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Hybrid Theory

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Hybrid Theory
A stenciled painting of a soldier with wings carrying a flag. The artist name appears above while the album title appears next to the soldier.
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 24, 2000 (2000-10-24)
Recorded1998 - 2000
LabelWarner Bros.
ProducerDon Gilmore
Linkin Park studio album chronology
Hybrid Theory
Singles from Hybrid Theory
  1. "One Step Closer"
    Released: September 28, 2000
  2. "Crawling"
    Released: November 14, 2000
  3. "Papercut"
    Released: April 30, 2001
  4. "In the End"
    Released: August 2001

Hybrid Theory is the debut studio album by American rock band Linkin Park, released on October 24, 2000, through Warner Bros. Records. As of 2017, the album has been certified diamond by the RIAA for sales in the band's home country of United States, with over eleven million units, peaking at number two on the US Billboard 200, and it also has reached high positions on other charts worldwide, with 30 million copies sold, making it the best-selling debut album since Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction (1987) and the best-selling rock album of the 21st century.[1][2]

Recorded at NRG Recordings in North Hollywood, California, and produced by Don Gilmore, the album's lyrical themes deal with problems lead vocalist Chester Bennington experienced during his adolescence, including drug abuse and the constant fighting and divorce of his parents. Hybrid Theory takes its title from the previous name of the band as well as the concept of music theory and combining different styles.

Four singles were released from the album: "One Step Closer", "Crawling", "Papercut", and "In the End", all of them being responsible for launching Linkin Park into mainstream popularity. While "In the End" was the most successful of the four, all of the singles in the album remain some of the band's most successful songs to date. Although "Runaway", "Points of Authority", and "My December" from the special edition bonus disc album were not released as singles, they were minor hits on alternative rock radio stations thanks to the success of all of the band's singles and the album. At the 2002 Grammy Awards, Hybrid Theory was nominated for Best Rock Album; the album is listed in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. It was ranked number 11 on Billboard's 200 Albums of the Decade.[3] A special edition of Hybrid Theory was released March 11, 2002, a year and a half after its original pressing. Linkin Park performed the album in its entirety at the Download Festival on June 14, 2014 and on August 12, 2014 it was released as a live CD titled Hybrid Theory: Live at Download Festival 2014.[4]


Chester Bennington Performing in Texas.
Chester Bennington was said to be the final piece of the puzzle for the band

Linkin Park was founded in 1996 as the rap rock band Xero: lead guitarist Brad Delson, vocalist and rhythm guitarist Mike Shinoda, drummer Rob Bourdon, turntablist Joe Hahn, lead vocalist Mark Wakefield and bassist Dave Farrell (who subsequently left to tour with Tasty Snax). In 1999, after Wakefield's departure, lead vocalist Chester Bennington joined the five members of Xero and the band was renamed Linkin Park. Bennington's previous band, Grey Daze, had recently disbanded, so his lawyer recommended him to Jeff Blue, vice president of A&R coordination for Zomba, who at the time was seeking a lead vocalist for Xero. Blue sent Bennington two tapes of Xero's unreleased recordings — one with vocals by former Xero member Mark Wakefield, and the other with only the instrumental tracks — asking for his "interpretation of the songs".[5] Bennington wrote and recorded new vocals over the instrumentals and sent the tapes back to Blue;[6] as Delson recalls, "[Bennington] really was kind of the final piece of the puzzle [...] We didn't see anything close to his talent in anybody else."[7] After Bennington joined, the group first renamed itself to Hybrid Theory and released a self-titled EP. Legal complications with Welsh electronic music group Hybrid prompted a second name change, thus deciding on "Linkin Park".[5][8] Throughout 1999, Linkin Park was a regular act at the Los Angeles club, The Whisky.[9]

Writing and recording[edit]

The music that would ultimately become the Hybrid Theory album was first produced by Linkin Park in 1999 as a nine-track demo tape; the band sent this tape to various recording companies and played forty-two different showcases for recording industry representatives, including performances for Los Angeles promoter and impresario, Mike Galaxy's showcase at The Gig on Melrose.[6][10] However, they were initially turned down by most of the major labels and several independent record labels;[5] the band was signed by Warner Bros. Records in 1999, due in large part to the constant recommendations of Jeff Blue, who had joined the label after resigning from Zomba.[5][6][7]

