On December 5th, 1994 I spent the evening standing out front of the Tower Records in Westwood, CA, waiting for the midnight release of Pearl Jam's Vitalogy. The line stretched down the block, packed with kids who could have just as easily showed up the next morning to buy the exact same album. It wasn't like we were waiting to buy concert tickets that might sell out...this album was going to be available everywhere. Even Walmart had it. But standing in line in the freezing temperatures (for LA that means like 50) was a rite of passage. You earned the privilege to be one of the first to hear the album. I stood in line with my friend Mike, shivering with anticipation...and we did nothing but talk shit about my friend Barry who didn't come with us because his girlfriend wouldn't let him. He asked us to buy him a copy. We told him to fuck off. We earned it...he could go to Walmart.
The anticipation made the album more exciting. It made it more worthwhile to go home at one in the morning and listen to the album on repeat, dissecting what the hell the band was thinking with "Hey Foxymophandlemama." And we loved ever minute. That excitement/anticipation is all but gone from buying music today. Now, you can jump on your computer at 9:00 PM pacific time on any Monday...and get all the new releases with one click. There's no build-up...you don't have to earn anything...and honestly, I feel like it waters down the material. When you had to work to get your music, it made you appreciate it more. Now...when it's handed to you...you take it for granted.
So, what does this have to do with Linkin Park? I'm sure most of you are cringing that I would even dare include them in a post mentioning Pearl Jam. But this is an argument in defense of this very schizophrenic band, who might be the only ones who still get it. Though they made a name for themselves as a metal/rap band, they've fought to break out of that mold. And they've lost a lot of fans along the way. Even I was a hater of their third album where they embraced their inner Backstreet boy. But the fourth album, which pissed most fans off, won me back. Their fourth album (A Thousand Suns) was a prog album, and it was freaking great. For a band who had made a career crushing alternative radio with catchy singles...it took a lot of balls to release an album that had almost no potential singles, that left even the Mars Volta scratching their heads in disbelief. This was the kind album Porcupine Tree should be putting out...not Linkin Park. How in the world could this band snub commercial radio... the very thing that had made them who they are? It's strangely similar to another band in the 90s who gave the middle finger to MTV and stopped making videos at the height of their popularity? hmmm...
Isn't this what bands are supposed to do? Aren't they supposed to evolve...morph...re-invent themselves? Aren't they supposed to question the establishment? Are they supposed to challenge what is expected of them? Aren't they supposed to piss off fans in the hunt for something completely different? And doesn't that make it more exciting? Doesn't the anticipation of what crazy thing they'll do next make you a bit more interested? I know I'll never convince everyone that Linkin Park deserves a second chance...but maybe I can convince you that they are not the sell-outs that you may have thought they are.
Here are the 11 Best Songs By Linkin Park:
- Numb/Encore (Collision Course)
- In The End (Hybrid Theory)
- Pushing Me Away (Hybrid Theory)
- Faint (Meteroa)
- Bleed It Out (Minutes To Midnight)
- Crawling (Hybrid Theory) - w/ Chris Cornell
- Robot Boy (A Thousand Suns)
- Hands Held High (Minutes To Midnight)
- When They Come For Me (A Thousand Suns)
- Runaway (Hybrid Theory)
- The Catalyst (A Thousand Suns)