Recently one of the most popular names in rock music, Linkin Park (LP), released a new single called “HEAVY”. There were a lot of opinions regarding this song. Long term fans were peeved with the new sound the band had adopted. There was a feeling that the music they make can no longer be called “rock”. Others were of the opinion that regardless of the genre or the sound they have adopted, the song is a good song. And there are other opinions that either fall in between those two points. Some may even fall under an entirely different range. But that is another story.
The whole discussion got me thinking about the reasons for the various reactions to bands when they change their sound. And I think it all boils down to human nature. I’m sure some of you have heard or read the words “Humans are creatures of habit” or some variation of it somewhere. That line of thought has inspired the theory that humans don’t handle sudden change very well. And I think it plays a part in how fans react to their bands’ music.
In my years of actively following the works of bands and listening to albums, not just songs, I have noticed that for the most part bands always have some variation in their general sound as they go on. It could be for all sorts of reasons but at the end of the day they switch things up.
“But what does all that talk of human nature have to do with anything?”
Well, LP has been around for years and over the years and from their first album. They have had a large and vocal fan base. They started out as a Nu-Metal/Hard Rock/Rap Metal outfit and garnered a following because of that. This sound was present in their first two albums and was loved by a lot of people. Till now, LP still performs songs like “ONE STEP CLOSER”, “NUMB” and “IN THE END” at their shows.
Four years after the release of the “METEORA”, their second album, they dropped “Minutes to Midnight”. The album was well received despite it being a slight deviation from the Linkin Park everyone had come to know. I remember my friend saying “Did a member of the band or a band member’s family or friend die?” after listening to the album. This was due to the presence of less hard and heavy songs on the record in favour of more melancholic, alternative rock type tunes.
“1000 Suns” album followed in 2010 and I think this is where things started feeling weird for some fans. The album had an overall electronic rock feel to it. It had some of the melancholy from the previous album but the overall sound was quite different. The guitars and drums were not as sharp and gritty as they were in their previous albums for the most part. It was at this juncture that some old fans said things like “LINKIN PARK is now a pop/electronic band”,”LP isn’t a ROCK band anymore”
“Living Things” was released two years after, and while it still had a very noticeable electronic rock sound. Some said it was because of the more “ROCKY” sound the songs had even with the evident electronic music vibe they had but overall better received.
“The Hunting Party” which was released in 2014. The general reception of the album varies from person to person but it was clear LP was trying to make an album that would be seen as a “rock album”. In some interviews, Mike Shinoda, a member of the band, stated the band’s intention was to make “rock music”. In one interview I watched on YouTube, Mike Shinoda stated that when he tuned in to rock stations, what he heard was “pop music”. The end result was an album with less of an Electronic Rock vibe. This was present in the last two albums but dialled down in favour of a more Hard rock, alternative rock/metal sound with more pronounced distorted guitar riffs.
The future and what to expect.
Now it’s 2017 and LP is releasing an album in the month of May. The first single off the album, “Heavy” saw a return to a more melancholic, electronic music sound. From what I perceive from some corners of the internet, there is the likelihood of the whole album having this vibe.
The reason for this whole exposition is to paint a picture of what LP have sounded like over time. There have been consistent but unpredictable changes in their sound over time. Making some old fans who are not particularly fond of their more electronic sound wonder if they will ever get an LP album that will sound like something they would want to listen to. Human beings are creatures of habit. When bands move from one genre to another “out of the blue”, it feels off to the fans.
So these are my thoughts. I’ll probably cover this topic from a more personal perspective soon. So what are your thoughts on my thoughts?