Despite initial difficulties in finding a producer willing to take charge of the debut album of a newly signed band, Don Gilmore ultimately agreed to head up the project,[6] with Andy Wallace hired as the mixer. Recording sessions, which mostly involved re-recording the songs off the demo tape, began at NRG Recordings in North Hollywood, California in early 2000 and lasted four weeks.[6] Shinoda's rapping sections in most of the songs were significantly altered from the original, while most choruses remained largely unchanged.[11] Due to the absence of Dave Farrell and Kyle Christener, who took part in the 1999 extended play, the band hired Scott Koziol and Ian Hornbeck as stand-in bassists; Delson also played bass throughout most of the album;[12] the Dust Brothers provided additional beats for the track “With You”.[13]

Bennington and Shinoda wrote the lyrics of Hybrid Theory based in part on early demos with Mark Wakefield.[5] Shinoda characterized the lyrics as interpretations of universal feelings, emotions, and experiences, and as “everyday emotions you talk about and think about.”[14][15] Bennington later described the songwriting experience to Rolling Stone in early 2002:

It's easy to fall into that thing — 'poor, poor me', that's where songs like 'Crawling' come from: I can't take myself, but that song is about taking responsibility for your actions. I don't say 'you' at any point. It's about how I'm the reason that I feel this way. There's something inside me that pulls me down.[5]


The music of Hybrid Theory draws from diverse inspirations. Bennington's singing style is influenced by acts such as Depeche Mode and Stone Temple Pilots,[5] while the riffs and playing techniques of guitarist Brad Delson are modeled after Deftones, Guns N' Roses,[6] U2, and The Smiths.[5] Mike Shinoda's rapping, present in seven tracks, is very close to The Roots' style; the lyrical content of the songs primarily touches upon the problems that Bennington encountered during his childhood, including constant and excessive drug and alcohol abuse,[5] the divorce of his parents, isolation,[16] disappointments, and the aftermath feelings of failed relationships.[17] Stylistically, the album has been described as nu metal,[18][19][20][21][22] rap metal,[18][23][24][25] rap rock,[26][27][28][29] alternative metal,[29][30] and alternative rock.[31][32]

The album eventually produced four singles. "One Step Closer", the album's second track and first single, was gradually recorded in increments after Linkin Park struggled with "Runaway", and features a guitar riff and electronic percussion in the introduction transitioning into a bridge with distortion-heavy guitars and aggressive drums.[33] It is also famous for the "Shut up when I'm talkin' to you!" refrain screamed by Bennington one minute and 48 seconds into the song.[33][34] The music video for "One Step Closer" was shot in a Los Angeles subway[35] and became an instant hit, eventually receiving heavy rotation on MTV and other music television networks.[6] Stand-in bassist Scott Koziol is shown performing with the band in the video.[35]

The second single was "Crawling", which Bennington described as "about feeling like I had no control over myself in terms of drugs and alcohol."[36]

"Papercut" was the album's third single, and its lyrics describe paranoia. The music video for "Papercut" features the band performing in a hallway opposite a completely dark room on the walls of which are scribbled the song's lyrics. Various supernatural themes are present in the video, and special effects are used to create eerie renditions, such as the "stretching" of Shinoda's fingers and the “melting” of Bourdon's face.[37]

The fourth single to come from Hybrid Theory was "In the End", which prominently features a signature piano riff performed by Shinoda, his rapping also dominates the verses of the song and is later joined by Bennington's vocals in the chorus. The music video for "In the End" was shot at various stops along the 2001 Ozzfest tour and was directed by Nathan "Karma" Cox and the band's DJ Joe Hahn, who would go on to direct many of Linkin Park's future videos (the two also directed the music video for "Papercut").[38][39] Although the background for the "In the End" video was filmed in a California desert, the band itself performed on a studio stage in Los Angeles, with prominent CGI effects and compositing being used to create the finished version. Performing on a studio stage allowed Hahn and Cox to set off water pipes above the stage near the end and drench the band;[40] the music video won the Best Rock Video award at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards.[41]

