Linkin Park says “Good Goodbye” to their Roots

by Quincy Cotton

When I heard Linkin Park was releasing new music this year, I was hit with a wave of nostalgia. They were one of my favorite groups, and one of the first bands I really listened growing up. I discovered them in middle school, while I was in the process of discovering myself. Despite my love for them, I’ve always felt as though my enjoyment of their music was a phase and they would fizzle out from popularity at some point. That eventually did happen, as other rap-rock bands like Twenty One Pilots came around and hopped on the wave they created.

After listening to their single “Heavy” from their upcoming album One More Light, I was disappointed. The title is extremely misleading; this is some of the least heavy music I’ve ever heard from the southern California band’s discography. I expected the tried and true formula of Mike Shinoda’s gritty bars paired with Chester Pennington’s trademark lead vocals, prevalent on prior hits such as “Numb,” “Crawling,” “Somewhere I Belong,” and “Figure 09.” Instead, listeners get a lukewarm dance-pop duet single featuring Kiiara, an up-and-coming vocalist, who your traditional Linkin Park fan probably wouldn’t like, and has definitely never heard of. Still, I didn’t let that one taste of their upcoming album shape my entire opinion.

They released their second single, “Good Goodbye” featuring rappers Pusha T and Stormzy last week. While I enjoyed this track more than “Heavy” it still left an odd taste in my mouth. The electronic influence harks back to some of their better work but still is a sharp departure from their early sound. The band is known for blending aspects of many genres such as electronic and alternative music into their sound, but so far, it seems as though this isn’t so much a creative experiment as much as a commercial one. The band has suffered a stark decrease in popularity over the past 15 years, and to suddenly resurface with a soft, uncharacteristic pop ballad followed by an EDM venture seems like a desperate attempt for validation, and exposure to a new audience. The nu metal pioneers enlisted Justin Tranter and Julia Michaels, pop moguls who have written for the likes of Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez and Gwen Stefani, a move that baffled many of the band’s hardcore fans. The band’s signature sound lies within the songwriting power duo of Mike Shinoda and Brad Delson, and their input seems to be vastly overshadowed if at all present in this preview of their new album. “One More Light” is the first Linkin Park studio album to include co-songwriters, making me wonder where the band’s direction is truly going. While “Heavy” and “Good Goodbye” ultimately did not meet my expectations for a band I hold dear to my heart, I won’t pass judgment on their album until I hear it. It’s still entirely possible that Linkin Park can capture some of the same magic on their platinum albums Meteora and Hybrid Theory.