My thoughts on “A Thousand Suns”

Hey everyone!

Now, I’ve been following the news regarding one of my favorite bands recently, and there’s been a lot of stuff going on with their new album, the concepts behind it, and the automatic response from the fans based on what they’ve seen. I’m talking about Linkin Park, a band that’s been a steady favorite of mine since 2001. Linkin Park is known for always changing the style of their music, and reforming it to some other sonic possibility, and fans usually give the band a piece of their mind regarding the changes. Linkin Park started off as a rap-metal band, but their lyrics always seemed to encapsulate more problematic themes of life, which was atypical to the rap that’s heard today. Their stuff was about pain, internal conflict, and trying to break free, and that was original in the music world of that time.

However, in their third album, they found that the sound they were making was becoming worn out, and this is something that I love this band for. There are bands out there like Nickelback and Green Day that don’t understand the concept of wearing out their sound. It’s almost like every song they make sounds the exact same: the chord progression is the same, the interludes, and the harmonies. So Linkin Park’s third album, Minutes to Midnight, was in many cases a radical departure. Many of the songs were softer than before, a lot less rapping, although it did have its intense moments. But they also began doing things they’ve never done before. There were harmonies, guitar solos, political themes, and more. But most importantly, it was the maturation of the band.

Now, there’s a fourth album on the horizon, coming out this September, called “A Thousand Suns”. The first single comes out tomorrow, but Linkin Park has given everyone a sneak preview of the song through the promo for the new “Medal of Honor” game.

Just by listening to this song, you can see that the style has radically changed once again, and most of the fan feedback is really mixed. But what I find intriguing is the negative feedback: “I want screaming and rapping”, “Bring back the old Linkin Park”, etc., etc. I hate to tell these fans, but that just isn’t going to happen. When Linkin Park wrote the first songs that these fans have fallen in love with, it was 1999: They were still in their 20s, living out of suitcases, wondering where the next step would take them. They were just happy that they were in the spotlight.

But now, it’s 2010 (that would be 11 years later for those keeping count). Most of the members of the band are married, with children, and have enjoyed success in their fortune. But most importantly, they’ve realized that their problems are much more minuscule in comparison to the problems happening in the world today. Linkin Park founded “Music for Relief”, a charity organization dedicated to raising money for victims of natural disasters. They’ve raised $3 million for victims of Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, wildfires, and cyclone victims. They’ve performed at venues such as Live 8 and Live Earth to stress human responsibility in the environment. They’ve sung about personal problems in the past, but they’re content now, and the focus has shifted to the problems of the world. Now that they have the spotlight, they have a message that the world needs to hear, and they hope that the fans are listening. The fans that don’t understand the changes in their music don’t understand the perspective. It’s not about Linkin Park anymore. It’s about the civil unrest, the disadvantages, the people hoping that someone is listening.

But even on top of that, I was watching parts of the making of the new album, and they showed all sorts of creativity in making their new music that I don’t see from any other band today. (Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJHDcJipjZg&feature=related)They were trying to make sounds that haven’t been made before, and the first thing that came to my mind when I saw this was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. When the Beatles were creating this record (now heralded as a masterpiece), they were in pursuit of sounds that nobody heard before. The thought of recording a bunch of sounds to one tape, slashing the tape to pieces, and then reconstructing the tape randomly so all the sounds were jumbled (Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite), they thought of making songs based off of ads for Corn Flakes (Good Morning Good Morning), and John Lennon even wrote my personal favorite song based off of a drawing his son made when he was a child (Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds). For those who haven’t seen this documentary posted on YouTube, here’s an embedded player for you:

But seeing this out of Linkin Park really brought the memory of Sgt. Pepper back, and just the fact that they’re writing an album with the idea of reflecting on the problems in the world, and still making it technically advanced is amazing. I can’t wait to hear the album, no matter what it may bring! =]

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