"Points of Authority", the fourth track on the album, has its own music video that can be found on Frat Party at the Pankake Festival, the band's first DVD. Drummer Rob Bourdon describes the recording process of the song: “Brad wrote this riff, then went home. Mike decided to cut it up into different pieces and rearranged them on the computer [...] Brad had to learn his own part from the computer.” Regarding the song, Delson praised Shinoda's skill, describing him as “a genius” and “Trent Reznor-talented”.[5] On live performances of the song, when Shinoda raps the line, "Forfeit the game" verse for the third time in the song, Bennington would rap the verse along with Mike.[20]


With Hybrid Theory being Linkin Park's first album, Mike Shinoda, who had worked as a graphic designer before becoming a professional musician, has stated that the band had looked through books for inspiration on how to present themselves for the first time; the result was a winged-soldier which Shinoda illustrated himself. According to Chester Bennington, the idea of the soldier with dragonfly wings was to describe the blending of hard and soft musical elements by the use of the jaded looks of the soldier and frail touches of the wings;[42] the art style was largely influenced by stencil graffiti, including early works by Banksy.[43] The cover also features scrambled lyrics of the album's songs within the background, though the lyrics of "One Step Closer" are the most prominent.[44]


Following the success of Hybrid Theory, Linkin Park received invitations to perform at various rock concerts and tours, including Ozzfest, the Family Values Tour, KROQ-FM's Almost Acoustic Christmas, and the band's self-created tour, Projekt Revolution, which was headlined by Linkin Park and featured other bands such as Cypress Hill and Adema.[5][7] During this time, Linkin Park reunited with their original bassist, Dave “Phoenix” Farrell;[5] the band kept an online journal on their official website throughout their 2001 and 2002 touring regime, in which each band member made a respective notation. Although the notes are no longer on their website, they are available on fansites.[45] Linkin Park played 324 shows in 2001.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[46]
Christgau's Consumer Guide(2-star Honorable Mention)(2-star Honorable Mention)[47]
Melodic4.4/5 stars[48]
Melody Maker4/5 stars[49]
Q4/5 stars[51]
Rolling Stone2.5/5 stars[52]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3.5/5 stars[53]

Hybrid Theory was released in the United States on October 24, 2000 following radio airplay of "One Step Closer". Four singles from the album were released throughout 2001 (though "Points of Authority" was released as a promotional single), three of which were chart successes on the US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks charts;[55] the single "In the End" was the highest charting single from the album, which peaked at #1 on the Modern Rock Tracks charts and appearing on charts worldwide. The success of "In the End" was partly responsible for Hybrid Theory's chart success; it reached #2 in the Billboard 200 in early 2002 behind Weathered by Creed and by J to tha L–O!: The Remixes by Jennifer Lopez. Hybrid Theory was the 11th best performing album on the Billboard 200 during the decade, the album reached the top ten in its 38th week on the chart and stayed in the top ten for 34 weeks. The album spent nearly 170 weeks on the chart as of 2017, by re entering at #167 in February 2011 and for several weeks every time a new studio album was released.[56] Following the death of Chester Bennington in July 2017, the album re-entered at #27 on the Billboard 200, along with three of their other studio albums, re-surfacing into the top 10 at #8 the following week. In the UK, it peaked at #4 in 2001 and re-climbed to its peak position in July 2017, the same week it re-entered the top 10 in the US; the album also charted in 11 other countries at fairly high positions and ranked among the top ten in the charts of the United Kingdom, Sweden, New Zealand, Austria, Finland, and Switzerland.[57] At the 44th Grammy Awards in 2002, Linkin Park won Best Hard Rock Performance for their song "Crawling". Additional nominations for Best New Artist and Best Rock Album lost out to Alicia Keys and All That You Can't Leave Behind by U2.[58]

