle Of Glass / Listen via YouTube
Roads Untraveled / Listen via YouTube
Powerless / Listen via YouTube
The Hunting Party (2015)
Guilty All The Same (feat. Rakim) / Listen via YouTube
Until It’s Gone / Listen via YouTube
Final Masquerade / Listen via YouTube
One More Light (2017)
Nobody Can Save Me / Listen via YouTube
Good Goodbye (feat. Pusha T and Stormzy) / Listen via YouTube
Battle Symphony / Listen via YouTube
Heavy (feat. Kiiara) / Listen via YouTube
One More Light / Listen via YouTube
Sharp Edges / Listen via YouTube
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