If you want to see an example up close of a polarized community turned inwards against itself, look not only to the United States of America, but also to the comments section of the lyric video for Linkin Park’s new single.Disclaimer: I’m a fan of Linkin Park, but in terms of fan obsession/adoration rankings, I’m pretty sure I’m not in the top ten million. But a healthy auditory diet of “Numb” and “Castle of Glass” got me through the college application process (although “In The End” ended up being more applicable to how college turned out), so I feel moderately qualified to speak on this issue.
Linkin Park has been getting some version of this vitriol since they moved away from the pure metal sound of their first two albums, Hybrid Theory and Meteora. On successive albums, they experimented with blending various other genres into their music, including hip-hop, electronica, and now, to the current consternation of many longtime fans, “pop,” in and of itself a nebulous term.
The fact that Linkin Park has been drifting away from their original sound since 2007’s Minutes to Midnight should calm angery fans down, but I understand that to some, shifting in the direction that they have signifies the end of Linkin Park’s street cred, that they have somehow “sold out,” and so on.
What I posit in response: It’s 2017, not 2000. I’m not the same person I was in 2000 (for example, I have slightly better hand-eye coordination and can now perform basic arithmetic), and Linkin Park is not the same band they were in 2000, when Hybrid Theory was released. Most, if not all, of the band members are married with kids. For heaven’s sake, their lead guitarist Brad is a Little League coach. The two songs they have released from their upcoming album are not in any way bad songs, and, in my opinion, they stick fairly closely to the Linkin Park vibe lyrically and tonally, i.e., just because there’s a little more of a “pop” influence, it doesn’t mean they’ve switched to a Max Martin-esque sound.
Their newest single “Battle Symphony,” released last Friday, is literally called “Battle Symphony,” and the backing instrumental (made of a very well done amalgamation of an electronic beat and guitars) is quite an earworm. The first single “Heavy” has some pretty dark, introspective lyrics and a matching music video. Also, it features Kiiara, who is apparently a big fan of the band; she is the first female guest vocalist on any Linkin Park song, ever, so there’s some positive progress. In short, let Linkin Park be the Linkin Park that they have evolved into, because if we were all the way back in the Hybrid Theory era, I would not yet know how to read. Thank you.