Hybrid Theory received generally positive reviews from critics. Mike Ross of Jam! found the album to be an effective fusion of hip hop and heavy metal sounds and praised Linkin Park as "one of the finest new rap metal bands".[59] Stephanie Dickison of PopMatters commented that they are "a far more complex and talented group than the hard rock boy bands of late" that "will continue to fascinate and challenge music's standard sounds."[34] Q magazine wrote that the band had given "angst-ridden rock... an effective electronic spin."[51] Johan Wippsson from Melodic praised Don Gilmore's production and described the album as "destructive and angry but always with a well controlled melodic feeling all over."[48] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice quipped that "the men don't know what the angry boys understand", giving the album a two-star honorable mention rating and citing "Papercut" and "Points of Authority" as highlights.[47]

AllMusic writer William Ruhlmann was more critical of Hybrid Theory and wrote that Linkin Park "sounds like a Johnny-come-lately to an already overdone musical style", citing "One Step Closer" in particular as "a typical effort".[46] NME's Noel Gardner remarked that it was a "decent" album in need of editing, writing that "otherwise damn fine soaring emo-crunchers like 'With You' and 'A Place for My Head' are pointlessly jazzed up with tokenistic scratching".[50] Matt Diehl of Rolling Stone felt that the album "works in spots" and the band "knows its way around a hook", but panned Bennington and Shinoda's "corny, boilerplate-aggro lyrics".[52] Tyler Fisher of Sputnikmusic writes that "Hybrid Theory stands as a defining mainstream album at the turn of the century, and for good reason", despite the occasional presence of "bland and unoriginal" guitar riffs.[54] In a retrospective write-up for Stylus Magazine, Ian Cohen remarked that while the album is "almost completely forgettable" outside of its singles, it "was strangely fresh for mainstream rock radio, particularly placed in relief of its ugly post-grunge peers and the staunch revivalism of the Strokes/White Stripes front".[60]

Later in 2002, Linkin Park released an album entitled Reanimation, it included the songs of Hybrid Theory remixed and reinterpreted by nu metal and underground hip hop artists.[61] Contributors to the album included Black Thought, Pharoahe Monch, Jonathan Davis, Stephen Carpenter, and Aaron Lewis; the sound of later Linkin Park albums would involve experimentation with classical instruments such as strings and piano, both of which, along with the same elements of electronica from Hybrid Theory, are prominently included in the band's second studio album Meteora.[62] As Shinoda explains the difference in the sound between Hybrid Theory and Meteora: "That electronic element has always been there in the band – it's just that sometimes we bring it closer to the front."[63]


Hybrid Theory found itself in several "must have" lists that were compiled by various music publications, networks, and other media. In 2012, Rock Sound named Hybrid Theory the best modern classic album of the last 15 years. In 2013, Loudwire ranked it at #10 in its Best Hard Rock Debut Albums list;[64] some of the more prominent of these lists to feature Hybrid Theory are shown below:[65]

Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
The Village Voice United States Pazz & Jop[66] 2001 159
Classic Rock United Kingdom The 100 Greatest Rock Albums of All-Time[67] 2005 72
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame United States The Definitive 200[68] 2007 84
1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die United States 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die[69] 2006 *
Record Collector United Kingdom Best of 2001[70] 2001 *
Rock Sound France Les 150 Albums De La Génération (The top 150 Albums of the Generation)[71] 2006 58
Rock Sound United States 101 Modern Classic Albums of the last 15 years[72] 2012 1
Rock Hard Germany The 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums of All Time[73] 2005 421
Kerrang! United Kingdom 50 best rock albums of the 2000s[74] 2014 8

* denotes an unordered list

Commercial performance[edit]

Hybrid Theory debuted at number 29 on the US Billboard 200, selling 50,000 copies in its first week.[75][76] It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) five weeks after its release.[6] In 2001, the album had sold 4.8 million copies in the United States, making it the best-selling album of the year,[77][78] and it was estimated that the album continued selling 100,000 copies per week in early 2002.[5] Throughout the following years, the album continued to sell at a fast pace and was eventually certified diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America in 2005 for shipment of ten million copies in the United States.[79] To date, the album has sold 30 million copies worldwide,[2] which makes it the best selling debut album of the 21st century;[80] as of July 2017, the album has sold 10,500,000 copies in the US.[81] After the death of Chester Bennington on July 20, 2017, the album reached number 1 on the iTunes and Amazon music charts.[82]

