A few days ago, Linkin Park’s 2000 debut album Hybrid Theory was promoted to diamond status by the Recording Industry Association of American for selling 10 million copies.
My initial thought: 10 million people bought that piece of crap? My proceeding thought: I remember my Linkin Park phase.
I remember actually borrowing my friend’s copy of Hybrid Theory and listening to it on my Sony Walkman. I turned it up as loud as it could and I listened to the song “Crawling” over and over again. The way Chester Bennington screamed during the chorus was as real and raw as anything I had ever heard. It was at that point where I thought that Linkin Park was the coolest band in the world.
As my music tastes grew along with my age, and as I started to hate that repeated seven second rapping part in “Crawling” that in 10-year-old Peter’s opinion threw off the flow of the song, I started to dislike Linkin Park. In fact, I thought they sucked.
As I look back on that time, nothing has changed, I still think that Linkin Park sucks. But they only suck because it’s my personal preference. With music, it’s hard to label something that’s really good or really bad because there is no chart or meter that tracks awfulness. That’s the beauty of listening, creating and judging music.
Linkin Park could be looked at in this light. They did what Limp Bizkit couldn’t do. They added melody and emotions to the rap-rock and nu metal genres and thus gave the kids of post-Generation X a new, powerful voice.
Linkin Park also managed to pull off a record with Jay-Z called Collision Course, and it was pretty good. 2002’s Collision Course wound up spawning a movement that called for DJs, and anyone with a computer for that matter, to blend multiple songs into one song. These are now called “mash-ups.” Collision Course was also the first time that rap and rock had blended well together since Run-DMC re-recorded Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” in 1986.
Do I still believe that 10 million people bought a copy of Hybrid Theory? Hell no. But 20-year-old Peter knows something that 10-year-old Peter didn’t. I now understand that Linkin Park is actually important to popular music and they have made a significant impact.
The same could also be said for the young career of Carly Rae Jepsen. I don’t think she’s very good and I find her music to be quite agitating. This is partially due to the fact that her record company went completely overboard and pressed Jepsen’s single “Call Me Maybe” on every single radio station in the United States.
But there could be some small faction of people that actually thinks that Jepsen is really good. They buy all of her music, they go to her concerts and they buy her merchandise. This is the opposite end of the spectrum from where I stand on Jepsen, but I can understand where they’re coming from only because I like other artists that much, but I still don’t understand her appeal.
Artists such as Linkin Park and Carly Rae Jepsen have this in defense of their art. Music can be judged and criticized, analyzed and categorized, but there will never be any one person to say whether something is good and something is bad. In an era where people can just sit behind a computer and voice their opinion without any base for their argument, the fact that music can’t be touched or have a universal grade is just as relevant as ever. It’s something that 20-year-old Peter understands and it’s something that 10-year-old Peter will just have to live with.