Tuesday, 1 December 2009

32: Linkin Park - In The End

I'm not sure these things are tracked on a global scale, but if they are, then Linkin Park's 'Hybrid Theory' must be one of the world's biggest selling albums of this decade. It sold 24 million copies globally, and became one of only 8 albums released this decade to be awarded an RIAA Diamond Disc (for 10 million sales in the US). It went quadruple platinum in the UK and spawned four massive hit singles, of which 'In The End' was the last, and comfortably the most successful. It hit #2 in the Billboard charts (they've never had a US or UK #1 single), and was kept off the top by a forgettable J-Lo/Ja Rule duet. Linkin Park can easily lay claim to being the biggest selling band of the Noughties. Hell, they even get asked to do the theme tunes for the Transformers blockbuster films.

What makes this all the more impressive is that they are associated with a genre that was widely ridiculed (nu-metal) - indeed NME described 'In The End' as being "another slab of gormless MTV rap-rock from the bottom of the food chain". But ignore the critics and perhaps Linkin Park timed it just right. Along with peers including Limp Bizkit, System Of A Down and Korn, these American bands stepped into the gaping void left by Kurt Cobain's suicide and the resulting death of grunge. This was pre-9/11, but American teenagers were nevertheless angry, and nu-metal allowed them to headbang, and vent their frustrations.

The distinctive piano intro, the rapped verses (with Mike Shinoda rapping in between Chester Bennington's singing), and then the more traditional stadium rock chorus were melded together by Don Gilmore, a virtually unknown producer. He deserves the real credit for 'Hybrid Theory'. Lots of bands were going down the rap/rock crossover in the early part of the decade, and it's not as if it hadn't been done before (see collaborations between Anthrax and Public Enemy, or between Run DMC and Aerosmith). But Gilmore gave Linkin Park a unique style, at the pop end of both the rap and rock spectrum.

Bennington and Shinoda put it best themselves; "I tried so hard, in spite of the way you were mocking me". They were mocked, it's true, but their efforts were rewarded and after 'In The End' they never looked back.

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