Track listing[edit]

1."Papercut"Linkin Park3:04
2."One Step Closer"Linkin Park2:35
3."With You"3:23
4."Points of Authority"Linkin Park3:20
5."Crawling"Linkin Park3:29
  • Linkin Park
  • Mark Wakefield
7."By Myself"Linkin Park3:09
8."In the End"Linkin Park3:36
9."A Place for My Head"
  • Linkin Park
  • Wakefield
  • Dave Farrell
  • Linkin Park
  • Wakefield
  • Farrell
11."Cure for the Itch" (Instrumental)Linkin Park2:37
12."Pushing Me Away"Linkin Park3:11
Total length:37:45


Linkin Park



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Argentina (CAPIF)[131] Platinum 60,000^
Australia (ARIA)[133] 5× Platinum 350,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[134] Platinum 50,000*
Belgium (BEA)[135] Platinum 50,000*
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[136] Platinum 250,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[137] 5× Platinum 500,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[138] 4× Platinum 80,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[139] Platinum 62,629[139]
France (SNEP)[140] Platinum  
Germany (BVMI)[142] 3× Platinum 900,000^
Hungary (MAHASZ)[143] Platinum  
Italy (FIMI)[144] Platinum 100,000*
Mexico (AMPROFON)[145] Platinum 150,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[146] Platinum 80,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[147] 5× Platinum 75,000^
Poland (ZPAV)[148] Platinum 100,000*
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[149] Platinum 100,000^
Sweden (GLF)[150] Platinum 80,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[152] Platinum 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[154] 5× Platinum 1,585,812[153]
United States (RIAA)[155] 11× Platinum 11,000,211[81]
Europe (IFPI)[156] 4× Platinum 4,000,000*

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


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  117. ^ "NZ Top 40 Albums Chart: 31 July 2017". Hung Medien. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
  118. ^ "Norway Top 40 Albums Chart: 30/2017". Hung Medien. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
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  135. ^ "Ultratop − Goud en Platina – albums 2002". Ultratop. Hung Medien.
  136. ^ "Brazilian album certifications – Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory" (in Portuguese). Associação Brasileira dos Produtores de Discos.
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  138. ^ "Danish album certifications – Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory". IFPI Denmark. Retrieved October 29, 2018. Scroll through the page-list below until year 2018 to obtain certification.
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  140. ^ "French album certifications – Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory" (in French). InfoDisc. Select LINKIN PARK and click OK. 
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  143. ^ "Adatbázis – Arany- és platinalemezek – 2002" (in Hungarian). MAHASZ.
  144. ^ "Italian album certifications – Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved February 12, 2018. Select "Tutti gli anni" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Hybrid Theory" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Album e Compilation" under "Sezione".
  145. ^ "Certificaciones" (in Spanish). Asociación Mexicana de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas. Type Linkin Park in the box under the ARTISTA column heading and Hybrid Theory in the box under TÍTULO
  146. ^ "Dutch album certifications – Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Enter Hybrid Theory in the "Artiest of titel" box.
  147. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory". Recorded Music NZ.
  148. ^ "Polish album certifications – Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory" (in Polish). Polish Society of the Phonographic Industry.
  149. ^ Salaverrie, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (PDF) (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Madrid: Fundación Autor/SGAE. p. 965. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  150. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 2001" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden.
  151. ^ International Federation of the Phonographic Industry – Sweden (2001). "Swedish Certification for 2001" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 11, 2006. Retrieved July 13, 2009.
  152. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Linkin Park; 'Hybrid Theory')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien.
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  154. ^ "British album certifications – Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Hybrid Theory in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  155. ^ "American album certifications – Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  156. ^ "IFPI Platinum Europe Awards – 2009". International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. September 1, 2005. Retrieved August 31, 2013.

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