Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington had a voice that soundtracked a generation of rock music fans.
He was an underrated, multi-faceted powerhouse of a singer – angsty yet emotional, capable of the most tender of verses but could crescendo into an ear piercing shriek that made many of Linkin Park’s songs perfect for screaming in the car, karaoke, or when you just wanted to let off some steam.
While Linkin Park has had many iconic hits over the years, these are the five songs in which Bennington’s vocals have stood out the most, whether on his own, or as part of the band’s sound.
One Step Closer
The song that announced Linkin Park to the world. Over the glorious headbang-worthy riffs, Bennington snarls and spits out the verses like a wounded lion waiting to pounce. When he finally lets loose during the chorus, it’s a fist-punching payoff that makes you want to scream along with him.
Also, there is no better way to let out your (teenage) angst screaming along to the “SHUT UP WHEN I’M TALKING TO YOU!” bit at the end.
In The End
Linkin Park wasn’t just about Bennington, of course. Mike Shinoda was equally integral to its signature sound. We’d already gotten a taste of Shinoda’s potency with Papercut, but it was In The End that really cemented the rapper/singer chemistry between Shinoda and Bennington.
It hooks you in the second that distinctive intro comes on, with Bennington whispering “It starts with …” before Shinoda’s rapping kicks in, all the while with the singer in the background waiting to break loose with that iconic chorus. In the end, the song turned out to be Linkin Park’s biggest hit ever, hitting No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2002.
Released in 2003, Linkin Park’s second album, Meteora, went straight to No.1 on the Billboard Album Chart. All four of its singles – Somewhere I Belong, Faint, Numb and Breaking The Habit – were solid offerings that hit No.1 on the Alternative Rock chart. However, only Numb managed to make a major dent on the mainstream chart, going to No.11 on the Billboard Top 100.
With lines like “tired of being what you want me to be”, it features Bennington at his most vulnerable and hurt. Though the later Numb/Encore collaboration with Jay-Z also turned out to be a major hit, nothing beats the raw emotion of the original.
Shadow Of The Day
The biggest hit on Linkin Park’s third album, Minutes From Midnight was What I’ve Done (thanks in part to it being chosen as the main theme of blockbuster Transformers in 2007). But it’s this soaring, almost tender track is the one that stands out most. It doesn’t even sound like a Linkin Park number, with its (relatively) simple arrangement and lack of recognisable hooks.
However, Bennington’s vocals are at his most heartfelt and hopeful in this song, almost making you believe that he had found some peace in his life at last.
A Thousand Suns, released in 2010, was arguably Linkin Park’s most experimental album yet, with album opener and lead single The Catalyst underlining the bands new approach. Sounding like a prog rock/nu-metal mash-up at first, it speeds up into a snarling, savage hurricane of a song that has both Shinoda and Bennington matching their vocals to perfection.
It’s probably not Linkin Park’s most recognisable song, but it stands out as Shinoda and Bennington’s best vocal partnership in the later half of the band’s history.