Beyond Labels: Remembering the Influence of Linkin Park and Chester Bennington

Photo from Billboard.com

One of my favorite things about being a “speculative chic(k)” is my love for all genres: fantasy, horror, science fiction, etc. And don’t even get my started with the subgenres within the genres. So it’s no surprise that my favorite band is Linkin Park. When it comes to music, Linkin Park is one of those bands that is able to cross over all genres. Fusing rock and rap, they exploded on to the music scene in the late-1990s and early-2000s. As they continued to make music over the last 20 years, their sound evolved incorporating electronic and pop into their songs. They released seven studio albums, along with a few remix and live albums. Their latest album, One More Light, came out this year. In addition, they also appeared on several genre movie soundtracks: Dracula 2000, The Matrix Reloaded, and Underworld: Awakening.

But I would say that they are more known for their musical contributions to the Transformers franchise.

“What I’ve Done” is the main theme for the first film Transformers (2007). The band released their own music video for it and it also appeared on their album Minutes to Midnight, so I’ve included the song as it appears over the end credits in the movie.

“New Divide” appeared in the second film Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) and was recorded specifically for the film.

“Iridescent” served as the theme song for Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) and also appeared on their album A Thousand Suns.

Many of their own music videos also included speculative themes.

“Somewhere I Belong” appeared on their second album Meteora and the video includes science fiction elements.

“Pts.OF.Athrty” is from their remix album Reanimation. The CGI video features robots battling an alien race. According to the band, the video was inspired by the dream sequences in the film Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.

“In the End” is from their first album Hybrid Theory and is probably their most recognized song. It’s also the first song that made me a fan, thanks to the video. Again, the video incorporates CGI, this time in a fantasy setting.

“Papercut” is also from Hybrid Theory, and the music video has a horror vibe to it. It seems to be set in a haunted house and incorporates many images of paranoia and fear that is alluded to in the song’s lyrics.

Not only was Linkin Park influential visually, but their lyrics were always so profound to me. As a writer I understand what’s like to use words as a creative outlet, to let out emotions through stories. And that’s what songwriters are also — storytellers.

While writing my first novel series about a group of demon hunters and the monsters they killed (figuratively and literally), I had their Reanimation album on heavy rotation. “My December” was one that touched me personally and became my female lead character’s theme.

This is my December
This is my time of the year
This is my December
This is all so clear

This is my December
This is my snow covered home
This is my December
This is me alone

Their music became my unofficial writing soundtrack because they were able to fuse together the dark and the light, the hard and the soft — and that’s what always attracted me to supernatural fiction. We are creatures of duality, and I love exploring that in my writing. I also sensed that in Linkin Park’s music. We all have our demons, and we all have our own ways of dealing with them. If you listen to Linkin Park, you will hear all of their demons and the voices inside their heads. That’s why so many people connected with their music. We could feel all the emotions, the highs and the lows, because we can relate to them in their songs.

Tragically, Linkin Park lead singer, Chester Bennington, could not beat his personal demons. Chester took his own life on July 20. As a sexual abuse survivor and someone who publicly struggled with depression and addiction, Chester channeled everything he felt into his music. You could feel each angry growl, but at the same time, you would weep at his soft voice singing songs like “My December.”

“We’re trying to remind ourselves that the demons who took you away from us were always part of the deal,” the remaining band members wrote in a statement after his death. “After all, it was you who sang about those demons that made everyone fall in love with you in the first place.”

Since his death, I’ve read many stories of how his music and his voice saved so many people. And I admit, I took the news pretty hard too (I still can’t comprehend the fact that we will never hear his voice in new music again; the only way I could express myself was through words). The fate of Linkin Park is unknown right now, but as I worked on this post, I was reminded about how their music influenced an entire generation. They showed me that, as an artist, it was okay to try new things and not be labeled as one thing, to be more vulnerable in my writing, and to be unafraid in my storytelling.

That is the legacy Chester will leave behind with all of us.

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