Benjamin St. Pierre
On Oct. 24, 2001, one of the most influential and popular albums of all time was released. It has currently sold over 27 million copies worldwide, and is the best-selling album of the 21st century. What album is this, you ask? None other than “Hybrid Theory” by Linkin Park.
Think about this: the entire genre of nu-metal (Linkin Park, Korn and Limp Bizkit, to name a few) was founded on the principle of being an alternative to the glitzy, bubblegum-pop likes of Britney Spears, NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, etc. These were the artists all the youth loved at the time and they garnered all the attention. Nu-metalers hated that. They scorned those teenybopper artists and the reverence they received from their youthful fans and parents alike. And when the nu-metal genre was born out of a concoction of angst, sweat, blood, tears and an overall desire to make themselves known for being different from the conventions of the time, “Hybrid Theory” became one of the best-selling albums of the century. If that isn’t the best example of irony you’ll ever see in real life, I don’t know what would be.
To be blunt, nu-metal is dead. No musical young man or woman nowadays aspires to combine mumbling and untechnical, oftentimes bland, rap with chugging power chords and electronic synths strewn about. It was a mess of a genre. I mean, if you were old enough to be coherent and cognizant of the fact you were listening to Linkin Park, if you weren’t completely obsessed with pop, you HAD to like Linkin Park. I was in kindergarten and distinctly remember my older brother (12 at the time) blaring “Crawling” and “In the End” in our house and me just absorbing it, like sucking venom from a wound. It was nasty, for lack of a better term. What kind of young man didn’t like Linkin Park at some point? Nu-metal sucks, and sucked back then, but Linkin Park was fantastic in doing what it set out to do: make music different from the norm, and become popular and successful by making music that was not… popular. Interesting, but it worked.
Listening to “Hybrid Theory” now is a blast of nostalgia that, for me, can only be rivaled by listening to blink-182’s self-titled from 2003. Both albums were cornerstones and foundations for my taste in music, and made young me realize the greatness of “guitar music.” You can argue that these albums were not that great in terms of pure musical artistry, but “Hybrid Theory,” even now, gets me pumped up. It’s simple. It’s loud. It’s angst-ridden. It defined the outsiders of the generation of the ‘90s/’00s kids who didn’t want to be like the pop fans. It was the go-to. It’s one of the most important albums ever made, to put it simply. It will go down in history as a you’ve-gotta-hear-this-album-before-you-die album. And if you never heard it, you have to listen to it. It’s unlike anything made today, but representative of everything “abnormal” of when we grew up.