“I had to fall, to lose it all, but in the end, it doesn’t even matter”
To re-define a genre is a difficult thing to comprehend. To be the voice of a generation at the same time is something altogether different.
It’s a credit to Chester Bennington, alongside his Linkin Park band mates, that through their 17+ years at the top of the music industry, this is exactly what they did.
It’s easy to forget that Linkin Park’s debut album, Hybrid Theory, became the best-selling debut of the 21st Century, propelling the band and, as is the way, frontman Bennington into the public consciousness on a huge scale. The power in his voice, visualised by the tattoos on his wrists and arms, was visceral and instantly impactful. His style perfectly matched with Mike Shinoda’s rhythmical verses and it was this chemistry fronting the nu-metal/hip-hop mix of the band which would propel them across genres and break through into the mainstream.
Having suffered well documented abuse and struggles throughout his life, like so many, Bennington found creative outputs to channel his emotions. Becoming the voice to millions of disillusioned listeners all over the world, his was one which was clear and direct. Unafraid to bare his soul on record, in his own words, taking responsibility for your own actions.
Open and honest about his experiences, he shone a light on topics not normally associated with mainstream pop music – as a large element of Linkin Park’s back catalogue is – which allowed millions across the world to find solace and comfort.
Uncomfortably, recent (and last) single ‘Heavy (feat. Kiiara)’, was formed around Bennington’s relatable lyrics of a man struggling to restrict the lengths to which he “drives himself crazy”, and show a man in constant conflict with himself.
So many words have been and will continue to be written about his struggles, but the joy he experienced and brought to others should never be overlooked. Within the documentary which accompanies Collision Course (Linkin Park’s hugely successful crossover EP with hip-hop royalty Jay-Z) Bennington smiles and laughs his way through the recordings with an innocence not usually associated with one of the biggest frontmen in the world. (It is worth noting that at the time, Hybrid Theory had sold almost as much as the first four Jay-Z albums put together.)
The playfulness and fun in Bennington’s relationships with his band mates and audience captured within this documentary should be remembered as much as anything else in the coming weeks and months.
Bennington was wrong; in the end, it does matter. All of it.
Our thoughts are with Chester Bennington’s family, friends and band mates.